Cheryl Hook, who founded melt 21 years ago, explains the ethos behind this hugely successful business
Melt has progressed from a small cottage industry to a company that exports candles all over the world, but it still retains its ‘local’ ethos working from a beautiful rural location in the heart of the Ribble Valley.
Twenty-one years that’s quite an achievement – when you first set out did you ever imagine melt would be producing internationally acclaimed candles?
Goodness, never! It will sound very unbusiness like, but in the beginning in 1999, we just didn’t think that far ahead. It took two years before melt started to emerge as the business it is today.
What made you start the melt business in the first place and over the 21 years, how has it changed?
It really was just a love of fragrance that couldn’t be ignored – a hobby that became something much more. In 2001 we found an old barn on Backridge Farm where we’ve been ever since. We can produce upward of 5,000 candles a week, and distribute orders to stockists around the UK, Europe, Canada, America and Australia.
We thought we couldn’t encounter anything as challenging as the last recession – until this year. Covid has created a whole new set of rules but being smaller allows us to be much more nimble and able to adjust.
Never have we been more grateful that our raw materials are from the UK – 98 per cent comes from Lancashire. This was a deliberate decision when we started melt. You can’t upscale your production quickly if your raw materials take four weeks to deliver and your packaging is 12 weeks on the water!
Tell us about the success of the Chandlery and the addition of new products other than candles?
Our products are very sensuous in fragrance, feel and look so we didn’t want them locked away under glass cloches. We created a fragrance bar where customers can handle the products and take time choosing the right scent. It has worked brilliantly, and in response to customer demand we have more recently taken some of our fragrances into a capsule body care range called ‘Preserve & Protect’.
So, what does the future hold for melt – we’ve heard there is a new Christmas Snug?
There is, and we’re very excited! Candles and Christmas work so wonderfully together and we are converting a small area off the Chandlery into a charming Christmas Snug. Along with the snow machine, it will be ready for our A/W preview weekend on 17th and 18th October and will be open until December after which it will become an extension of our reading room.
Cheryl, you once said that working locally in the heart of the countryside and working with local suppliers, is bliss. Do you still feel that way?
Never more so. Surrounded by stunning countryside and nature has a way of re-balancing the demands of business. We have solved many a problem sitting outside the workshop doors watching the sun rise over Pendle Hill.
It’s a lovely business to be in. And we don’t just need our staff, customers and suppliers – we like them. A lot! Any success we have is thanks to their generosity, loyalty and support and without that, melt wouldn’t exist.