'My name is Dominique Newburn and I run Breeze Candles. I first began the business in 2015 after ill health ended my lifelong career in the police force. I wasn't in a good place and needed to find a new way of channelling my emotions. Initially the business began with my friends and family as my ‘customers’. But word spread, demand increased, and I am now working on products for my 4th Christmas in the business, which is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year for me.'
How did you learn about the Micro Business Grant Scheme?
'I first heard about the Micro Business Grant Scheme through people I met in similar industries at fairs and other events. A number of people suggested it so I looked into it a little more online on the Department for Enterprise (DfE)’s website and I contacted the DfE by email to express my interest and gather more information.
I realised the scheme would be beneficial to me - both with practical and financial assistance, particularly as my business was expanding at a rate I had not anticipated. I had never run a business before, but I was keen to get started. I filled in the application form, and secured a place on the course within a couple of months.'
How did you find the training and mentoring?
'The course itself provided guidance on practical matters such as accounting and time management, and I received valuable input from the tutors. It also put me in touch with like-minded people and made me feel much less alone in the world of small business. The course required completion of a detailed action plan, which really made me think about what I wanted from the business and how I was going to achieve it.
Once I was accepted onto the scheme, the support and guidance from my experienced business adviser was invaluable. I had someone to speak to for advice, and someone keeping me on track with important tasks such as accounts.'
What was it like starting your business in the Isle of Man?
'I was confident in creating the business in the Isle of Man as I recognised that the Manx community loves buying locally produced products. It's not easy to compete with similar, but much larger off-Island businesses, but the loyalty shown to my brand by my customers has been really touching.
Having my own business is extremely rewarding and my work allows me to channel my creativity. My products make people happy and I get to meet lovely people every day. The flexibility it offers compared to a regular job doesn't come close. Plus I get to fill my house with the most amazing fragrances!
Having never worked for myself before, it's been a steep learning curve. You are your own boss, and that's great, but at the same time, it means you are responsible for everything. There are a lot of plates to spin! But if I'm having a bad day, I can take a step back and come back to it in my own time without any external pressure.
I couldn't have expanded the business as I have done without the equipment I bought via the scheme. I now have a dedicated work-space, which has made me much more efficient without any distractions. I am now at an operating level that I intend to maintain and manage, having recently evaluated how I spend my time and assessing the returns I see on various aspects of the business.'
What was your biggest challenge?
'Doubting myself has been the biggest challenge I have faced, as confidence in yourself as a business owner and your product takes time to build. I've found that gaining more experience and listening to my customers has really helped me overcome this. Time management is also a tricky one, especially with family life and health issues to think about as well.
Initially, I had no plan or direction. I now have a clear timescale of what needs achieving at various points in the year (something my business adviser helped me with) so I'm not panicking at the last minute. It's much less stressful!'
How do we get in touch with Breeze Candles?