• Kristy Payne: Founder of Maison Blanche (Supplied )Source: Supplied
A small loan from her mother in 2011 – and her fascination for vanilla bean candles, was all Kristy Payne needed to start Maison Blanche – a candle and home fragrance business which now sells products in over 150 stores nationally.
Douglas Smith

SBS Small Business Secrets
20 Apr 2018 - 3:35 PM  UPDATED 23 Apr 2018 - 2:46 PM

A unique sense of smell and empty pockets before Christmas was what drove Kristy Payne to come up with the idea of hand-making candles to give to her family as gifts.

“Christmas was coming up and I didn’t have any money, so I decided to actually make some for my family," Ms Payne says.

“My mom was able to give me around $400 to buy some supplies.

Clients spread the word about Ms Payne’s unique craft and before she knew it, she was making candles in her kitchen and selling them to family and friends for $20 a pop.

“From making candles at home in my kitchen to a launch date on Etsy about two, two and a half months later, I was able to get it out into the market as soon as possible,” she said.

“Last year we sold over 20,000 candles, and we had revenue of over $300,000 for that year.

“We hand make everything in Sydney and we try to keep everything as natural as we can,” she said.

In her first three years of business, she didn’t pay herself a wage and put all of her profits back into growing her brand.

Now with the success of Maison Blanche so far, Ms Payne plans to expand internationally in 2019, but says she had to go through quite a few hurdles to get to where she is today.

“Being a young person in business, I feel that occasionally I’m not taken seriously and I get taken advantage of by suppliers, and being a woman ties into that as well because a lot of the time, you’re dealing with men in business when you’re buying large supplies of anything, even in a female dominated industry like candles,” she said.

“When you feel that you’re not taken seriously, or discriminated against, it makes me feel horrible, but from that horribleness arises a sort of spite to do better."

It's this drive that's helped her get her candles in 150 boutique stores across Australia, with no plans on slowing down soon.

“Candles are quite a fantastic product to be manufacturing and selling because there is a huge demand for candles and home fragrance," she says.

“It’s an affordable luxury. It’s a sensory delight."

Watch this story at the top of the page, or catch the full episode on SBS On Demand.