In October I ordered €500,- (with trembling hands) worth of stuff to set up my candle making business (read: bedroom and kitchen). My parents also took care of my first webshop order arranged my first sales spot in a coffee shop in Utrecht . The gentlemen of that store told me that it ‘looked ok’ but I really needed to do something about the look. I also tried out photography…
Getting to it in my living/bedroom
Melting wax on my gasstove
Sweat is on my back and my arms are soured. I’m dragging a big bag with 25 kilos of candles through Amsterdam. My biggest order ever from Fairphone! And this one I had to bring myself otherwise it wouldn’t arrive in time for Christmas. And yes, no car!
Slowly I started getting more and more webshop orders (5 on average per month) and more and more stores and orders from companies came in. Meanwhile I kept cleaning houses to earn some extra pennies (because you can’t live from 5 orders on average I can tell you). Also, the 60 liter melting barrel is purchased, an incredibly great investment!
Finally! From 12m2 room to a separate 12m2 candle studio, super happy I was! It just didn’t fit under my bed anymore, breakfast at my table I hadn’t done in months and I was starting to take over my landlady’s basement. The first Brandtweer woman, Suzy, is joining the team. She will assist me from time to time until she starts her own brand of bath salts.
First candle studio
Trying my best as a photographer
January – April 2018
Survived the first real candle craze! By now I have about 15 wonderful outlets presenting Brandt, a first Sample Sale and frantically trying to keep up with production. AND I have moved inside the building to a large 20m2 workspace! I am still frantically trying to make something of my photography.
Second candle studio
First Sample Sale
April – July 2018
The company is being taken over! And by none other than my cousin Lucas. As it happens, I’m cycling around Europe for 4 months. And this trip will later become the inspiration for the Nomad Collection. Whether I found that exciting to hand over the company? No! In fact, I loved it. It also made me realize that I would need a team. Because I simply cannot do it alone.
Cycling from Greece back home, the origin of the Nomad Collection
August – December 2018
Meanwhile, I have been visiting markets for a while now as well. At least once a month and sometimes even twice. It’s great fun to see people smelling the candles in real life and to sharpen my sales skills a bit more. Also, the pop-ups are in demand and I participate in In addition, I have a super cool collaboration with the Dutch designer Pieter Ceizer for Amnesty International. I took a photography course but honestly…I decided to get a photographer because this just isn’t going to work.
Collab Pieter Ceizer & Amnesty
The Peony is joining the family! At first I thought this would be a temporary candle but it proved so popular that it became the basis of the Seasonal Collection. Meanwhile, I’m going to market after market and asking the first REAL photographer to take pictures. The samples of the Nomad Collection are coming in!
Peony joins the family
The first real studio pictures
I am slowly going crazy searching for the perfect tea light wick and sometimes it seems like I am never going to find it. I’m participating in Creative Life for the first time and it’s super super fun. And in the meantime I have provided 5 weddings with wedding candles!
Testing leatlight wicks
Creative Life event
Finally found the right wick! The first Nomad cans (i.e. those samples) will go with me on my bike tour of Scotland.
After a quietly growing summer, we introduce our very largest candle, the Large Scented Candle. There was a lot of demand for this 3-light and powerful candle so I succumbed! In addition, I am also launching the candle with Lisa Goes Vegan. This means lots of new customers and a very nice new market. This also means quite a bit of work for this 3 year old Brandtweer woman.
Collab Lisa Goes Vegan
Yet I still (under the guidance of a real one) photographed and made the drawings myself. Here I began to pinch him a bit, because what wás it busy! I regularly came home with a shackle of a head, sore feet and soured arms. But it was (and is) so cool to see that the product you developed and made with so much effort, is successful.
More and more photos and interviews (I really like that!) about Brandt appear in beautiful magazines like Elle Decoration, GezondNU, Trouw, Libelle etc. There were times when I thought I wouldn’t be able to physically make it to the next day, it was so busy. Fortunately friends and family helped me out but this had to change next year. And so I had my first ‘job interview’ with Luna.
In Elle Magazine
January – March 2020
And what a Brandtlady she turned out to be. Luna is really a great worker and a great woman! Together we will get there. We hit the 100 sales points and once again make a candle with Pieter Ceizer. Also the first real copycats show their face and that’s not nice! It gave me a few sleepless nights but fortunately I got the right advice. I also temporarily have 2 ladies who help me with branding. Until then I didn’t really understand what that was, so I also learned something new.
March – September 2020
Eehm…that was a bit of a swallow. Lockdowns, virus, I don’t have to explain anything to you. For a moment I was afraid of the existence of Brandt, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was like Christmas, it was so busy sometimes! We organized special giveaways and missed the markets a little.
This was my weekly routing during the severe lockdowns:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Monday + Wednesday + Friday I work from home! In the morning I answer emails, do my accounting, write content, come up with business strategies, do Instagram and all the other computer work you can think of. In the afternoon I’m stamping bags or cutting wicks. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
On Tuesdays & Thursdays, I’m on my way to the studio! Since I have a shared space, we agreed that those two days are for me, so I can ship your candles and you won’t have to wait too long. I wave to the mailman from afar as he picks up the packages I leave at the door. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’m going to enjoy making candles while my dear colleague Luna does her part on the computer at home! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever worked in such a structured way as I do now….
October – November 2020
Moos and José have joined the team and that is quite necessary because it is getting busier and busier. We have found great home photographers! With a shoot in our again expanded studio (30m2) and a new look on the webshop. In addition, I went to work with studio partner Leonie, to turn things around and design new packaging. And this Nomad Collection really had to come about. Fortunately, I was now able to do this together with someone!
New Brandt photographer join the pack
Nomad tests have finally started
It’s constantly hard work! Until we got into quite a slump and soy wax was no longer being delivered. This caused a lot of problems for our stock, sold too often for our taste a ‘no it can’t be done’, had to put dashes on the barrel every day how much was left in it and just before Christmas we had 2 liters left. That was a real crisis and in a blind panic I bought so much soy wax that I am a wholesaler myself.
Christmas with our little team
Ai, covid-19 has also knocked on my door and I have to quarantine. Because I have not been sick from it, I have been able to work gigantically and “practiced” with my team (which I suddenly really started to see as a team) having to do it myself, And that was still going to come in very handy….
April – May 2020
I’m out of quarantine again and that’s a good thing. There is a lot to do together with Leonie, especially developing the fragrances for the Nomad Collection and making decisions about the new packaging! We are also starting to film the Nomad movie. My dad made me a great workbench, and we still use it with great pleasure!
Voice overs for the Nomad film
First, a leaden move, 30 degrees, countless jars and a very long staircase…. And then…a BIG MOMENT in Brandt history…. The launch of the Nomad Collection + 14 new packages. What a celebration!
The move and the staircase
Finally, the Nomad Collection!
14 new packaging for Brandt!
July – August 2021
The Nomad Collection is very well received to my great joy and we get a new team member, Zora. This means that we are now a serious team and it is high time for the first official Brandt meeting, individual conversations with wishes and tasks. Moos will become Head of Production which will help me a lot to do my own tasks more thoroughly. And we can start preparing for another Christmas season!
Brandt exists 5 years! Wow, what a celebration. We’ve survived quite a few things, a shortage of wax, a fire in the building, a pandemic and copy cats. But we have had so many great things happen, markets, special stories, creative developments, personal milestones and so on! I am incredibly grateful that people still like to burn the candles in their homes, during cooking, at an altar and as gifts. It is really special to see your own creation bring happiness. I am also very happy with the team I now run (like a real manager ;)), who work so independently, well and full of passion. I am looking forward to the next 5 years!