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Business Musings

  • The Celebration of Good

    For many years we had a Nepali candlemaker at Queen B and as we had lunch together every day I got to know a lot about Nepalese culture… with one Hindu and one Buddhist parent, I got to know a lot of those too and the various celebrations and festivals. [Readmore]
  • Business Tips: Standing for Something

    I’m often asked by customers who are also small business owners for advice on running a small business. With a big business background I guess I’ve brought a lot of those lessons and learnings with me into Queen B. Whether you’re running a small business, you’re running a big business or you’re a small cog in a big business, what I’ve learned is universally applicable. [Readmore]
  • There's no such thing as FREE shipping!

    For years now I've been reading "research" showing that when you offer "free" shipping your online sales increase exponentially... and for years I've been resisting because ultimately there is no such thing as free shipping, it is simply built into the cost of a product and I haven't wanted to put our prices up. [Readmore]
  • You ask. We deliver!... more options in the Bulk Tealights & Tapers packs

    You may remember that a few months ago we did a survey.  The response was way better than we could ever have even dreamed - several hundred of you taking the time to share your thoughts.  The content is literally pure gold.  There are so many beautiful comments.  So many fantastic ideas.  So much constructive feedback.   We've spent literally hours poring over the feedback.  Some of the comments need a response (I'll do that in later blog posts).  Some of the ideas can't be done and others will take months or even years to execute.  And others we can do right now.  So we have!

    So, in response to your feedback/requests we're launching mini-bulk boxes for our 4-5hr and 8-9hr tealights and for our 12 hr (20cm) taper candles. So the options you have now are as follows:

    4-5hr Tealights

    • Box of 9 x 4-5hr beeswax tealight candles (metal cups)
    • Mini Bulk Box of 72 x 4-5hr beeswax tealight candles (metal cups) - 10% cheaper per candle than in box of 9
    • Bulk Box of 105 x 4-5hr beeswax tealight candles (metal cups) - 20% cheaper per candle than in box of 9
    • Bag of 25 x 4-5hr beeswax tealight candles (clear cups)
    • Mini Bulk Box of 69 x 4-5hr beeswax tealight candles (clear cups) - 10% cheaper per candle than in bag of 25
    • Bulk Box of 105 x 4-5hr beeswax tealight candles (clear cups) - 20% cheaper per candle than in bag of 25

    8-9hr Tealights

    • Box of 9 x 8-9hr beeswax tealight candles (metal cups)
    • Mini Bulk Box of 48 x 8-9hr beeswax tealight candles (metal cups) - 10% cheaper per candle than in box of 9
    • Bulk Box of 96 x 8-9hr beeswax tealight candles (metal cups) - 20% cheaper per candle than in box of 9
    • Bag of 25 x 8-9hr beeswax tealight candles (clear cups)
    • Mini Bulk Box of 42 x 8-9hr beeswax tealight candles (clear cups) - 10% cheaper per candle than in bag of 25
    • Bulk Box of 84 x 8-9hr beeswax tealight candles (clear cups) - 20% cheaper per candle than in bag of 25

    20cm Tapers 

    • Box of 5 x 20cm beeswax taper candles
    • Mini Bulk Box of 21 x 20cm beeswax taper candles - 10% cheaper per candle than in box of 5
    • Bulk Box of 40 x 20cm beeswax taper candles - 20% cheaper per candle than in box of 5

    pure beeswax tealight candles burn brighter than the northern lights

    Photograph from Katrina Gill.

  • My recent visit to Dom Perignon

    You may have noticed I've been a little quiet of late... I was busy living one of my dreams!

    As someone who is passionate about taking the best of what nature has to offer and then perfecting the craft of utilising it, I have long been a fan of Dom Perignon.  In this day and age of mechanisation and the mass production of everything, I love it on that rare occasion where tradition (and the recognition that often hand made is simply better) prevails - and Dom Perignon is one of those rare examples... the grapes picked by hand.  The bottles riddled by hand.

    You may recall, because I blogged about it here, that a couple of years ago I did a light sculpture for Dom Perignon at Vue de Monde.  Researching for the sculpture I was fascinated by the long history of monks keeping bees with Dom Pierre Perignon a monk of the Benedictine order (DOM = Deus Optimus Maximus - the highest 'rank' of monk) and their history with making beeswax candles.  The sculpture itself is not a candle but utilises the translucent beauty of beeswax whilst celebrating the iconic Dom Perignon bottle.

    Anyway, finally this year I fulfilled my dream of visiting the abbey where Dom Perignon lived (and the caves where Dom Perignon is now made and matured).  As it turns out, Rocco (Wine Director at Vue de Monde) told them I was someone important and I was given the royal, VIP treatment.  A more worthy person would just take in their stride... I kept on pinching myself!

    Wanting to share it, I felt that the images alone were too static and didn't do it justice, so I put this little something together... escape to the Champagne region in France even if it is only for a couple of minutes.  Goodness knows I've relived it many times in the past few weeks.

    Cate xx


  • And you call that a job?!

    Is it called a "job" when you do something that you absolutely, passionately, heart and soul LOVE every day?

    Do you call it a job when you work with people you genuinely like and other people that you genuinely like call you up, pop in or send you emails wanting some of what you've created with your bare hands?

    Surely there isn't a job in the world where you get emails like this...

    "Thank you for the fastest delivery I ever experienced.

    When I opened the boxes I felt as if I was opening up a box of the most delicious fine chocolates without the calories, just the pure delight of the fragrant beeswax, and as for the furniture polish, well my first thought  was that the furniture was going to receive a treatment I wish my own chemical sensitive skin was in desperate need of (especially in winter). 

    Bit quirky, maybe, but there you go.  I thought you might be interested in my experience. Any chance of a good chemical free effective skin moisturiser in the future?

    Oh and the Bee Lights gift are just awesome. Thank you so much.

    A happy (if somewhat dry) customer. :)


    Or how about this one from one of another beautiful soul using our bee created light to send light where it is needed most

    "Thank you, lovely Bees, for my amazing tea lights and Bee Lights. They make winter so pleasant.
    I use your lovely gift, the jam jars -how adorable small are they, thank you! - to think of the ones - children, women and other victims - being killed in wars. Sending some light to war zones is the least I can do.
    We hope you are well, Cate and team! 
    Kindest regards, Y"
    Sometimes we have to pull out all stops when light is needed fast, but we are rewarded tenfold with emails like this one last week

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for getting the candles to me so quickly.  They are absolutely beautiful and the personalised candle is already much loved.

    When I opened the front door this morning it was there waiting for me. I was not expecting it to arrive until later today. Consequently my mum and I were able to take it this morning to the place where my Nan was being cremated at 8am and we lit it for her there. 
    Nan's candle and the tapers will then be taken to the wake tomorrow where I will light it again. All the guests will then be lighting their tapers off Nan's candle. 

    Again, thank you so much for the effort you put in to make sure I had the candles I wanted in time for the remembrance.

    With much appreciation, 

    And then there are the customers that are wonderful storytellers in their emails and we're transported to their side like this one a couple of days ago
    "Hi Queen B,
    Many thanks for my recent order of beautiful bee glassware and tea lights, what a beautiful gift to myself!!!   It is burning loveliness beside me as I make myself comfortable in my special chair and relax at the end of the day.
    Just love your beeswax candles and all that Queen B and the little workers stand for, just pure goodness and great quality products.
    Best wishes,
    It's pretty hard not to be passionate about what you do when you get to play a role in supporting bees and beekeepers and sending out light every day AND you get emails like these in return.  When I saw it advertised in heaven I applied for the job immediately.  And people wonder why I love working so much?!
    Thanks for allowing us all to do what we love.
    Cate xx
  • Harnessing the talent within

    We know from experience you're a talented bunch so we thought we'd try to harness some of that photographic talent.  To be honest, we're also stretched thin and we really just need help :-)

    If you've ever ordered from us online, you would have received a copy of our educational information cards.  Well they're about to run out so we're going to do an overhaul.  In particular, this time I would like to do one which shows some of the imaginative ways of using Bee Lights.  I often speak to customers who don't use them because they don't know what to burn them in... and that's a crying shame as I think they're one of the most beautiful things we make.

    So, they say that a picture speaks a thousand words!  Let's show them the million things you can use as a Bee Light candleholder.

    Any photographs chosen to go on our new printed info cards will receive a $200 gift voucher to buy any candles they want from Queen B online.  Grab your iPhone or your camera, fire up your Bee Lights and your imagination and send through your results!

    Entries open: NOW!

    Entries close: 11th August (that's 2 weeks away)

    Entries via: either post them on our Facebook page or post on Instagram and tag @queenbcandles

    Stuff to know: By entering you expressly give us permission to use your image in social media and online (that's pretty obvious given you would have posted it online!) and we undertake that anywhere that we use the image we will credit you as the photographer (unless you say you don't want us to)!  For the images used on the printed info cards we will most likely not credit photographers as it can make things look cluttered and messy given the images will be quite small. Here are a few of the idea I had when I first photographed them (you'll see why I need help with the photography)!

    For a light brighter than the northern light burn Queen B beeswax Bee Light candles

    For a brighter light than the northern light burn beeswax Bee Light candles

    Pure beeswax candles Bee Lights from Queen B

  • Sources of inspiration - Local is Lovely

    I absolutely love reading and I love learning.  Occasionally I come across something that makes me stop mid stride.  It could be something really mind bending or poignant.  Or writings so raw you sometimes feel like you're reading their diary.  I subscribe to my fair share of food blogs (try the Life Changing Bread... you won't look back!) and often I'm reading about people who are creating their dream life (her backstory, which seems to have been removed from the blog, is fabulous), following their dreams or writers who tell a great yarn.

    This morning I was reading a blog I love.  Sophie from Local is Lovely interviewed Hannah from The Perthville Pantry.  Reading her 5 lessons/insights for people thinking about starting a branded meat or small agribusiness  how they want to live each day summed up EXACTLY what I would tell people (although I have struggled in the past to put it so succinctly).  Read and ponder.  It's worth the few moments of your life.  It is also a manifesto for the Queen B story.

    What are five lessons/resources/insights you'd share with young farmers like yourself, who are thinking about starting a branded meat or small agribusiness themselves?

    1. Determine your passion and build an enterprise around that.  It’s a joy to work if you love what you do.
    2. Think big and question mainstream wisdom.  Do your own research.
    3. Back yourself.  Forget about what you think others think of you.  You can stand tall if you stay true to your own values.
    4. Write down your dreams and aspirations.  You’ll be amazed at what comes to fruition.
    5. Continue to learn. Read, attend courses and network.
    Perthville Pantry post from Local is Lovely blog Hannah from Perthville Pantry

    I emailed Sophie this morning to see if she would mind me sharing and, being the sweet soul she is she said go right ahead.  She also gave me permission to share the Gummy Pigs recipe (with raw honey)!

    Gummy Pigs

    3 tablespoons grassfed gelatine
    1/3 cup lemon and lime juice
    2 to 3 tablespoons raw honey
    1 to 2 slices of fresh beetroot for the pink piggy colour

    Whisk lemon and lime juice, honey and gelatine in a sauce pan until there are no lumps.  Heat over low heat until melted.  Add the fresh beetroot and remove once the desired colour is obtained.  Pour mixture into silicone piggy moulds and pop in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Remove from the moulds and enjoy.

    Here are the gummy pigs

    Gummy pig recipe from Perthville Pantry on Local is Lovely blog Gummy Pigs - Perthville Pantry

    I'm going to see if I can find me bee moulds and perhaps try pineapple? or turmeric!!

    Happy reading (and cooking if you're so inclined)!

    Cate xx

  • Letter of the week

    I chose this week's love letter for two reasons.  Firstly because I love someone who goes and does their own research and then forms their own opinion and secondly because I happened to have another call from a concerned customer this week about this very issue and so the email was timely.

    As I said in return, "I get so torn between "rising above it" (which a lot of people espouse and which makes a lot of sense to me) and then being so angry and incensed that people are being completely misled and the injustice of it all (to our business, our staff and our customers).  Whilst you seem to have read through it, I hear about and meet people regularly who are reading it on a superficial level (because they're busy) and they're buying it."

    "Hi Cate,

    I just read your post on chlorine and then located and checked out the offending website to sate my curiosity.  What an "ode to an ego" it seemed, all the way through.  The person in question is quite good at sounding as though he knows what he is talking about, at a superficial level - by subtly misdirecting the reader.  Very calculated.  It seems disturbingly personal - and directed at you.
    I also felt the fuss about candle painting was sour grapes -  he offers nothing as sophisticated as your decorative pillars.  It is far easier to put someone else down than come up to the mark.
    Anyhow, bravo to you for standing your ground, whilst retaining your dignity and grace.  Mr obfuscation is showing poor form and I wouldn't buy his candles on principle (as well as the fact that I love yours so why would i change). Anyway, as I said, he offers far less in every way.
    Keep doing what you do so well,
    Having worked every day of the long weekend, I can assure you that I'm not doing Queen B because it gives me work/life balance.  Having not put prices up in 8 years, I can assure you that I'm not doing Queen B for money.  So why do it then?  Because I'm completely obsessed with bees.  I'm passionate about minimising chemicals in our homes.  I'm passionate about the environment.  I get to meet extraordinary people.  Because if I'm going to do something a gazillion hours a week then I want to do something where I feel as if I'm making a difference.  And most of all because I love making and sending out light.  If you think about for just a second, that really is an amazing thing to be able to do with your life.
    Feeling blessed,
    Cate xx
  • Letter of the week

    We are the recipients of a huge volume of really extra-ordinary mail here at Queen B.  Emails.  Letters/cards.  Facebook posts.  They're the pep in our step.  The wind in our sails.  The hand holding us up.

    Given the big difference it makes to us, I thought we'd pay it forward.  So, each week we're going to pick a "Letter of the week".  We'll publish it and send the lovely writer a little extra Queen B bee-created light.  In some ways its trifling to pick 52 bits of feedback from the hundreds that we received, but I figure we're better doing something that nothing at all.

    Seriously, lovely letters are what make the world go around.  I don't think that I am unique in small business in completely doing my head in (!!) over-thinking everything, and making sure that every decision I make it ethical and sustainable etc.  So it's really lovely to be reminded to lift your head to the light and to remember what we're doing here and the difference we're making.

    Today was a really special day which is perhaps why it finally struck me that I needed to do this!  We received several really lovely emails, but one in particular really touched me.  She wrote about an issue that has long concerned me and never written about because I was sick of negativity!  I share her email here:

    "Dear Cate and Sarah,

    You truly spoil me.  You cannot imagine my surprise to find my beautiful candles waiting for me so soon after I ordered when I got back home this morning after a trip to the shop.  It wasn't until I opened the box and got a glorious waft of honey that I knew who my parcel was from.

    I expressed how much I loved your products yesterday but I had only sample the jam jar tea lights. As I unwrapped each item I grew more and more excited. And the lollipops! How novel! I cannot wait to try them!

    I have to say it again. You're products are AMAZING and you should be so proud.

    Thank you again,

    Thank you K.  Your email really touched all of us.  I'm not sure that I am particularly deft at negotiating great marketing with running an ethical business.  But I do know that all 3 of us turn up at Queen B every day and give it everything that we have to give (and sometimes more).  And it's lovely when that is appreciated.

    Thank you to all of you who communicate with us - be it in comments, Facebook posts, emails, letters or on the phone.  May you be the recipient of a random gift of light (be it from us or from someone else) in return.

    Cate xx


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