Gift Focus inc Attire Accessories - July/August 2020

78 QUARANTINE STORIES Louise Prance chats to a host of gift companies about how they are finding the COVID-19 enforced isolation period, and discovers an exciting array of post lockdown business plans PINTAIL CANDLES, PINTAILCANDLES.COM Fiona and James from Pintail Candles are taking the time to enjoy their beautiful Cumbrian surroundings during lockdown, while gaining inspiration for future scents. Can you tell us a bit about your company? We are Pintail Candles, and make hand poured fine fragranced candles in the little fishing village of Flookburgh in the South Lakes of Cumbria. The business was started by myself, James and my wife Fiona, over 25 years ago and we were one of the first to make tin candles in the UK. Our Paint Pot and Triple Wick Candles are our most famous brands and we are well known for our palette of richly coloured waxes in over 50 fragrances. Wax melts, glass candles, Christmas candles and reed diffusers are all part of our range. How are you finding lockdown, the good and the bad? Like everyone else, not getting out and about and seeing family and friends is hard to do but Fiona and I are really fortunate that we live in Cumbria. Although it can be hard in winter, we have had some lovely weather recently and although we have not been able to visit the fells and mountains we can see them from our house. Lockdown has also given us time to think about what is important to us and to think of our future and that of Pintail Candles. Spending time in the garden has definitely given us ideas for new fragrances. What are your business plans during and after COVID-19? We have recently gone back to work on a phased basis, working with our staff to create a safe environment. One of the reasons for our return was to support our customers who have still been able to trade during lockdown as well as those that were starting to reopen like garden centres. The relationship we have with our retailers is very special and we have both been helping each other. Our standard of customer service is very important to us and we will continue to look for ways to improve this over the coming months as we need to offer our customers as much support as we can give them. I think we have also seen the benefits of sourcing our ingredients and packaging as close to home as possible. Even our candle tins are made in the UK. This means our source of materials has not been as disrupted as it has been for others and the quality of these ingredients and the service we receive means that we can build on our reputation for creating fine fragranced candles. And believe it or not but we are now starting to make Christmas candles. I think this Christmas is going to be extra special and although it is difficult, we are aiming to make sure that we have some new fabulous fragrances to add to our seasonal festive range. What are you looking forward to most about life returning to normal? Getting out and about and going out for dinner. We have lots of award-winning eateries in the Lakes as well as lots of fine cafes, delis, food and drink makers. Maybe it is why so many of our fragrances sound so delicious like Sticky Toffee Pudding, which comes from Cumbria. Do you have a top tip for businesses weathering this temporary storm? This is tricky as everyone’s circumstances are so different. I think what has been important to us is to look forward and keep planning. Even if those plans change it makes you feel a little more in control and gives you a head start for when restrictions start lifting. We also updated our website last year, creating extra functionality and flexibility for our retailers. Being able to use the trade notice board to keep everyone up to date and for our customers to be able to place orders outside of working hours and to see what stock is available, has been invaluable during our return.