Property Developer turned successful Candle Maker

Founder of Wicks and Stones Candles Kym Eliopoulos speaks of her arduous climb to global popularity

By Jay McCarthy-Rivero Photos Janis House Photography

Success is never attained without compromise, hard-work and relentless struggle. Such a statement couldn’t possess more validity when hearing of Kym Eliopoulos’ foray into the candle-making business.

Formerly working as a property manager for a property developer based in South Melbourne, Kym wanted a change of direction, deciding to move on with her husband and two children.

“We packed up and moved down to the Mornington Peninsula,” she mentions.

“I knew it was a big risk to take but I always wanted to run my own business.”

After moving down to the peninsula, she became a regular yoga teacher, changing her lifestyle in the process.

“I began to live more sustainably and ethically, getting into crystal healing (where gemstones comprised of distinctive properties are put on the body, withdrawing negative energy). I always carried crystals in my pocket, and I wanted to introduce that to people.”

This notion of carrying around crystals actually carries a plethora of benefits, from clearing the mind to promoting luck depending on the crystal.

Kym’s personal business Wicks and Stones has been running for approximately two years, with her operating with another brand prior to its inception.

“For about two years I was making jewellery, sustainable yoga t-shirts and candles prior to starting my business. So, I’ve been in the industry for a bit over four years.”

Kym ensured she equipped herself with the skills necessary to running her desired business, integral to staying afloat in times of economic hardship.

“I attended numerous workshops and courses that candle manufacturers run, as well as visit some crystal courses. I studied business and have a Certificate IV in Business Administration.”

She admits getting her business off the ground wasn’t an easy feat, acknowledging that it wasn’t the “overnight success” story others claim it to be. Despite Wicks and Stones being in a strong position currently, there are still never-ceasing difficulties that may place the business in jeopardy if not managed properly. With each challenge  she was  constantly re-assessing, adapting and evolving. 

“As a business we grew extremely fast, due to various brands being interested in our products and our Australian made story. Our cash flow is extremely important, as we need lots of money to finance jobs for the large companies.”

Kym’s biggest break has been in America, where they were contacted by Anthropologie, a U.S.-based retail outlet that operates stores in countries including Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, she was contacted by a variety of American television shows interested in her products.

“The Good Morning America and ABC breakfast shows contacted us, wanting our candles on their shows. I also featured on The View in October this year, a women’s talk show featuring Whoopi Goldberg.”

A factor that separates her company in contrast to others is the use of their ethical and sustainable practices, which revolve around protecting Mother Nature, using natural and pure ingredients as well as supporting women, with one of the candles sold on their website having 10% of its profits donated to the Global Women’s Project. Evidently Kym’s modern business practices put some larger businesses to shame, as well as her conscious decision to listen to her customers. 

“I spent the first year trading at my local craft-markets, so I was able to talk to my people and find my tribe,” which Kym’s believes was the difference between counting followers on Instagram and actually taking the time to chat to her customers about what was truly important to them. 

“Companies need to listen to what people want now. They can’t just keep releasing products onto the mass market. A product released needs to have soul.” 

In regards to the openness of businesses, Kym went on to say that; “If a company is transparent, they have nothing to hide.”

Wicks and Stones have an astronomical 62 stockists, with 20 of these being based overseas in the U.S. They even have a stockist in New Zealand and Hawaii! Kym states “they contacted us”, arguably a testament to the excellence of her candles and holistic products.

On her company website, Kym describes herself as a yogi, an idea unbeknownst to me and a term I only knew as the name of a dog, as my godparents have a golden retriever named Yogi. 

Kym’s recent blog pertaining to ‘The Ritual of Earthing’ outlines Earthing (defined on her blog as “Any connection you have to the ground with your bare skin”) and its many benefits. In a society where our lives are busier than ever, she stresses how important it is to devote time to relaxation and living a balanced life. Which also mean’s celebrating the big and small wins with a glass or two of champagne!

“There has to be a balance and time to reconnect. You have to be mindful and ground yourself. Never underestimate the power of just 10 minutes a day of quiet time with yourself.”

Kym is joined by a group of four inspirational women; Matilda, Jax, Cara and Cynthia, with her husband joining the business also!

“My husband has quit his job after ten years at a printing company to join us and make candles!” she laughs happily.

First published in Peninsula Essence – January 2019