Marion Gerritsen catches up with Lisa Carrick from Enjoy Lighting, who at first thought the whole concept of flameless candles was tacky and now runs one of the world’s leading flameless candles companies.
If you watch reality TV shows such as The Bachelor, Big Brother, Farmer wants a Wife and Dancing with the Stars, chances are you have seen Enjoy Lighting’s candles popping up on your screen.
Since launching in 2010, the company has come a long way and is now the go to preferred mood lighting supplier for many TV shows and CEO and co-founder, Lisa Carrick, says the moment she knew she ‘made it’ was when iconic retailer Barbara Hermon from Hermon + Hermon walked onto the stand at the Home & Giving Fair and declared her love for Enjoy’s candles.
The company now exports to more than 15 countries around the world including Scandinavia, Hong Kong and Indonesia, with more countries in the pipeline.
“We initially were the distributors of Enjoy Lighting, the number one brand of flameless in the US, and then through a series of events we ended up owning the brand outright in the countries we chose to operate,” says Carrick.
While Enjoy Lighting is now a household name, launching the concept of flameless candles in a market that barely understood the word posed a significant rewrite of the company’s market strategy.
“At our first trade fair it was even difficult to get retailers visiting a trade fair to walk onto our stand,” she remembers. “Our candles look so realistic, coupled with the fact the concept of flameless was foreign, that we found ourselves having to take a step back and spend most of our time educating the market on what the word flameless actually meant.
“In the beginning, we found there were only two types of customers, both of which presented us barriers to entry; those who had an understanding of a flameless candle, but earlier designs left them unimpressed, and those who had never seen a flameless candle before so the concept drew a blank.
“Both customers presented us barriers to market to overcome and we quickly had to adapt and either spend our time demonstrating the difference between ours and what they may have previously seen in order to get to step two, which was, like those who had never seen a flameless candle before, clearly explain the features and benefits of an Enjoy flameless candle,” adds Carrick, whose mother taught her to never be afraid of a challenge.
Today, the candle range has many celebrity fans including Megan Morton, Dannii Minogue and Shaynna Blaze and their passion for the product has opened many doors for Enjoy Lighting.
“When Bureau Batek, a production company dedicated to the Luxury and Fashion industries, called us to purchase 120 of our commercial collection candles and required them in LA four days later for the first birthday celebrations of their client Isabel Marant, or when the same candles were ferried to Shanghai for the Michael Kors launch, things get a bit surreal,” she enthuses.
“Or when Chyka from Real Housewives of Melbourne decided in July that Enjoy was her Friday love, we received more than 150 enquiries from her fan base wanting to know where to buy our candles, which we then directed to our retailer base—this was so successful that we now have a planned promotion locked in for the second week of November featuring our marble candles as a giveaway.”
Planning and preparation are the keys to success but Carrick admits you also need your fair share of luck to get a business off the ground.
“Our timing, although in a difficult trading environment, turned out to be impeccable. For our first trade fair we secured a stand within three weeks of the opening that had been, unbeknown to us, vacated by a traditional candle wholesaler. So we attracted a lot of their repeat business by default and spent our time converting them to be a destination for candles as a category rather than a destination for candles with a wick.”
All of Enjoy’s candles are handmade and hand poured in a traditional candle factory-—it is not an off the shelf product; there is an enormous amount of design effort, engineering and technology involved to make them look equal to or even better than the real thing. Its latest Platinum Collection Artisan Designs Carrara Marble has been the company’s greatest success in terms of consumer response, with the range selling out before the Melbourne Gift Fairs had even started.
“Launching this design in July, our first container sold out during this year’s Decor + Design trade fair, which meant we could only sell forward orders at Home and Giving. A challenge, yes, but thankfully retailers were so enamoured with the design they were prepared to wait. The second container arrives in the last week of October so we will start shipping in the first week of November, and even with five times more stock than our opening order that is already 50 per cent pre-sold.”
More than 500 retailers currently stock Enjoy candles, and while she receives many enquiries from consumers every day via the website, Carrick says she would never sell direct to the public, instead pointing them to their nearest retailer.
“We understand our place in the food chain. We are not a retailer… Feedback from our retailers is that we do deliver a highly personalised standard of customer service. We also offer in store product knowledge training and for every staff member who attends we gift each of them our most popular candle. We know if the candle can get into the hands of those who are facing the consumer and they experience it in their own home for themselves, they will promote from the heart.”
Five years on and Carrick can truly say that as she always believed, flameless candles, when done well, are not a trend. They are, without doubt, a lifestyle choice.
“Initially we had to overcome understanding of flameless, the stigma of fake and then we had to overcome the price [slightly more expensive than a traditional candle but proven to save more than 80 per cent on an annual candle spend]. Now we are very much a brand that has established ourselves and held our own as an affordable luxury, not the most expensive flameless candle in the market by a long way, yet still in our opinion, the most realistic flameless candle in the world. An affordable luxury. No wonder the discerning homewares consumer asks for Enjoy by name,” she adds proudly.