Sharron McHugh, Molly & Me Candles
Sharron McHugh Molly & Me Candles, is a valuable member of The MAW Network Community, assisting with events and it’s always great to see her and to see the sample of candles and wax melts when she attends. Here is her story from retail employee, to human resources manager to business owner, putting her retail experience into her own business which is fueled by her passion for a more eco friendly home.
Sharron is able to work around her family and focus on her work life balance, even though her free time is less than it was before..
I asked Sharron to tell me a little about herself and she told me,
“I am married to Colum and am mum to Molly who is 15 years old. We live in Cookstown, Co Tyrone. I have only ever worked for two companies in my employment history- Pizza Hut & Tesco!
In 1991, as Store Manager, I opened the very first Pizza Hut in Northern Ireland. I also helped to open the first ever Pizza Hut’s in Budapest and Malta. I trained all of their management teams in Northern Ireland. Then I travelled to both countries to help them establish the business.
I moved to Tesco in 1998 and was accountable for the transition of all catering and bakery depts from the Stewart’s concept to Tesco branded. In 2004, I moved into HR function ,having already obtained CIPD accreditation in 1995. I took my redundancy after 20 years in a Senior HR role with Tesco. With this, I paid the mortgage off and decided to turn a candle making hobby into a full time business! Molly & Me Candles was born.
As the eternal student and qualified as a Naturopathic Practitioner specialising in Acupuncture in 2006 after 4 years study. In 2008, I also qualified as a Therapeutic Counsellor achieving Level 5 HND.
I have developed a strong passion for trying to improve my carbon footprint and am on a new journey to understand how I can do my bit as an individual and business owner to reduce the negative impact we have on our beautiful world!”
Although Molly & Me Candles is based in Cookstown, Sharron says she is happy to post to anywhere!
Sharron makes Soy Wax candles and melts along with Room diffusers, car fresheners & bath bombs, and she also run workshops including how to make Natural Home products. She is constantly trying to improve the carbon footprint of her business and home.
Sharron is passionate about her product,
“I carefully source packaging, oils and other equipment and resources so they are as eco friendly as possible. All our oils are paraben free and 85% are also phthalate free. We test every candle at least 3 times before we place it on the market. When we test burn we are looking for clean burn performance ie no sooting , good scent throw and no tunnelling (Wax clinging to side of glass). If I am am not satisfied we go back to the beginning!
I also support a fellow MAW Network member with her eco market project called Sustain. ”
I asked Sharron which problems do you solve for your customers and she explains,
“My customers love the beautiful fragrance that candles bring to their home. I want to provide them with a safer , less toxic product which doesn’t damage their home or their health and provide the aesthetics a cracking candle brings to their home decoration. Our candles, melts and diffuser scents provoke emotions and memories and create a relaxing atmosphere in their home.
In terms of bath products, we provide out customers with a handmade product that uses only natural ingredients that are safe to use on skin. Our products are all cosmetically tested and comply with strict legislation so the customer is confident about what they are putting on their skin.”
When asked, do you love your job, Sharron says,
” I love the fact that I can do what I do at home. Being there in the afternoon when Molly comes home from school and I can have a snack ready for her is a big advantage. Before I was never home till after 7pm in my previous job.
I love planning new products and deciding how to present them to our customers.
I love hearing that our customers love our products through reviews and chance conversations. Attending the different markets and fairs is great fun. Meeting new people and traders also especially those in the same industry so we can chat about new developments etc.
Most of all I love Autumn and Christmas and 85% of candle sales take place between Sept and Dec so I am in my element with all the smells and twinkly Craft Fairs and Christmas markets. I rock up in my Christmas jumper and sing Christmas songs and bop away at my stall to my hearts content!
Candles are loved by all ages and gender but my ideal customer is the one who has used large multinational candle products before. I love educating them in the science and hard work that goes into making candles.”
I asked Sharron if she could change one thing about her business, what would it be and she explained,
“I would perhaps have less fragrances. and listen to customers and try to meet their needs. However I have introduced some fragrances that customers have requested which ,whilst they are paraben free are not phthalate free. This has diluted my original commitment to only have paraben and phthalate free products. I am starting to phase these products back out (approx 5)”
Do you have any advice for someone starting off in business?
“Be clear on what your business will look like , what problem it solves for customers and do your research on your business idea using whatever resources are out there.”
In your spare time, what do you like to do?
“Since becoming self employed, I have less free time than I did have but I do yoga once a week with a tutor. Then I practice it at home to help with relaxation. I love spending time with my family and friends and regularly meet up for coffee, lunch or we attend various workshops together.
I love September onwards as there are amazing dramas on TV and I have started to use audio books as I found I had less time to read.”
Sharron is a valuable member of our The MAW Network.. her details can be found on our business directory here: