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Success stories

Business Wales helps entrepreneur capture a scent of success

Fiona Stephens of LAL Fragrance

Launching a business can be equally exciting and daunting, but Bargoed-based businesswoman, Fiona Stephens is proof that the right support is key to helping a new venture find its feet.   

Fiona Stephens launched LAL Fragrance, a luxury fragrance line named in memory of her mother, in 2022. However, when orders initially failed to flood in, she feared she may have to cease trading.

Thankfully, Fiona came across the support of Business Wales online, which has helped her kick-start trading in South Wales.

Almost one year later, Fiona is now working on an extended product range of bath bombs and shower products, after Business Wales helped her kick-start trading across the Caerphilly County Borough.

Fiona, who works full-time at the time, ended up with a room full of handmade wax melts, diffusers and candles after falling in love with creating her own scented products during lockdown. A true fragrance fanatic, Fiona decided to turn her hobby into a business. 

No stranger to entrepreneurship, Fiona once owned her own brick-and-mortar upholstery and fabric shop in Ystrad Mynach. But, despite her history of running a business, Fiona was left deflated after receiving no online sales within the first eight months of business.

Fiona said:

I was receiving a lot of interest in my products, but I just wasn’t making any sales. I couldn’t put a finger on why. It was frustrating, but most of all disheartening. I was so close to closing down the business, but had a last-minute change of heart.

LAL Fragrance is named in honour of my mum, Lesley. After she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016, I recognised the importance of not just making memories, but being present in those happy moments. I wanted to give others the opportunity to do so through the power of scent. To think I came so close to giving up is heartbreaking. I urge every entrepreneur to not give up, but reach out to Business Wales instead.

In March 2023 Fiona was put in contact with Business Wales Growth Advisor Carla Reynolds. During one-to-one weekly meetings, Carla helped Fiona to identify LAL Fragrance’s core values as a sustainable, luxurious fragrance business based in the Welsh valleys, and encouraged her to sign-up to the Green Growth Pledge and Equality Pledge. Carla also encouraged Fiona, a Welsh speaker, to make her website bilingual with the support of Helo Blod.

As part of Business Wales’ Mentoring Programme, Fiona was also matched with Marianne Pettifor, who, having managed and sold a range of businesses, was able to provide Fiona with first-hand business support. Realising that giving customers the chance to see Fiona’s products in real life was key to securing sales, they began identifying local in-person trading opportunities. In the past five months, Fiona has worked a stall at a craft fair in a local school, and hosted multiple sales parties in Swansea and Blackwood, which will soon see the business boost profits from in-person event sales. 

Fiona said:

Going so long without making sales really knocked my confidence as an entrepreneur, but Business Wales was pivotal in helping me overcome that huge hurdle. With Carla and Marianne’s support, I’ve been able to build a business around my passion, trade successfully solely in-person, and most importantly, I’ve been able to keep my mum’s name alive. 

March 2024 saw Fiona host her first Mother’s Day pop-up event in Dwell Coffee Shop, Bedwas. Alongside partnering with more local businesses to host product parties, Fiona is now exploring exciting new ways of marketing her business on social platforms like Instagram. 

Carla Reynolds, Business Wales Growth Advisor said: 

I am beyond glad that Fiona sought the support of Business Wales before giving up on her business dreams. Helping entrepreneurs to regain their self-confidence and belief is often as important as sharing business advice, or directing entrepreneurs to different resources, from training to grants. Fiona is a brilliant example of how asking for a helping hand can see you overcome big business hurdles, regain your passion, and find that success you always sought.

Business Wales is funded by Welsh Government. For more information and support to help your business discover opportunities, and to speak to a specialist advisor, contact Business Wales. Visit www.businesswales.gov.wales/ or call 03000 6 03000. Rydym yn croesawu galwadau’n Gymraeg - we welcome calls in Welsh.
 


Business Wales Helpline

03000 6 03000

Lines are open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

Rydym yn croesawu galwadau’n Gymraeg.
We welcome calls in Welsh.