Ailis Topley, 29, the founder of Pott Candles, was ranked among the brightest stars of her generation in the 30 Under 30 list for retail and ecommerce published by global media company Forbes.
She said: “It’s an amazing honour and a bit surreal. I’ve had a huge grin on my face since it was announced and we drank a few bubbles. I always dreamed of my own business but it still feels weird to be called an entrepreneur.
“More than anything I’m delighted that a company like Forbes has recognised a small, sustainable business working in a big household market. It’s a step in the right direction.”
She added: “Every year in the UK, 360million candles are burned, and that’ s a lot of empty jars lying around, going to waste or recycling . I hope in ten years that problem will no longer exist.
“People are trying to live more sustainably, and that changed everything from toothbrushes to cling film. Candles had not been touched at all but it’s an idea that really resonates.”
Ailis began making candles as a hobby during lockdown, making gifts to cheer up friends and family after moving back to her parents’ home in the Dales.
The lightbulb moment came with she considered how to eliminate waste from the production process by offering a refill service for pots crafted by artisan potters all over the UK.
It lit a fire under eco-conscious customers, and the company racked up sales of more than £1m in 2021.
Now based in London, Ailis said: “The hardest thing has been the day-to-day perseverance. When things are not going your way and problems crop up, you have to see them as hurdles and find a way around them.
“As a small business you send out a lot of emails and get no replies. Since the Forbes news came out, it’s really grabbed people’s attention and opened some doors.”
Entirely self-funded up to this point, Ailis is now looking for investment to grow the company as she begins a new supply deal with the historic Stoke potteries and prepares to launch her first non-candle product this summer.
For more information, go to www.pottcandles.com.