Spotlight: Plaristo of Rye
Each month we interview 2 members for our blog to showcase the variety of businesses that support our Chamber Of Commerce. In this interview, we speak to a long-standing, Plaristo of Rye.
1. Thanks for talking to us! How would you describe your business?
We are a candle maker, supplier and shop.
2. When was your business founded?
We’re a family business founded In 2011 – Nick and Silvia Shinn.
Silvia from Plaristo of Rye.
3. What's your background and how did it lead you to this business?
We worked with the international organisation Camphill for 38 years. Camphill have 23 communities in England and Wales which offer opportunities for people with learning disabilities mental health problems and other special needs to live, learn and work. The culture of Camphill includes a strong emphasis on artistic and cultural themes, so, during our time living in and working with these communities, we experienced lots of different crafts and skills from woodworking and pottery to weaving and candle making.
It was a complete way of life for such a long time, but we eventually decided that we needed a change. Our daughter decided she wanted to open a shop near the sea and so we began to research where that might be.
We had no previous connection with Rye, we literally drove along the whole coast but when we got to Rye we instantly fell in love. We just knew this was where we wanted to be, and that’s how Plaristo began.
Our first shop was in The Mint in Rye.
We had a lot of retail experience from our time with Camphill and at first, we tried lots of different crafts from knitting and weaving but eventually, it became clear that candles were our strongest product so that is the direction we’ve gone in and we’ve never regretted it.
4. What makes your business unique?
Colour and environmental responsibility. We focus on our candles being ethically produced, as natural as possible and of the very best quality. And you only have to look around the shop to know how much colour matters to us!
5. What are your business values?
People and planet! We have always been conscious of the purity of our products – we’ve worked hard on our environmental responsibility to ensure they are non-toxic – to humans and to pets, and to the planet too.
We’re also conscious that with many things in life – if a product is good it can easily become over-commercialised and then suddenly it is no longer of value. It’s a tricky balance to grow your business but remain true to your values so that your products remain at the highest quality and therefore trusted, so your customers remain loyal.
6. What are your plans for your business in 2023 – what are you focusing on?
We have a very good relationship with a company in Germany who make a great deal of the candles we sell, but because of Brexit and the growth in demand we’ve seen for our dinner candles, we are now making our own candles on a small scale right here in our shop on the Atlas Industrial Estate, Rye Harbour.
7. What are the challenges your business faces this year?
At the moment, rising energy bills are of course an issue. We’re also conscious of getting older – it’s been just the two of us running the business since lockdown, our daughter still does all the admin for us but her creativity is now channelled into raising our grandchildren! We’re every bit as enthusiastic about our business as we were at the start though.
8. What are you most proud of in your business?
Sometimes it feels like you’re so close to your business you tend to focus on the mistakes – but when we take a step back - we are truly proud of our products – both the quality of what we make and people’s response to our products too. Having good customer relationships is something we’re proud of too – it’s a two-way street.
9. If there was one piece of advice you wish you’d had been given when you opened your business what would it be?
Don’t do trade shows! We did so many they nearly killed us! They are a really big financial investment for not much return. Find other ways to reach your customers!
10. The biggest change you’ve seen in your business or your business sector since you started?
Brexit knocked us sideways – because we depended on importing everything from Germany so suddenly everything became a lot more complicated and so much more expensive. It was very limiting. But we’ve turned that challenge into an opportunity by making our own candles and finding a new route to business.