Updated: Sep 18, 2020
I knew that it would only be a matter of time before my blog began to drop the odd entrepreneur into it – when you’re surrounded by enterprising individuals every day it’s hard not to be inspired.
After a bit of soul searching I decided I’d like to begin a new series focusing on the concept of the #GirlBoss and why being a female entrepreneur is something special.
The first person I want to shine a spotlight on is Keely Parsons, founder of Sassy Shop Wax (SSW).
If you haven’t already heard of SSW, do you even wax melt?
A wax melt is a scented piece of wax, much like what you’d find in a candle jar - but without the wick. To release the scent and fill your home with fragrance, you warm up and melt the wax melt using either an electric burner or a tealight heated burner.
Both options have different benefits, with electric burners considered to be a safer option while the more traditional tealight burner has been said to provide a better scent ‘throw’.
Keely’s brand has a cult following on the dedicated Facebook group with people coming together to discuss all things from wax scents to baby names. In this group everything goes which could be a brand’s worst nightmare – however members treat the group as a real community with friendships made and heart to hearts occurring on a daily basis.
It’s uncommon for a group on a platform such as Facebook to house such a positive vibe and bring people together with real spirit.
So before we get into what an anomaly her following is, I found out a little bit more about Keely.
Just before the idea of SSW I would say I was in a very creative phase of my life. It had an artistic kind of “haven't got my shit together” kind of vibe. I had just moved out - I was a teenager making sense of the world.
I acknowledged my depression and anxiety from feeling like I wasn’t where I needed to be. Off the back of that, I had a strong sense of knowing and a certain pressure on myself to search for something that was going to give me the life I wanted to live.
Looking back at it now, I am so grateful for being unhappy or feeling frustrated, although it wasn't at all fun at the time, it made me look for what I wanted.
In terms of my career, it didn't take me long to discover that climbing the corporate 9-5 ladder wasn't going to be the answer. I remember looking at some of my colleagues who had been working for the company I worked for 40 years and asking myself “is this it?”
For me, it wasn’t. Before the big idea or “spark” as I like to call it, I had the idea that if I could make a lot of money, I’d feel more fulfilled or free. It was quite the opposite, I stepped into a recruitment role where you were expected to work long hours to succeed and my creative side was crushed by strict processes in the hope of earning a £10k month like my colleagues. There was this constant fear upon you that you could be fired at any moment.
I can remember my colleague telling me once “Why are you doing that wax stuff? You know you won’t need to do that when you earn money like me here” I thank him today for that comment.
Like I said, I am super grateful for every job I have had because now I recognise how many lessons I had that if I didn't experience, SSW wouldn't be what it is today. It taught me so much.”
It’s not a brand new concept, but wax melting has increasingly grown in popularity recently. But why?
Wax melts work out to be much more cost-effective than buying candles. By using two cubes of Sassy Shop Wax melt bars, it costs just 55p and can typically last 12-16 hours! That’s 60-80 hours per bar, for just £2.90.
While some Sassy fans love super strong scents, and others prefer a more subtle fragrance – with wax melts you can control the intensity of the fragrance by using a little more or less per burner.
Another intriguing part about the wax melting hype is being able to concoct your own scent blends by burning two different scents together in one burner – this creativity often results in aesthetically pleasing wax pools shared in the Facebook group.
There are so many possibilities for new scent combinations to create.
I wondered whether Keely had an inkling of what her future success could look like at the point where SSW was just an idea in her mind.
“I often get asked this and honestly, yes I did!
I had what I call a ‘spark’, it’s when I have an idea and I’m so overcome with a strong intuition and sense of knowing – even ending up covered in goosebumps!
It started when I was lying in bed with the potential of SSW spiraling in my mind, along with thoughts of the wax melt market and other innovations.
I couldn’t sleep with excitement. I felt aligned, and since researching this kind of intuition I know that others also have these thought experiences too which immediately changes their mindset and ultimately their life. I think without that feeling I’d have given up somewhere along the way - especially when I would go weeks or even months without one sale.”
On the SSW website, hundreds of scents are listed each week with everything from Blueberry Lemon Doughnut, Eucalyptus & Mint or Unicorn to Tropical Smoothie, there’s almost too much to choose from. Given that there are so many choices, what is Keely’s own favourite?
“It was a Lavender & Tonka scent that smelt like my favourite bath bomb. That’s where the passion started. I can remember thinking, one day I can have a shop that everyone knows as the “shop that smells nice” that you can smell from the start of the shopping centre all the way though.
Sassy Exclusive Scents are my favourite. Mainly because most of them have been created by myself or our customers and it makes them that extra bit special. With a lot of other wax brands, you will always find the same scents as businesses tend to use the same suppliers.
I’m passionate about creativity and fragrance so the moment we hit the point where we sold enough units to be able to create our own new, innovative scents that you can’t find anywhere else on the market was a dream come true.”
Launching a business any time is difficult, but doing so while working a full-time job can be challenge. While Keely didn’t find launching her empire painful, she does refer to having been in pain at the time:
“I was 100% tunnel vision and full of fire and passion.
However, when I tell people I worked 12 hour days, commuting for two hours, then made wax for hours each evening whilst pregnant - sometimes without making any sales and ploughing in 7k without a penny; people usually have an ‘Eeek’ look on their face, or disbelief that I even bothered and didn’t give up.”
Keeley found it difficult keeping up the 12-hour shifts, with the commute and trying to spend quality time with her son – it just wasn’t a workable option.
“If someone told me they could guarantee SSW would be where it is today; I would have spent ten times that and worked until 4am every day.”
As mentioned, the SSW Facebook page is home to hundreds of wax enthusiasts sharing their wax stashes – some have drawers with more than 100 bars! Cultivating any kind of audience can be difficult, I was interested to find out how she managed to create such a community.
“Having accidentally fallen into having a large personal audience my best advice on engagement is authenticity. I don’t have to find ways to keep people engaging, they just do. I am not afraid to thank people, show gratitude and share my journey.
I truly care about customer feedback & what they want from SSW because when you listen to your customers SSW naturally evolves into being more and more aligned with our ideal customer.
The real magic is that the more the customer feels valued, the more they care about your journey, success and their contribution. Then it becomes a community. I believe nothing truly great was built without a community and a team.”
When you’re as synonymous with your brand as Keely is, it can be difficult to create boundaries for yourself.
“I tend to not post on my personal pages unless it's something I am really proud of or I think needs to be heard. I keep my personal pages private and I had to decide to not open messages over Facebook Messenger and have all queries directed to the business.
It was a tough decision but I found myself being contacted regarding orders at 11pm and because I was online, I felt a duty of care to reply. Since then I have had a much better balance of home/work life.”
With there being so many scents available to customers there must be a few that stick out as being fan faves.
“Our six best-selling scents are Snow Pixie, Bedtime Baby, Blueberry and Vanilla, Rhubie Rose, La Vie est Bon and Strawberry Lily. We sold over 30,000 units last month (not including starter pack sales) which was a really proud moment for everyone at Sassy HQ."
There’s such a buzz online whenever SSW announce their restocks, it keeps an element of mystery and excitement as customers continually refresh the webpage and have in the past caused website crashes.
“We plan to keep the restock model in the future but be able to grow production and stock levels so that fragrances don’t sell out on the same night.”
Given that Keely now heads such a successful wax business, you’d assume that burning different fragrances would be an integral part of her life.
“I actually prefer to melt my wax as a form of ritual or self care. Getting prepared for a meeting, a soak in the bath, during meditation, after cleaning the house or if we are having friends or family over.
I really like the idea of connecting with memories or moods. Just like when you like wine you match it with your meal - I'd pick Sassy Slumber before stepping in the bath or Avo Wash to wake my senses before an important meeting.
Every moment has its perfect scent.”
Very excitingly, Keely is expecting a little bundle of joy at the end of the year but things shouldn’t be expected to change too much.
“It’s really a great time as we have a brilliant structure that is growing with everyone having their own responsibilities.
We’ve just hired four new members of staff including Customer Care/PA & Graduate Marketing Executive. I’m really grateful to have such a hardworking team that I can rely on. We plan to have quite a few promotions within the company over the next 2 months.
I don’t plan on stepping back, I’m going to take the time we need but I often joke that I will be working from the hospital bed.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be keeping an eye on Keely and Sassy Shop Wax as I can see this being the next big thing and I can’t wait to see where she ends up.
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