ROBERT BARRON CITIZEN
Jacqueline Bergstrom and Christina Hanson never imagined how successful their fledgling soap and candle-making business would be when it began it last year.
The sisters started Backwoods Soap & Candle Co. when they realized there was an active and growing demand for their hand-crafted products in the region.
Their home-based business and its products are proving to be so popular that the enterprising and dynamic duo have been chosen as finalists in the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award category at the Duncan/Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s 20th annual Black Tie Awards, to be held on April 9.
“We never expected to get to this stage in our business so fast, and I certainly never would have believed that I’d be a finalist in any business awards,” said Bergstrom, who also currently runs a daycare centre from her home
“We have a five to 10-year goal to open a storefront and host classes. But every time we establish some longterm goals, we tend to accomplish them within six months.”
The idea for the business began after Bergstrom took a soap-making class in 2013 and developed her own soaps. They quickly became popular with family and friends.
She said she decided to attend some local craft fairs and ran out of soap and hand-made candles, which she also added to her product list, within just a few hours of setting up.
“It was just crazy,” Bergstrom said.
“It was then that some business owners approached me to ask if I wanted to supply them with candles and soap to sell in their stores.”
Bergstrom said Hanson, who is the executive assistant in a local office of Investors Group, began learning the ropes of the business in an effort to assist with her sister’s growing demand for products.
Together, they work evenings and weekends from studios in both of their homes making candles and soap products.
Hanson said a part of their secret to success is that they use soy wax to make their candles, which is considered “clean burning and natural.”
She said the soaps are all made out of plant-based essential oils.
“I intend to take a nine-month clinical aromatherapist course to learn the benefits of essential oils and how to use them properly,” Bergstrom said.
“It’s a great business and we’ve been having lots of fun so far. I also really enjoy working with my sister. Her weaknesses are my strengths and vice-versa. We complete each other.”