I gave up my job and used all my savings to launch a wax melt company, now it’s worth millions and Mrs Hinch is a fan

HAND-pouring fragranced hot wax into silicone moulds, Hannah Chapman was determined to turn her dream of running her own successful wax melts business into a reality.

The entrepreneur, 25, invested her life savings — £5,000 — into buying stock and began using her mum’s hob to whip up the sweet-smelling products when she started Ava May Aromas at the family’s home in Fleet, Hampshire, in 2018.

Now in its third year the firm — named after Hannah’s great-grandmother — has exceeded her wildest expectations, with more than 600 orders a day, 249,000 followers on Instagram and is on track to make £3.2million.

Wax melts — loved by celebrities including Stacey Solomon, Gemma Collins and Kerry Katona — are typically sold in packs of wax cubes that have been fragranced with scented oils which you melt to create an aroma.

Hannah ditched her marketing job to branch out on her own.

She says: “You think you’re going to walk into your dream career and it’s all going to work out for you, but I tried the job and realised it wasn’t for me. So I quit.

“I saw a gap in the candle market. I really wanted to have a go at it. I was lucky to still be living at home with my parents.”

But she readily admits things got off to a chaotic start.

Hannah says: “The stock was everywhere. It took over the kitchen, the hallway, the living room, my sister’s bedroom and the dining room.

“My parents would tiptoe around me because there was no space.”

Within five days of launching the business, Hannah got her first order for a £20 candle.

Within seven weeks she was selling £1,000-worth of candles in 24 hours.

She couldn’t keep up, not least because the packaging took up to two months to arrive from China.

She says: “I’d be up until two, three, four in the morning packing orders and then I’d sleep for a few hours. I’d be up again at six or seven. It was totally unsustainable.”

As Hannah knew nothing about “the business side of things”, after two months her dad Daryl, 60, came on board as her ­business partner — despite having been against the idea of the enterprise in the beginning.

Hannah, who also lives with mum Ann, 61, who was a full-time carer and her sister Rachel, 23, an occupational therapist for the NHS, says: “At first he was like, ‘Everyone makes candles, Hannah’, but I begged him to let me do it.

“They gave me two months. My parents were willing to let me skimp on the bills. But if it wasn’t working out after two months, then I would get a full-time job again.

“When the sales were consistent after two months, Dad said I needed to start taking care of the business side of it.

"I looked at him blankly, I didn’t know what that meant. He asked ‘have you been collecting invoices?’ None of that ever occurred to me.

“So that’s when he came on board to help.”

Daryl, who had always been self-employed running a chain of three gyms, took on all the admin, including managing costs and invoices.

In its third month, they moved the business into a commercial unit but that meant more costs.

Hannah says: “My initial £5k had run out so Dad put in an extra £10k. This allowed us enough stock to keep up with orders — and it also paid for machinery and staff.

“Dad and I have always been really strict with our salaries. We reinvest everything into the business.

"After three months, we were able to pay ourselves a modest £20k each.”

As her company grew, Hannah began hiring staff to help pack orders while she focused on marketing.

Ava May Aromas turned over £1.1million in its first year. It now employs 25 people.

She says: “It felt like we were hiring someone new every other week.

“I really struggled letting go of making the products, and I really miss it, but I just can’t do that any more.

"I’ve got a really amazing team of girls who do that for me.”

Hannah’s company now offers a range of scented candles, wax melts and diffusers inspired by perfumes such as Thierry Mugler Angel and well-known cleaning products.

The most popular are the Lenor fabric softener dupes, with online cleaning guru Mrs Hinch, 31, a fan of the Spring Awakening and Rose Wonderland scents.

Realising the power of influencers, Hannah offered Mrs Hinch — real name Sophie Hinchliffe — free products in return for an Instagram mention.

Hannah says: “Sophie mentioned us in a couple of Instagram stories. She helped us reach thousands of people we wouldn’t otherwise have reached.

“I used to send out hundreds of pounds worth of candles to influencers for free.

“I’ve had a core team of five or six influencers who have been with me from the beginning, including Cleaning with Mario and the Twinkle Cleaning Duo.”

Hannah’s £5 wax melt packs, which feature six individual scented wax pieces, make up roughly 70 per cent of overall sales.

Hannah says: “Wax melts changed the business because we don’t have to acquire a really expensive jar, they’re cheap to make and sell.”

While social media has helped grow her company, it has not all been easy.

Hannah says trolls have targetted her with abuse including “horrible things” about her looks and scathing comments about her friendship with Mrs Hinch.

Despite never intending to make the business so big, Hannah aims to take on the likes of Yankee Candle.

She says: “I started out on a kitchen hob thinking it would be a part-time income or hobby. Never in a million years would I have believed this.”

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