Pembrokeshire duo light up business aspirations with vegan candle venture
Two 19-year old friends from Pembrokeshire have launched an ethical lifestyle business with the aim of changing attitudes towards the use of environmentally harmful products.
Will Brooks and Imogen Wright, founders of Little Orange Shop, make 100% vegan and non-toxic natural candles, which are now available to buy via their recently launched online shop.
The candles, hand-made in a small barn in Treffgarne owned by Imogen’s parents, have a soy base and are free from animal products, petroleum and artificial dyes, using only natural fragrances. Their current collection includes coconut, vanilla, coffee, orange and cinnamon scented vegan candles.
Meeting on the Art & Design foundation course at Pembrokeshire College, Will and Imogen’s shared passion for the environment and veganism, combined with Imogen’s experience in candle making, led them to create Little Orange Shop.
Since then they have gone on to fully develop the brand, website, products and packaging utilising the creative skills they learned on their college course.
Will said: “At the core of our brand is our desire to create products that are 100% natural and this is something we’re not willing to compromise on. We’re both ethically driven people, but we want our products to be accessible to everyone.
“Little Orange Shop wants to raise awareness of products that can harm our environment and encourage people to choose products that are socially conscious.”
Imogen continued: “We know there is an ethical movement taking place across the UK which we are fully in support of. However, some large retailers will brand their products as 100% natural but this often isn’t the case with artificial ingredients still creeping their way in to products, which is ultimately letting the consumer down.
“We understand it’s difficult to make drastic changes to everyday life but hopefully Little Orange Shop will help people take small steps in the right direction.”
The pair have spent the summer trading at vegan produce markets across Wales, including those in Carmarthen, St David’s, Monmouth and Penarth to name a few, as well as representing Pembrokeshire College at the Pembrokeshire County Show.
They have set up Little Orange Shop with the support of Big Ideas Wales, part of the Business Wales service to encourage youth entrepreneurship in Wales. Big Ideas Wales is funded by Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea.
While at college, the pair engaged in enterprising activities, including test trading opportunities through the college Enterprise Champion Karen Neville. Will explained: “We took our business plan to the Enterprise team at Pembrokeshire College who then referred us to Big Ideas Wales, part of Welsh Government, to assist us with making our ideas a reality. We’ve worked closely with David Bannister from Big Ideas Wales who has offered us invaluable advice on the direction of our business and particularly areas such as pricing our products.”
Imogen continued: “Will and I have struck a good balance as partners, with him taking responsibility for much of the business decisions, while I tend to lead on the creative side. We’re both learning about business on the job, but knowing we have the support of David from Big Ideas Wales to call upon has been so helpful during this process.”
In the future, Will and Imogen hope to expand Little Orange Shop into cosmetics and a broader homeware offering, having already experimented with soaps, face scrubs and lotions, all of which are 100% natural.
They are currently preparing to launch their products into a number of independent shops in Pembrokeshire and the pair have ambitions to eventually own their own high street shop.
In the meantime however, both Will and Imogen are heading off to university to study Fine Art at Camberwell College of Art and Kingston University respectively, and plan to continue to run Little Orange Shop alongside their studies. They’ve already secured places at Christmas markets in Cardiff City Hall and Clapham Common’s Winterville event.
David Bannister, Big Idea Wales business advisor who has supported Little Orange Shop with everything from branding to business plan advice, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure working with Will and Imogen, who are very hard-working and focused individuals with a real passion for conscious living choices. Their understanding of this issue as well as their development as business people leave me with no doubt that they’ll make a great success of Little Orange Shop.”
Little Orange Shop’s vegan candles cost £8.50 each and are available in five fragrances.