Your name and age: Hannah Chapman – 25
Tell us about your family: I grew up with my Mum (Ann), Dad (Daryl) and younger sister Rachel. We’re a close knit family. My dad is now business partner and co-director of Ava May Aromas.
How did you get started?
Ava May Aromas is a home fragrance brand producing handmade or hand poured items, from bath bombs to room sprays. We’re best known for our Wax Melts. I started the business in July 2018, pouring my first candles at my parents’ kitchen table when I was 23.
I’d left my full time job working at a social media agency because I just wasn’t enjoying it. I was strongly encouraged to try becoming self-employed by my dad – who is now my business partner – although he wasn’t too keen when I told him I wanted to make and sell candles. I had saved enough money to see me through the first two months but my dad was worried that I would never be able to make a successful business to sustain me from selling candles.
I started out on Instagram, a platform I knew had huge potential having seen many brands grow from humble beginnings to hugely powerful companies. Gymshark and Pretty Little Thing are two of my favourite examples. That’s the beauty of social media – there are ways of leveraging it that don’t necessarily require money and I think that’s what makes it so exciting for budding companies and young entrepreneurs, it really levels the playing field.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
The satisfaction/happiness I see when people receive and enjoy their orders. I’ve had some amazing messages from people telling me that particular scents we make remind them of a loved one. It’s a lovely feeling.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business?
The pressure when things go wrong as they inevitably do because ultimately staff turn to you to fix it – and sometimes that’s a challenge when you don’t know how to fix something yourself. Running a business means there’s no 9-5 clock – if something needs fixing or resolving you have to do it in your evenings/weekends and just find a way!
What has worked well about your business?
Social media and influencer gifting – it has been a relatively cost effective way of growing our following and customer base without paying extortionate marketing fees.
What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it?
Not investing in a better website early on – being e-commerce based I underestimated the importance of having a clear fast website (which sounds crazy writing this now) but I was reluctant to spend where I could avoid it especially early on. However that ended up costing us more in the long run when the website would fall over/stop working. Lesson learnt – websites are worth investing in (and make sure the person or agency running it is up to scratch too). We had a few people let us down after claiming they had the knowledge/experience to help but then proved not too… the agency we work with now are fantastic though.
How do you cope working alongside your dad?
I’m not his employer, I’m his colleague and I very much see him as my equal. He owns a large percentage of the business and we have a mutual respect for each other. We already have a good relationship anyway, but we run different sides of the business too which I think helps. I take care of Sales & Marketing whilst my Dad runs Operations and Finance. We both consult with each other and make decisions together but neither of us get too heavily involved in the other’s side of the business and I think that’s why it works so well. All good relationships are built on trust and there’s nobody I trust more.
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?
Hitting £10 mill turnover in the next 5 years!
Would you ever give up your business to do something else?
I’m honestly not sure – maybe? Although I can’t see what would draw me away from Ava May right now. Perhaps if I felt I’d added and grown it to the maximum I could? I definitely see myself having more business’ in the future though – I have ideas in the pipeline.
Do you have an exit strategy?
My Dad & I have discussed it but nothings set in stone, it’s a little early in the day to be thinking of an exit, we’ve only just got started!
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come?
Definitely not – not even close. I’m not sure when or if it will ever come to be honest – I think there’s always more to be done. Maybe if I reach the point of being able to open a flagship store one day? Who knows!
Where do you hope to be in five years time?
I’d like to think we will have our own premises/warehouse by this point! That’s the next step and potentially be thinking about our first retail store – that’s the dream!