‘We’re the queens of cosy’

Meet three women who help make au­tumn mag­i­cal

Prima (UK) - - Contents -

As we hun­ker down for au­tumn, meet the women whose busi­nesses bring us all that is won­der­ful about this time of year

Krystyna Patey, 46, from Par­tridge Green, West Sus­sex, cre­ates can­dles that shine a light on the best things about the darker months.

‘Pulling on my wellies and tramp­ing through the au­tumn mist from our cot­tage to my work­shop is the per­fect start to the day. The smell of wood smoke and fallen leaves stays with me as

I open the door, where a cor­nu­copia of other won­der­ful scents hits.

This is where we make all our can­dles, dif­fusers and room scents. I em­ploy one other per­son, Sharon, to blend, pour, pack­age and la­bel ev­ery­thing. At this busy time of year, I also have a band of bril­liant lo­cal peo­ple who pitch in to help. My hus­band, Richard, is a great sup­port and even my mum and dad come in once a week be­tween now and Christ­mas.

I started the busi­ness eight years ago af­ter mov­ing to the Sus­sex coun­try­side from Brighton. I felt so much more con­nected with na­ture here, and was drawn to set­ting up my own busi­ness re­flect­ing this more nat­u­ral way of life.

Can­dles can be used all year round, but they carry a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance at this time of year. Our Man­darin Spice scent with its cloves and cin­na­mon is per­fect for au­tumn, while Bon­fire or Wood­land are calm­ing and re­lax­ing dur­ing the darker, colder months.

I ac­tu­ally started out mak­ing body scrubs and bath foams, be­fore de­cid­ing that the cute Kil­ner jars I was us­ing would work bril­liantly for can­dles, too.

I started mak­ing them in the evenings at home af­ter my daugh­ter Tia, now 18, had gone to bed, and found the process helped me switch off from my of­fice job.


As the busi­ness grew, I at­tended my first big trade show, where a stand cost £1,500 – a huge amount for my fledg­ling busi­ness. I was ter­ri­fied I wouldn’t re­ceive any or­ders. Luck­ily, it proved a turn­ing point and I de­cided to leave my day job with an events com­pany and con­cen­trate on Park­min­ster – named af­ter the area where we live – full time.

I started the busi­ness with­out any real sav­ings, putting ex­penses like the trade show and ma­te­ri­als on credit cards. Luck­ily, Richard, who al­ready had his own com­pany, backed me all the way. He be­lieved in my idea and helped me un­der­stand the fi­nan­cial side of things.

I grew the busi­ness steadily, wary of rush­ing in and mak­ing mis­takes. I added more fra­grances and reed dif­fusers, pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to pack­ag­ing. Turnover dou­bled ev­ery year, but I only started pay­ing my­self a salary five years ago and still plough most of my prof­its straight back into the com­pany.

Park­min­ster prod­ucts are now sold in more than 300 in­de­pen­dent stock­ists in the UK, as well as some beau­ti­ful shops in Rome, Am­s­ter­dam, Zurich and Ja­pan. Our big­gest-sell­ing prod­ucts are our small votive can­dles, which are 90ml scented soy can­dles that come in 22 fra­grances.

I spend a lot of time trav­el­ling around in Os­car, our VW Trans­porter van, which is packed with stock. At £25,000, it was an­other huge ex­pense, but it’s in­valu­able for de­liv­er­ing prod­ucts around the coun­try – and I can sleep in it if I have to! If I spot a shop that I think would like our can­dles, I never miss the op­por­tu­nity to pop in and per­suade them to give them a go. As the busi­ness has grown and

I’ve over­come dif­fer­ent chal­lenges, my con­fi­dence has grown, too.

A lot of time, ef­fort and trial and er­ror goes into my prod­ucts, but the feed­back I re­ceive makes it all worth­while. At the end of a busy day, af­ter walk­ing home across the fields, I can en­joy one perk of the job – light­ing loads of lovely can­dles!’ • park­min­ster.co.uk

Krystyna cre­ates her prod­ucts in the work­shop in her gar­den

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