13 January 2021|Latest Posts, Launching a business, Meet the Successful Founder
After many happy years as a primary school teacher and a stay-at-home mum, Nikki Holt decided it was finally time to do something for herself and was ready to start a new chapter in her life. She began creating her own range of luxury home fragrances and in 2017, Nostara was born. We caught up with Nikki as the latest of our Meet the Successful Founder Series to learn more about her business and journey from start up to success.
Nikki has always had a passion for fragrance: “My aim was to bring a sense of luxury to the everyday and launch a collection that was aspirational but accessible with scents that were personal to me. Fragrances can transport you to a memory or a place and lift you up, completely changing your mood.”
The name ‘Nostara’ derives from a combination of Nikki’s first initial and ‘Ostara’ the Goddess of Spring, chosen for its meaning of new beginnings.
Nikki experienced many bumps in the road when launching the company, from branding agency issues to supplier issues such as packaging turning up with defects or in the wrong colours, tarnished candle lids and glassware that leaked. “It was so frustrating, we had problems with every supplier we worked with and it took so long to get things right. I couldn’t understand why people would send things to me with faults and mistakes.”
From the very beginning, Nikki’s plan was to produce hand-poured 100% natural soy wax candles and soy-based reed diffusers, all sustainable and ethically sourced within the UK. “I could’ve done it the easy way, using paraffin wax and fragrances that had already been developed but I wanted Nostara to be a sustainable fragrance option to conscious consumers, I also wanted the brand to be truly bespoke and to create something personal to me.”
In its successful third year, Nostara now has eight fragrances available in candles and reed diffusers, as well as room mists and travel candles. There is another new home scent in the pipeline for 2021, along with an earthy eau de toilette and a floral, oceanic eau de parfum.
Nikki shares her tips for those who are looking to take the leap and start their own business:
Believe in yourself
Firstly, and most importantly, you need to believe in yourself. You might not have all the answers yet, but you will figure them out as you go along. Starting a business is a journey and one that requires self-motivation and confidence. Remind yourself daily why you are doing this, is it to leave a legacy behind? To achieve something on your own? To be your own boss? Whatever the reason is, you can do it!
Follow your passion
Don’t worry about appealing to everyone, as you are never going to achieve that, and it just dilutes what you are offering. Stay true to what you love and create things you are truly passionate about. Customers are much more likely to connect with you if you have a true passion about your product/service.
Find your difference
Whether your brand is product or service-led, make sure you are offering something unique to other brands in your sector. You need to focus on being creative and going against the norm. Check out your competitors and find out how you can differ to them.
Work out what values are important to you
You can get caught up with things like supplier costs and taking the easy route but remember to always go back to what is important to you and your brand. For me it was sourcing local, sustainable materials for Nostara’s products, no matter how much cheaper they may be from other international suppliers, remember to say true to your brand and not take short cuts.
Do your research
Finding the right people and businesses to support your new start-up is a challenge I’ve faced one too many times! Make sure you spend time researching the right suppliers to use for your brand, it can be very costly if you don’t. We spent thousands on a branding agency before we found another one who truly understood our ethos and exactly what we wanted.
Reach out for help
Surround yourself with the right people, those that support and lift you up and give you a helping hand when you need it. This has played a vital role in the success of Nostara for me, from people we’ve met at country fairs and shows that have continued to support and recommend us, influencers sharing our brand on social media, to my family and friends and other small businesses.
You underestimate the difficulty of selling things until you try to do it yourself, social media plays a vital role in promoting your products and if you don’t get onboard you will fall behind. Social media gives your brand a platform to be more visible to the world. It’s also great for creating a community of loyal supporters, where you can ask for honest feedback and suggestions whilst shaping the direction of your new brand. Listening to feedback is very important for finding out what your customers want from you.
Starting your own business is hard. Try to enjoy each step of your journey, rather than obsessing on the end goal. Be kind to yourself and give yourself praise for each thing you achieve, however small or large it may be.
Make sure you look after your own physical and mental health, you can get caught up with everything and overworking as a small business owner, but remember to stay positive, focused and take a break when you need to. Remind yourself of how far you have come and be motivated to keep on going!