25-year-old Keely Parsons, has grown her kitchen table wax melt side-hustle into an incredible multi-million pound business!
Growing Sassy Shop Wax from her kitchen table to a multi-million pound business, 25 year old Bristol-based entrepreneur and mum of 2, Keely Parsons is an inspiration. Keely started a new hobby aged 18 after spotting a gap in the market and being heavily led by her intuition that told her this business could be a global success, but little did she know just where this kitchen-table side-hustle would take her, especially in the early days when she worked 12 hour days when pregnant, ploughed thousands into the business – and got zero sales for months on end. SassyShopWax.com is now heading for a turnover of £2.5m, with a loyal following, an ever-growing social media reach of over 100,000, celeb fans (including the GC herself – Gemma Collins…) and items stocked in; Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing and I Saw It First.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role?
My name is Keely Parsons, I’m a 25-year-old Mum and Founder of the growing company, Sassy Shop Wax. We supply people with unique smelling wax melts, bath and body products, room sprays, fragrance oils and more…
I grew up with my family in the South West and then when I was age 9, we moved to Turkey. After losing my Grandfather suddenly, we returned to the UK when I was age 11 and it was hard to readjust and make friends easily at school. However, I was quite academic and conscientious at school, so I managed to do well in my GCSEs and A-levels, and I went on to college where I made some great friends and also met my partner, who I am still with today.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed in my studies and by the end of it I was burnout; so I made the choice not to go onto study at University and began work instead to help me pay the bills so I could move in with my boyfriend.
During this time, I was struggling with my mental health and my anxiety made it hard for me to be confident in myself and happy with my life. I feel into a 9-5 recruitment job, although I was paid well, I felt that it was contributing to making me feel miserable. I knew this wasn’t what I wanted long term. I initially started making wax melts as a hobby after struggling to find the scents I was looking for, but I began to really enjoy it and it wasn’t long before I began to imagine how I could make it a career for me. Making the transition wasn’t easy, I started doing longer days at my job with the goal to save money, which could be invested into the start of my business, which meant at one point I was doing 12-hour days at work, commuting 2 hours and then working on the wax melts when I got home. It wasn’t easy and colleagues at work would often ask me why I even bothered but I knew there was potential for this to work. One night I just had this moment of intuition – I call it my SPARK moment – I honestly knew from this moment that my own business was going to be a success. The night of the “spark” my mind was flowing with ideas – I was getting goosebumps all over and had an extremely strong intuitive sense of knowing. I was led in bed with thoughts spiralling of the potential of Sassy Shop Wax based on the current wax melts market and innovation. I couldn’t sleep with excitement.
From there it all just spiralled, it became a genuine interest of mine that made me feel creative and inspired. I worked in the day and came home in the evenings to work on the wax melts, saving all my money to invest straight back into building my own business. I knew there was potential for this to really work, so I really put my all in and by 2017, Sassy Shop Wax was established as a company. In December 2018 we hit a huge milestone when we sold out on our Facebook store within minutes of announcing – it was amazing. It wasn’t long after that when my partner, Theo, left his job to come to help me run the company, working as Operations Director.
I now have a strong team of 20 amazing people and we are now based in a 5,000 sqft commercial space in Bristol. My role as Founding Director goes between marketing, business development, new products, making wax melts, training staff, planning upcoming projects, social media and much more…. it’s been so rewarding to watch the company grow and I can’t wait to see what’s to come.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No! I grew up watching my parents have a very hard work ethic and they always inspired me to work hard and I always did – I did extremely well in my GCSE and A’Level exams but due to my mental health, I knew that university wasn’t for me. I’m very intuitive and have always tried to do what feels right – my initial recruitment role enabled me to see what I didn’t want, I didn’t want 9-5, I didn’t want to feel stuck… it ignited my passion and entrepreneurial spirit and enabled me to save up to launch Sassy Wax Shop.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Definitely. In the beginning I was working 12-hour days, commuting 2 hours a day to my job in recruitment and coming home to work on the wax melts for 2-3 hours every night. I look back and I honestly don’t know how I did it, but I’m so glad that I did. When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, this was a very magical moment that made me want the new business to succeed even more… initially, it was a challenge to keep going when I wasn’t seeing any results, that can really dampen your spirit… but I just knew it was going to work… and during my maternity leave, I concentrated all my energy into nurturing my baby and my business… and I started to reap the benefits and even had to rope in family members to help me around the kitchen table in order fulfil my orders!
Another struggle I faced was how hard it really was to grow a team when you have to lead. Making sure my team is happy is very high on my priority list and I underestimated the energy it takes transitioning from a small business do-it-all to building a great culture.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Hmm that is a difficult one…. I would say in terms of the business, moving into our new space in Bristol was pretty special… from the kitchen table to moving into a 5,000 sqft commercial space – this was a huge step for the business that I was really proud of. In terms of my personal life, I see it as a huge achievement what I have overcame mentally – I used to really struggle with anxiety and depression, as I know many people do and I would never have thought I would be where I am today – I am honest about my journey and day to day struggles and love the supportive Sassy community that we’ve built up – empowering and supporting each other. I want to continue to make a positive impact by opening up the conversation about mental health wherever I can. If I can help just one person realise that their feelings are valid and normal then I will – there is so much value in being honest about your mental health and I want Sassy Wax Shop to take pride in caring about that.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
My own intuition – if it wasn’t for that SPARK moment, I probably would have given in before we boomed as a business. That vision kept me ignited to follow the dream during the tough days.
Also, cliché as it may sound, surrounding myself with people who uplift and support me, and also being that person for others as well. I think it is so important to talk about your feelings, hopes and dreams with people you love so that they can look out for you, push you and inspire you.
We have also been really successful in nurturing a healthy social media follow which has obviously really helped the business to grow; being endorsed by celebs such as; Gemma Collins as well as being stocked in retailers such as Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing and I Saw It First has also been a huge achievement.
I think what makes it work so well is the genuine passion myself and the whole team have, as this started out as a hobby it just feels very authentic and true to me and I think the success of the business lies within that.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Mentoring and being mentored is crucially important to me. I openly share my journey as a young business owner and Mum, I love to offer advice I have to young people or young Mums who want to start their own business. I also mentor and guide and support my employees with whatever they need to reach their own goals whilst working with me.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
I still sometimes find it hard to believe in myself and trust in what I have already accomplished, this is common for a lot of women – imposter syndrome is real! Unfortunately, we still live in a world where women aren’t always taken as seriously as men so if I could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for gender party, it would probably be to improve female confidence to believe in our achievements, to see our worth and to speak up and stand up as we continue to change the world step by step…
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
I would tell myself not be so hard on myself and that it is important to find a happy balance between working hard and letting life work its magic.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
There are so many plans in the works for Sassy Shop Wax that I can’t wait to work on! At the moment, we are still working on developing new scents, growing the social media and I would love to do more collaborations with brands and celebrities.
In terms of achievements, I would love to continue Sassy Shop Wax’s support for charities and any local organisations. Everyone has been so great from customers, my fantastic staff and family have been so supportive so I’d love to give back in any way that I can.
Find out more about Sassy Shop Wax below:
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