Propeller Spotlight: Beer Candle UK

Beer Candle UK brings new life to limited edition artwork from local breweries. Since it’s popular for breweries to commission unique artwork, it would be a pity to throw them away. Beer Candle UK preserves the artwork for another 30-50 hours with slow-burn, soy-wax candles that you would be proud to show on your shelves.

Where Did the Idea Come From?

The idea started as a hobby. There’s a large, albeit niche, community of beer enthusiasts and local brewers who commission artists for their beer can designs. Many enthusiasts who bought the beer wanted to preserve the artwork for longer. Katie came up with the idea of making candles from the cans to give them a new lease of life as upcycled projects. She started making them for friends and family and after a short while was invited to participate in a vegan market at Burscough.

Looking online, Katie found that her idea was unique; no one else was selling beer can candles in the UK, so she began selling her own through social media. Having the only product on the market proved a challenge for pricing, as it was impossible to benchmark against competitors. On the recommendation of a friend, Katie approached the UCLan Propeller service for advice.

Support through Propeller

Her business mentor, Craig Lawrenson, offered her advice through 1-1 meetings and also recommended she attend workshops on ‘Understanding Business Finance’ and ‘Bookkeeping for Beginners’. Craig has been working with Katie throughout the year and has helped her to register as self-employed in June 2020. This support has been part-funded by the ERDF U Start programme and will offer a further 12 hours of support with the business post start-up.

In November 2019, Katie was awarded a Propeller Enterprise Award, a small pot of funding given out to promising business ideas to help them get started. This was used to increase manufacturing capacity and allowed her to reduce production time. Rather than making 6 candles per pour, she can now make 100 – increasing capacity 15-fold. Not only has this has helped to keep up with demand, buthas lead to a £2,000 net income.

Katie also made the most of the high level of expertise of UCLan students by participating in a student project. Four students from the Web Development course worked with Katie on a live project, creating a website for her business. Many courses take on enterprise elements such as this to provide students with the chance to gain real work experience and develop professional skills whilst working towards their degree.

“All 4 students behaved professionally. Their organisation skills, made me feel at ease, as well as arranging meetings, regular communications and updates. I was treated as a ‘real client’. The students worked fantastically as a team which was noticed immediately from the first meeting. They explained everything to me, without assuming pre-existing knowledge without being patronising. They all went above and beyond and I am extremely grateful for their time and efforts.”

What’s Next for Beer Candle UK?

Having her own website means that all payment can be completed when ordering, saving much back-and-forth through direct message. It will make the process much more efficient.

Earning an income after graduation has been a relief to Katie, who says that having money coming in means she doesn’t have to rush to find a job. Rather than looking for anything that pays the bills, she can take her time finding a suitable role. For now, she is happy with her candles being her main source of income and intends to continue the business part-time once she does find a role suited to her degree.

Due to graduate this summer, Katie registered as self-employed in June. This makes her the 10th business to register self-employed with the ERDF U Start programme since lockdown began. It goes to show that despite the economic uncertainty right now, the outlook for new business owners is optimistic.

The Beer Candle UK website is now live at www.beercandleuk.co.uk. You can also check out the designs on social media: