Meet Nidderdale-Based Model Turned Entrepreneur Who Has set up Meadow Farm Lifestyle
Nidderdale-based Meadow Farm Lifestyle specialises in luxury candles inspired by the Yorkshire countryside
Originally from Leeds, Rachel started her career as a beautician before moving to London to become a model. Giving up the London lifestyle, she wanted to move back up North to raise her two young children. ‘After London I came back to Yorkshire and settled in Harrogate. I went from a party lifestyle to living on a farm with four donkeys, 19 hens and 80,000 bees, and it’s an ever-evolving farmstead,’ she says.
Rachel has always had a passion for the outdoors and being amongst nature, but it wasn’t until she took up candle making as a hobby that she realised she could turn her passion into a business. ‘One of my girls got a little candle set for Christmas and I made the candles with them. Then I started making candles for family and friends and it evolved because people loved them so much,’ she explains.
‘I’m a perfectionist so I made sure I bought the best products, the perfect perfumes and the best oils. I was obsessed with getting the scents right because I’ve always loved candles, but I could never find ones which didn’t smell synthetic, or which wouldn’t give me a headache. I do know a few gorgeous natural brands, but I’m very fussy with the scent,’ Rachel says.
Rachel’s candles are all inspired by her surroundings. ‘All my products are organic, sustainable and where possible, I use only biodegradable packaging. I get the inspiration for each of my scents from my surroundings. I’ve always had a really good sense of smell and wanted to keep all the scents natural. The first one I made was Citrus Mint, because I’m always picking from our herb garden. The second, Into the Woods, was inspired by walking the dogs in the woods, and Wildflowers was because we have a wildflower meadow in the garden. Yorkshire Bramble is my latest candle as in late August/September time we have a massive blackberry bush along one of the fields. I didn’t want to make the scent too sweet, so it’s got a woody-oaky tone mixed in with the blackberries,’ she explains.
Rachel says it was her husband who encouraged her to start selling her handmade candles, saying they would be a hit. ‘I got little labels and made them look nice, but I was quite apprehensive. I was nervous to put myself out there,’ she says. However, she made the jump and set up social media accounts, posting about the new business. Once her candles started selling, and she started getting good reviews, Rachel’s confidence grew. ‘I just thought I would see what happens. To be honest, I didn’t think there was really a gap in the market because my business started as just candles, but when I decided to change it into more of a lifestyle brand I did see a gap. Turning [Meadow Farm Lifestyle] into more of a lifestyle brand and keeping it sustainable and living off the land kind of thing, I thought it might be a bit different.’
Now Rachel has expanded her range to include reed diffusers and bath salts, as well as a food range including honey, eggs and granola which she uses ingredients from her farm to make. ‘There are so many other things in the pipeline too and I’ve only been doing this since January, so I hope a year down the line, there will be more exciting things to come.’
Meadow Farm Lifestyle products are already being stocked in local shops. ‘One of the really well-known farm shops in Harrogate are going to stock my candles from September, and a few other local business already stock them too. The customer base has gone crazy and although I was prepared to get some negative feedback at some point, because it happens to every business, I can honestly say that I’ve not had any so far,’ Rachel says.
Being a true family brand means Rachel relies on those around her to help with her new-found business. ‘The girls help with the candles and we recycle all the glass jars, as a lot of my clients are currently Harrogate-based so they give me the jars back and we wash and recycle them. I have two step-daughters too and when they’re around they help out. I think it’s why farm shops work around Yorkshire, because a lot of them here are family-run. That’s just what I wanted my business to be,’ Rachel explains.
Rachel is already planning her next line of candles. ‘I’ve got an idea for something to do with rain or a river scent, and I’ve got Christmas scents as well. I like to test the candles extensively and if they’re not perfect then I won’t put them out to customers,’ she says.
Alongside the candle range she plans to expand further as a lifestyle brand. Rachel hopes to develop a vegetable patch, and add to her beehives. ‘At the moment I’ve got two beehives which are 80,000 bees. I will probably get 10 to 20 more hives to help grow the honey side of the business as I’ve got my extractor and I have done a few bee courses so I know what I’m doing,’ she adds.
Although Meadow Farm Lifestyle candles are currently made using sustainable, eco-friendly soy wax and cotton wicks, Rachel hopes to use beeswax in the future to become even more sustainable. ‘You just need a lot of it and it’s hard to get from the hives. There are so many health benefits to honey too. We may get more animals and we’re thinking of getting a milking dairy cow because we like the idea of raw milk, and we’ll probably get pigs in the future and maybe ducks and geese – it really is ever-evolving.’