How does it feel to start a sustainable business from scratch? What can you do that’s unique, innovative, and sustainable? Meet Kristina, founder of So.Slow Candles who will share her inspiring story with us. She decided to set up her own business producing handmade soy candles, 100% natural and sustainable. Kristina, only 20 years old young woman from Slovakia who got it all – from raw materials to packaging, she carefully selects the ingredients from proven sources and packs the candles in glass jars that can be returned to be refilled again.
Who is the team behind So.SlowCandles? Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Kristina and I come from Slovakia. Already during my student years in high school, I was active working for several companies in Bratislava – in retail, cafes, in a yoga studio as a receptionist. It was a very rewarding experience from two perspectives: I got the opportunity to see “behind the counter“ and to get to know people, as well as their behavior but I also managed to save money to start something of my own. Of course, I had no idea what it would be and which way to go. However, I walked with my eyes open and, as they say, I waited for an idea. So I stand by my brand purely by myself, with the determination to do things the best way I can …
Like many young but also old people, I am one of those who values our planet, the environment and do not want to be just a temporary destroyer of our surroundings. I don’t want to keep the trigger and the pile of problems on the planet for future generations. Following this line of thought, I also tried to look for a business that could match my ideas about sustainability: I did not know exactly what I wanted, but I wanted to bring something that was not simply a minus for the planet and a plus for the customer.
How did you come up with the idea of So.SlowCandles?
By the desire to bring something to the customer that will not harm his/her health and at the same time not unnecessarily burden the planet, I finally got to the idea of making handmade soy candles. Commonly available candles focus on the price: firms bring the customer something cheap and maybe nice. My idea is not to make things cheap, of poor quality and harmful. That’s why I don’t use paraffin, but natural soy wax, so I don’t use artificial wicks, but wood wicks. With SO.SLOW candles, you can be sure that the oil product is not burning fossil fuel in front of you.
Where do the materials for your eco-friendly handmade candles come from? Which types of packaging do you use?
We use only the highest quality raw materials, from proven sources.We do not add any additives to our candles – whether to modify the color of the wax or its properties. I consider the scent to be crucial for the success in candle industry, so in the very beginning I focused on choosing the best that the world has to offer. The fragrances used in SO.SLOW are from France, especially from the city of Grasse, which has been a world center of perfumery for several centuries. Right there, I learned the basics, how to mix scents, history and how scents are made today. We work with the best companies in our field in this area. We also try to buy some types of fragrances locally in Slovakia. Soy waxes are 100% natural products containing no chemicals; the ones we use are carefully selected, ecological and environmental friendly.
When it comes to packaging, we use organic cotton bags instead of paper boxes. We pour our handmade candles to glass containers. People are able to recyclethese empty glasses and return them. Therefore we can pour new candles in them, and the customer gets a discount for the next purchase.
Do you think that online shopping is a greener alternative to in store shopping? Do you manage to be sustainable in your deliveries?
I personally think that there is no right answer to this question. The only thing I always do, is encouraging my customers and people around me to thoughtfully consider what you buy and if it’s truly necessary.
Which is the biggest challenge you are facing since setting up this sustainable business?
Firstly, I am impressed (well, the clock is ticking) that sustainability is already a highly rated management task in many corporates, and with effective platforms for change, companies are well-prepared to tackle these enviromental challenges. We took sustainability very seriously since the beginning. The biggest challenge was to find importers that offer carbon neutral shipping of goods.
All in all, we are already looking forward to take up new eco-related challenges and sustainable development strategies in the future.
In your opinion, which role does youth play in raising awareness about environmental issues?
Young people play definitely an active role in protecting and improving the environment. By adopting environmentally friendly practices, for instance preserving resources such as water. Moreover, enaging youth in environmental issues can have a direct impact on their relatives. Also, recycling of different material at home is only one tiny step towards a bright future!
What’s next for you and So.SlowCandles?
Everyone who starts running any kind of business has a plan to do it long term and successfully. I believe that I will be able to improve and develop the brand as much as possible. We will see!
Which advice would you give to the young people like you who want to set up their own sustainable business?
Being a successful entrepreneur takes a lot of work, a clear vision of what you want to achieve and a lot of courage. In my case, I have always been surrounded by a business mindset as my father is a successful entrepreneur. It helped me to follow the business path much more easily.
Thanks Kristina for your determination and committment to set up a business that is aiming to be as sustainable as possible. Certainly, support from your loved ones is a key to success but being brave, hard-working and really believing in the necessity of preserving our Planet are essential aspects for a bright future as a brilliant entrepreneur. Good luck from YEE!
YEE aims to unite environmental youth non-profit organisations in Europe in order to enhance international cooperation, increase knowledge about nature, raise awareness of environmental problems and to strengthen participation of youth in environmental decision-making.