Find the perfect business partner - work with your mum
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Suffolk-based Arya Candles business is one year old
It was more of a dream in the beginning, but like all the best dreams it wasn’t so terribly hard, with a bit of faith and determination, to make it come true.
As we all do, Jenny Hogg would wonder: Is there a way around working long hours in a job where you are not really appreciated?
Is there a way to have a boss who completely “gets” you?
And could there ever be a job which allows you to make money but also achieve something for the greater good at the same time?
To some, that list of demands would sound a bit like a joke.
But not to Jenny. Because not only did she find the answer, she realised it was right in front of her all the time.
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The answer was to start a business with her mum, Lina Hogg.
Jenny and Lina have been in business together for over a year now.
Their business, Arya Candles, began in Lina’s kitchen, where the pair of them, helped by Lina’s chemistry skills (she has a degree in chemistry from Cardiff University), made up their own candle recipes.
“We’d been on holiday to Crete and we returned home at 3am to find the power had gone out,” says Lina. “It was a chilly October and we were without any power for over two days, so once we ran out of candles, we had to improvise.
“And that’s when we realised we could make our own business, by recycling old wax.
“We always joked about how great it would be to go into business together, but we never thought we’d do it,” says Jenny, 28, from Cretingham, near Otley.
“We’ve always got on so well and had ideas together, and Mum has always been an inspiration to me...”
Now they only use ethically-sourced soy wax for their products.
Lina certainly has an entrepreneurial spirit ? she set up her own human resources business, Picasso HR, when Jenny was 13. “I remember this sense of Mum taking control of her life when she started her own company,” Jenny recalls, while Lina describes how the business came about after she had Jenny and her older sister Helen and never quite found the right fit for her skills.
“People underestimate how difficult it can be to get back into work after having children,” Lina says.
“I’d been a systems analyst but I lacked confidence, so I signed up for a course. The lady running it told me I should be running courses, not being on them!”
Lina ended up becoming one of the trainers with Link Training, then had several roles in HR before realising there was a niche opportunity to work for herself.
“A lot of smaller firms will have HR responsibilities but not their own HR department,” she says. “That’s where Picasso HR comes in.”
Jenny, who has a degree in film studies and history of art from the University of Kent in Canterbury, and spent four years teaching English in South Korea, has always worked with her mother. “I used to do her mail-shots when she was starting Picasso”, and now they’ve made it more official.
There are occasional “debates” ? “we’re both very opinionated!” ? but compromise is key.
“And besides, if we agreed all the time, it wouldn’t be good for the creative process,” says Lina, firmly.
Their business, of course, is designed to make a profit but they also contribute money they make to Women for Women International, a far-reaching project which works with women from war-torn countries including Afghanistan and Rwanda, providing education and opportunities for them to become economically self- sufficient.
Lina explains that their motto is People, planet, profit, while Jenny adds: “Our goal is to sponsor 50 women within the next five years.”
I wouldn’t bet against them.