Living by my hands: a blog

Since 2001 I have made a living by my hands. However for much of that time I've felt like I work for my business, rather than the other way around. This blog is about my personal journey towards making a life (rather than a living) by my hands; about creating balance & time; about living locally; and exploring sustainable living on our little patch of earth.

5 Insider Tips for Successfully Wholesaling Your Handmade Products

I started my business with great passion and a big dose of optimism, but absolutely no relevant experience.  I knew next to nothing about the gifts & homewares industry.  I had never worked in a retail store.  Terms like ‘merchandising’ and ‘PoS’ meant absolutely nothing to me.  Looking back, I realise that a lot of… Read more »

A Little Light 2.0 – We’re back!

The 8 months since the electrical fire that destroyed our workshop haven’t been easy; I won’t pretend otherwise.  The times when everything was out of our hands, and we were trapped in months and months of bureaucracy were some of the most frustrating periods.  I think the sense of helplessness was the hardest to bear. … Read more »

Find handmade gifts for all occasions

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of our new Handmade Gifts collection. While our candles are still a couple of months away, I have teamed up with some of our best local makers & designers to recreate our little shop in Westgarth and bring it straight to the convenience of your laptop or smart phone…. Read more »

Tips for Time Management

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve made almost every mistake possible in running my small business. Sadly, I don’t feel destined to be the next billionaire entrepreneur. I’m an artist, not a business mogul. I run my business as an expression of my creativity, and as a way of creating the life that… Read more »

Make your small business idea happen now

One of the best things you can do for the future success of your business is to start trialing it now. A successful business requires not just a strong idea, but planning and research. While understanding your costs, margins and bottom line will be important in the long term, dipping your toe into the market… Read more »

More prizes to win, just tell us what you love!

A huge thank you to everyone who has pressed the ‘love’ button and shared their favourite products on Facebook.  I have been overwhelmed by the response, and I love hearing your feedback about your favourite colours and sizes, as well as styles. Oops, my mistake!  Unfortunately Facebook has outsmarted me, and due to the privacy… Read more »

Photo shoot with a professional photographer

With the prevalence of smart phones and DSLR cameras these days, it’s easy to think that anyone can take professional photos.  Instagram filters, free editing programs and the lovely thrill of having your posts ‘liked’ give us so much encouragement to think that there isn’t much difference anymore between ‘what I can do myself’ versus… Read more »

Tell us what you love (and win $200!)

I need your help.  As soon as the workshop is rebuilt, I want to get my hands straight back into what I love doing, and that’s making beautiful handmade candles. I won’t be able to make our entire range again straight away, so I need to know what you love, and what you most miss…. Read more »

Find A Little Light

To help you find our candles (that are rapidly disappearing from shelves), we are launching #findalittlelight ‪on Facebook and Instagram. While our online shop is currently unable to take orders, we have some wonderful stockists around Australia that you can visit or order from online.  It’s a good idea to call ahead to check what… Read more »

Moving forward to rebuild my business

After the heartbreaking destruction of our workshop, stock and production equipment in mid February, I am happy to report that the skies are brightening, and change is in the air.  We are working very hard to finalise the insurance process so that we can begin the process of rebuilding.  So far the insurance process hasn’t… Read more »

Electrical fire destroys our workshop

It is with great sadness that I have to report that our workshop, stock and production equipment were completely destroyed in an electrical fire late last week. No one was hurt, and I am so grateful to the fire fighters who worked so hard to protect the surrounding homes and buildings. While the next few… Read more »

Perfect recipe for a glut of cherry tomatoes

The end of summer glut of tomatoes is my favourite time of year as a gardener.  I discovered this recipe a few years ago, and I delight in being able to make it from our own garden from mid-late summer.  It’s easy, delicious, and perfect to share for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Tomato Tarte Tatin… Read more »

Fulfilling your own dreams, while supporting those of others

A big motivation in starting my own business was to find a job that fulfilled me, where I could pursue my passion for art and design, and make something beautiful and real.  In my previous jobs, I had always felt that I was simply selling my time, and waiting to live outside work hours.  I… Read more »

Testing growing techniques for Tomatoes & Cucumbers

In the absence of our yet-to-be-constructed veggie patch, we decided to do some veggie gardening on a smaller scale this year, and to be a bit more experimental. After reading an article online about a US gardener who had great success growing tomatoes by planting them around a half buried 50 gallon drum of water… Read more »

Growing an Australia-wide business

From humble beginnings in Mum’s kitchen, A Little Light (like many home based businesses) gradually grew to take over the shed, the spare bedroom, the hallway, and eventually the lounge and dining rooms. By 2008 it was time to give Mum and Dad back their house, and find a bigger space for what was rapidly… Read more »

Building from recycled materials

As home renovators, we had the rare experience this weekend of planning a project, and actually completing it within the allotted time. And even more satisfying, is that it was done almost entirely with recycled materials (with the exception of four pine sleepers and four metal pegs). We have found that once people know that… Read more »

A simple tool to keep balanced, inspired & enjoying your work

There is a magic that fills me when in the grip of a good idea. I lay awake half the night dreaming about all the possible permutations and opportunities it might lead to. I start each day with a spring in my step. I clearly see the actions I need to take to start making… Read more »

How word of mouth saved my business

In 2005 I was very close to walking away from my business. After some great growth in the first few years, the economy was changing, and I was feeling this acutely. I spent hour upon hour trying to get my products out there – to think outside the box, approach new stores and restaurants, and… Read more »

The Inspiration Behind A Little Light

In 2006, I was incredibly lucky to be featured alongside eighty Melbourne artists and designers in the first edition of the book Handmade in Melbourne. In this beautifully written and presented coffee table book, co-author Janet De Silva’s talent for creating images with words tells the story of the early days of my business far… Read more »

What type of wax do we use and why?

The candle making industry, like the health food industry, is dominated by rumours and pseudo-science, which are often only half understood, and then passed around as fact. Throughout the past 12 years I have made it my priority to understand the science behind the wax industry, and to sift through all the rumours to find… Read more »

Finding the Magic Formula For Small Business

When I started my business, I had a very clear vision: to create beautiful handmade candles that could become functional art pieces for the home, with their strong sculptural and textural style.           Here is a photo of one of my first market stalls at St Andrews Market in 2001.  … Read more »

The Giant Candle Project

Every so often I’m lucky enough to be part of something really exciting, a project beyond the normal scale of what I do. In 2003 I found myself saying yes to one such project, which lead to the making of the largest candles I have ever attempted. They were to mark the entrance for a… Read more »

Asphyxia – Artist, Writer & Activist

“I tried to be normal once. Worst two minutes of my life.”  An apt subtitle to her most recent painting, and a fitting description for this dynamic, bold woman.  I was lucky enough to meet Asphyxia when she wandered in to my shop one day and asked if we could do a skills swap, to… Read more »

Inside a candle making workshop

In February 2008 I signed the lease that gave my business a home for the next seven years.  I was rapidly growing out of my little shed at home, and boxes of candles filled the lounge room, dining room and hallways.  It was time to expand! This new location gave me a wonderful opportunity to… Read more »

Creating a new normal

I love big changes in life that give us the feeling of a blank slate – that wonderful prospect of being able to re-create our everyday life according to our new priorities and ideals. When I closed my shop in January 2015 and moved my workshop to home, I suddenly realised that I could re-shape… Read more »

Bree Melotte – Naturopathic Pampering & Healing

Born and bred in Daylesford, Victoria, naturopath Bree Melotte grew up surrounded by hippies and farmers. Those strong roots can be seen in her work, in her connection to the land and her drive to reach out and help others. I love Bree’s inspiration to use her training as a naturopath to create products that… Read more »

Solar powered business & home – getting off the grid

Last year we bought a little house; a yellow brick veneer complete with 60s wallpaper. And one year on it essentially looks the same inside. We’ve gotten to know it now, and we have big plans for this house. But rather than following our instincts to tear wallpaper off the walls and rip up the… Read more »

The pros and cons of following your passion

The pros and cons of running your own business are not to be under-estimated. For instance, the occasional sleep in or day off when you need it, coffee with friends who pop by, and the satisfaction of creating something that you are passionate about all weigh heavily on the ‘pro’ side. But when you find… Read more »