Name: Georgina Robertson.

Age: 26.

What is your business called?

Ivy & Twine.

Where is it based?


What does it produce, what services does it offer?

We produce handmade candles, diffusers, soaps and lotions, and have additional lines in the making!

To whom does it sell?

A large number and variety of independent retailers who stock our products throughout Scotland and the UK. We also sell direct to our customers through our website and social media channels.

What is its turnover?

In our first year we turned over £75,000.

How many employees?

Just me and my husband, Gordon, at the moment!

When was it formed?

September 2019.

Why did you take the plunge?

It was Gordon who first suggested turning the hobby into a business after a lot of positive feedback from friends and family, who loved the candles we made for our wedding. This included using them throughout our venue to create a lovely fragrance and add some ambience, as well as personalised candles for everyone in our bridal party as gifts. Whilst I fell in love with the creative side of things and the actual candle-making process, it was Gordon’s previous business experience that encouraged me to take the plunge.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

After I graduated with a degree in Events Management from Edinburgh Napier University, I was involved in a digital marketing company for a couple of years. Whilst I learnt a lot from my time in that role, looking back I knew deep down that I didn’t feel fulfilled in a creative sense and needed something a bit more ‘hands on’… although I had no idea then how different that job would end up being!

How did you raise the start-up funding?

Well, the good thing about launching a business in between your wedding and honeymoon is having a pot of savings for said honeymoon! I still can’t decide whether it was brave or stupid, but we used a lot of this money to secure a stand at our first trade fair in Glasgow, where we actually launched our business! The remainder was used to develop our initial products. Luckily our leap of faith quite literally paid off, as we opened up accounts with several retailers, allowing us to repay the loan to ourselves.

What was your biggest break?

Our biggest break was when one of our early TikToks went viral. The video told the story of Ivy & Twine and showed people how we make our candles from scratch. The response was incredible and we saw a huge uptick in orders from around the UK. We even had interest from the US and hundreds of international customers visiting our website as a result, which led us to start shipping all over the world! The phenomenal reception also helped us attract interest from new retailers and we have set up 10 new accounts - including our first in England and Wales.

To date, the video has racked up over 6.5 million views and we have 111,000 followers on the platform.

Beyond these amazing business results, TikTok has allowed us to show the creative journey behind our business, connect with other entrepreneurs within the small business community and spread positivity at what is a difficult time for everyone. We do this through hashtags like #smallbusinesscheck and #smallbusiness.

What was your worst moment?

When we first launched our business, our goal was to focus on selling wholesale to shops and so this made up over 90 per cent of our turnover. We’d only been up and running for six months when the majority of our retailers were forced to close due to Covid-19. This made us question many things… Would we ever get paid? How long will this go on? Will our small independent retailers survive and be able to reopen? How will we survive now that our entire business can effectively no longer trade, and we are not eligible for any grants or help?

The pandemic switched much of our focus to reaching customers via digital platforms like TikTok.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I love the fact that I can work together with my husband doing something we’re both so passionate about in differing but complementary ways. Whilst I enjoy the creative side of the business - whether that’s candle-making, designing new products, or social media - Gordon is really good at managing the more technical and business side of things.

What do you least enjoy?

Sourcing the supplies and raw materials needed to make our products. It’s never a fun job ordinarily but recently due to Covid-19 and Brexit there’s been a huge shortage in wax especially, and there have been months where we’ve been unable to get hold of a single box!

What are your ambitions for the firm?

We would love Ivy & Twine to be a brand that Scotland can call its own, with international recognition. We have already had a number of enquiries from shops in the States but we are not currently in a position to facilitate the [bulk] orders in a responsible and guaranteed manner, so we are holding fire on that.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Provide support for small businesses who have managed to restructure to come out of lockdown stronger than when they went in. For example, we will soon need a unit to allow our business to grow which will have a huge amount of initial outlay (we expect circa £50,000 before any form of machinery). Our business has now been operational for longer in lockdown than out, without the ability to obtain any form of grant funding. If that hasn’t proven that we are on the right track, I’m not sure what will!

How do you relax?

We love getting out and about on nice walks with our Golden Retriever, Penny… That and a good series to binge on on Netflix, of course!