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'Everywhere resembled shrines' - Sutherland entrepreneur learns skill and creates successful business over 12 months of hard work

By Rachel Smart

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Sandie Gordon.
Sandie Gordon.

A 30-year-old entrepreneur from the Highlands has successfully built a thriving business from the ground up in the past 12 months. Meet Sandie Gordon, the proud owner of Candles from the Croft, a venture dedicated to crafting candles and fragrances sourced entirely from her Altass land.

Discussing the creation of her business, she reflected: "I wanted a change from my previous job. I was a director in project management for a company, but I wanted to be more home-based.

“I started doing market research and I realised there was a gap in the market, where I could offer a product using my natural land and that’s where I developed the idea of candles from the croft.”

Over six weeks, Sandie immersed herself in learning the art of candle making from scratch, undertaking intensive training and thorough online research. She humorously recounted: "There was a LOT of testing; everywhere resembled shrines! There wasn't much sleep happening."

Emphasising sustainability, cruelty-free practices, and vegan friendly products, every aspect of Sandie's offerings, down to the hand-poured glass jars, adheres to these principles. Foraging the family-owned croft, she utilises natural products to create an array of distinctive scents, including Highland gorse, wild mint and Scottish heather.

She said: “The packaging is recycled and the ink on stickers is biodegradable. It’s an intense thought-out process to make every idea as natural as possible.”

Sandie says that her secret to success is just simply being herself, and not trying to sell things to people that they don’t need.

“I’ve got quite an informal way of dealing with people,” she explained.

“I’m just honest with everything I offer. If someone comes and speaks to me and I think it's not for them, I’m not going to waste their time or mine, there’s just no point.

“I keep it friendly – everything I make I would have in my own home – it’s a luxury product at an affordable price.

“Refills are offered throughout the whole range and I try to say it’s a one-time purchase but you are getting so much more.”

Setting out on such a venture would surely lead someone to discover certain aspects about themselves, and Sandie has certainly uncovered a few traits over the last 12 months.

She joked: “I’ve learned that I’m hard work and not in a good way!

“I think I just realised that I never expected to be in this position working for myself at this age – I’ve got quite a lot of fire in my belly and quite a lot of drive behind me!

“I knew I was determined but I think it just hit me harder and I can see how much that determination comes through in different opportunities.”

Over 2024, Sandie hopes to continue the growth of her business and get her range into larger stores, as well as taking on a member of staff.

Her dream is to one day have her own shop, stocking a larger range of fragrances that keep her ethos of natural, Scottish products at the centre.

She concluded: “The goal is to have my own shop – a shop with workshops of the process so people can see what goes on with it all!”

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