Every new business venture starts with a moment of inspiration. A moment that might be sparked by a chance encounter, a sudden brainwave, or a newfound hobby.
For Niki Munro, it was a sustainable outlook coupled with a newfound passion that kick-started her journey.
We sat down with Niki, founder of luxury fragrance brand House of Rothach, to talk about the passion that ignited the flame of her business and how she turned her entrepreneurial dreams into a reality.
How did the idea for the business come about?
The very first candle I made was from odd bits of wax, collected over time and melted down to save it from going to waste; I’m all for repurposing/recycling things and I thought one day I might try to make a candle of my own.
When I realised I was spending money on candles, and feeling a bit cheated because they hadn’t burned well, I decided to order some wax, some wicks, and some oil. Not really knowing anything about candle making, I set about to pour my very own candle. It sort of worked; It looked good and smelled good however it burned way too fast (I learned that much later on). However, I loved the whole process of making the candle and my creative mind started working overtime. It was then I thought, what if I could create candles that ticked all the boxes?
“I was very nervous but believed in what I was doing so I told myself if someone was happy to spend their own money buying just one of my candles, then I was definitely going for it.”
So, I spent a long time researching, learning, getting it wrong, getting it right, testing, planning, designing, and once I had created something I was happy with, I handed them out to friends and family. I would need to give them out to people to give me their opinions in case I was delusional and living in my own dream world. I was a bit taken aback by the positive feedback and it was at that point I thought about making a business out of my newfound passion.
I made a small range of candles, taught myself how to make presentation boxes from scratch, and got everything ready for my first event. I was very nervous but believed in what I was doing so I told myself if someone was happy to spend their own money buying just one of my candles, then I was definitely going for it. As it turns out it was a fairly quiet event overall and freezing cold since it was outdoors in Scotland in April, but I actually sold really well that day.
That was the start of the business journey!
What have been your biggest achievements and challenges?
I feel in business you always have challenges; they are just different depending on surrounding factors. I’ve had a few! One of them, about 18 months into trading, was deciding to rebrand. The business name I initially chose just wasn’t fitting with the brand vision and I had a feeling that something wasn’t right. It was a huge challenge and a scary prospect, as I had to get ‘seen’ again but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Since then, the brand, me as a business owner, and my product lines have grown into the vision I had dreamed of.
“I love the way fragrance can take you to a place long forgotten, evoke a lost memory, pick up your mood, or get you nice and relaxed after a hard day.”
One thing I’m really proud of is designing and creating my very own bespoke fragrances. I love the way fragrance can take you to a place long forgotten, evoke a lost memory, pick up your mood, or get you nice and relaxed after a hard day. I absolutely love Scotland, its beautiful scenery, and even the weather. So, I dug deep and worked hard and eventually came up with three unique outdoors-inspired House of Rothach fragrances. They are: The Rural Glens, The Urban Parks, and The Country Gardens.
What advice would you give to anybody starting up their own business?
Work hard, harder than you’ve ever worked before if you truly believe in it. Dream it will work, think it will work, and it will work. You are your own destiny. Yes of course there are other economic factors to consider but be positive and enjoy the journey as that’s all part of the vision. When you’re finding it tough, just take a step back and recharge the batteries, do something to clear your head, spend time doing something unrelated to your business and you’ll be amazed at how focused you are when you’re ready to take charge again. Take the good with the bad, if you get it wrong, learn from it, and don’t beat yourself up about it, as it might just be the mistake you needed to make to take you to the next level.
What makes your brand so unique?
The market is overwhelmed with candle and home fragrance brands, and even more so since COVID-19 hit. I think it’s great there are more small businesses starting out since we are a huge part of the economy. However, it does make it an even more competitive marketplace. I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon and followed trends with my fragrance choices and even brand design, and this is what my customers like. I also strive to be as environmentally and eco-focused as I can with the ingredients and materials used in my products. I’m not perfect and never will be, but I absolutely love what I do and pour this love into my products and attention to detail.
How important is it to support independent brands and women in business?
This is a fundamental part of my business value, and, regardless of size or gender, it’s really important to me to support, encourage and collaborate with other independent businesses. It can sometimes be a lonely journey when you are an independent brand so I’m lucky to be part of a few business and entrepreneurial programmes and groups. They don’t tell you what to do or do it for you, but they help with guidance and advice, support, and accountability.
What is in store for the year ahead?
Having recently gone full-time on House of Rothach, I am now able to get all those ‘back burner’ ideas out of my head and into a spreadsheet (I do love a good spreadsheet). I’m also now able to analyse my sales and product data I’ve been collecting and lean and plan ahead from it. I have a few great ideas for new products, projects, and collaborations which will be keeping me busy in between the regular orders and events. I’m now in a position to be able to exhibit at larger scale events, take on more stockists, and have the odd day or two off too… although I really feel I could work 24/7 on House of Rothach. So, this year is going to be a busy one, and I will be grateful to come out the other side of it kicking!
Discover exclusive fragrance and candles bundles from House of Rothach at The Mór Card.