We love an upcyle here at NPD and we are massive fans of KICA living's recycled candles and homewares handmade in her home studio in Leighton Buzzard. You may of seen Catherine's tealights as part of our bath board and tealight products, we love getting an order which includes KICA products as the showroom always smells divine!
Shop more of Catherine's beautiful pieces via the links at the bottom of the page and don't forget to join our Girl Boss Directory Online Market on 21st - 22nd November for more beautiful handmade, girl boss goodness. Follow the links below to join:
Tell us about yourself, what do you do and how do you do it?
Hey there! I’m Catherine, chief maker and founder of KICA Handmade & Upcycled Living. I started making soy wax candles in upcycled tins as a hobby back at the start of 2018. Little did I know then, that KICA would grow into the full time online business it is now. Upcycled candles are still at the heart of what I do, but the KICA collection now includes a number of other upcycled and reclaimed products, which I’m super excited about. For me, it’s all about wasting less and reusing more.
On a normal day, you’ll generally find me happily painting, pouring and boxing up new candle collections with my Chief Furry Officer (a miniature schnauzer) underfoot. I do all of my making from my home-based workroom in Leighton Buzzard where I use natural, upcycled or recyclable materials wherever possible. KICA candles are made in used food cans, which I source locally from friends, family and small businesses, which means it sometimes feels like my workroom has become the local recycling centre! I wouldn’t call myself an eco-warrior by any stretch, but I do believe we could all make more conscious choices about the products we buy and how they’re made. Maybe it is possible to change the world one upcycled bean can at a time! At the very least, I hope to spread some feel good vibes with my perfectly imperfect goodies.
What inspired you to start your own business? When I started KICA, I was already self-employed as a copywriter, so the idea of running my own business wasn’t alien to me. My husband challenged me to get a new hobby at the start of 2018 which, looking back, was the kick I needed to follow my heart instead of my head. I can’t remember why candle-making sprung to mind specifically, but I’ve always been a crafter and have dabbled in furniture upcycling, so I guess the creative planets aligned to give me the inspiration for making upcycled candles. I didn’t originally intend for this to become my main business, but my creative soul was fired up and I was starting to find my niche for what felt like the first time in my whole career. It was like having a creative itch that needed scratching! What is the best bit about being your own boss? I have two children, so I love the flexibility of being able to work around school hours and set my own agenda. These days, collaborations happen over coffee and decisions can be made on a dog walk! Being your own boss can be hard in so many ways, but I think the good bits definitely outweigh the bad bits.
What challenges do you face with having your own business? With only me in the business, I have struggled with loneliness and indecision in the past. It’s hard not having a team mate to bounce ideas off or share the workload with. Other than that, income highs and lows must be the biggest challenge. Starting a creative business from scratch is no easy task and it’s easy to doubt yourself and your products when the money isn’t coming in as quickly as you’d like. I’ve had to work really hard on my money mindset and self-belief over the past few years so that I can keep going when times are hard. Thankfully, the positive attitude is slowly starting to pay off, but it is something that needs constant work. Best piece of advice anyone ever gave you? Trust your gut. Usually you know deep down whether something feels right or not. Trust those feelings and try not to get too distracted by what other people are saying or doing.
Your favourite product from you collection? It’s got to be my big 3-wick candles. They’re made in catering sized tuna tins, which I love not only because the tins are donated from another small local business, but also because it just supersizes what KICA was originally all about. Who knew you could make something so pretty and gorgeous smelling, from something old and fishy!
Your favourite small business? Keeping it local, I have to give a shout out to Bits & Buds Florist UK in Leighton Buzzard. Helen has always been a big supporter of what I do and likewise, I adore everything that she does. We share a love of all things rustic, eco-friendly and pretty! Helen is a great example of a small business owner who has grown her business through tough times with sheer determination, creative flare and flexibility. It’s so great to see her business going from strength to strength. Advice for other women looking to be their own girl boss? Be brave. Don’t sweat the small stuff. And remember that done is better than perfect. (I should probably listen to my own advice here too as I’ve not always been the best at doing these things in the past!).