A Candle-making family is waxing lyrical about the success of their ever-expanding 
business.

Maiden Dorset started from the back garden shed at the Winterborne Monkton home of 
Carolyn and Ron Simonds and their son Josh.

The family firm overcame flooding of their premises to move to a large industrial unit at 
Broadmayne near Dorchester, seeing sales of their unique handmade large candles 
soar.

From starting off with a small stall at Bridport Market, the Simonds now sell their 
candles at giant Christmas Markets in both Winchester and Bath.

Carolyn left her job at Marks and Spencer to start making candles, with Josh eventually 
joining her full-time at the business.

She said: “I started off years and years ago making candles in the late 1990s in the 
kitchen as a hobby,

“When I was younger I applied to go to art college in Boscombe but I never ended up 
going.”

Carolyn’s passion for candles grew and she took the plunge and gave up shop work 
after 23 years.

“I starting coming up with all these ideas for different candle designs which I would put 
in a sketch book.

“We did a lot of experimenting at first and there was a lot of trial and error.

“If I see something I like I have to have a go at making it.

“People look at a candle and think it’s just wax and wick, but there’s a lot to it,” she 
said.

The family firm has developed various designs of large candles, adorning them with 
lavender, buttons, lace and shells – giving them ornamental appeal. They range in price 
from £25 to £28.

The Broadmayne unit has a workshop, an office and even an office mascot in the shape 
of the family’s cockapoo puppy, Toff. 

Carolyn said: “When I started off doing it on my own it felt a bit isolated and I would get 
heartbroken if something went wrong and the candles wouldn’t burn right.

“And one time there was a candle I designed that had this red and orange dye and I 
remember looking at it thinking it looked like an operation, but this man came along to 
our market stall in Bridport and really liked it!”

The business, which started off as Wacky Shack Candles, experienced a major setback 
when it was hit by the floods of July 2012.
Carolyn was unable to work for three months and the business had to find a new home.

“It was a tough time catching up,” Carolyn said.

“We were working until 11pm and I’d given up my job, it wasn’t easy.”

The firm has just re-opened its shop front - using Carolyn’s skills as a former window 
dresser - and people can now stop by and browse the range of candles.

Ron still works as a building project manager but helps with the family firm and takes on 
the task of selling candles at the Christmas markets.

Josh oversees a lot of the marketing tasks and local website design business Amazing 
Creative of West Knighton has created Maiden Dorset’s website.

Josh said: “I feel really positive about the way the business has grown.

“We built it up slowly and didn’t put a big gamble on starting it.

“I feel quite lucky about what I’m doing when I speak to friends who are moaning about 
their jobs.

“It’s been a big learning curve for me, I’d had to become slowly more ruthless, which is 
hard for me as I’m always too nice, but in a business you need to get things done.
Josh added: “I used to hate candles but now I feel like I know them so well and I love 
them.

“I like to light them in my bedroom and put a bit of relaxing music on – I’m not sure if 
people would take the Mickey out of me for that!

“Sometimes people wonder what it’s like working with your family, we still have a good argument now and again but it’s mostly about petty things.

“The main rule is not to discuss the business at home.”

Next up for Maiden Dorset is developing a new line of fragranced candles and possibly taking on more members of staff. 

And as for the shed which the business developed from?
It’s still there in the family’s back garden in Winterborne Monkton and is now home to Ron’s tools.

See www.maidendorset.co.uk for more information.