What started out as a hobby turned into a business for Ariana Yearly from Christchurch. The 37-year-old has made scented soy candles for herself for a number of years because she loves to burn them every night.

“I started giving them away as gifts; they were very well received so I started selling them about a year ago,” she says.

Ariana left full-time paid employment after her second child was born to pursue her business dream making candles. She runs the operation from home, which allows her to work at her own pace and balance this with the demands of her two young children. With her youngest starting school this year, Ariana says she now has more time to focus on her candles and the business.

“My goal is to grow this so I can earn a living from it and thus have the flexibility to fit work around my family and other interests.”

Her candles are all hand-poured, non-toxic and environmentally friendly. However, Ariana has enjoyed the opportunity to bring other skills to the table, like branding, labelling and costing. Although she sells the products via Facebook, it’s the candle parties and markets that Ariana loves the most as it gives her a chance to interact with the customers.

Her foray into candle-making marks a significant career change, and one that she hasn’t regretted. In the past, Ariana has worked as an English instructor in Japan, a course administrator at the University of Auckland, and as a road safety education coordinator at Auckland Transport for Auckland Council.

“I’ve enjoyed aspects of all previous jobs and learnt invaluable skills and knowledge, but having a family means you need flexibility. Financially, professionally and personally it needs to be rewarding to work full-time and raise a family. For me, I’ve had the luxury of not needing to work, so it’s been an opportunity for me to create something that fits in with our lifestyle.”

After working in Japan and Auckland, Ariana returned to Christchurch, where she had grown up. She attended high school in Avonside and graduated from Canterbury University with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and sociology.

“I haven’t gone on to use any of the specifics of my degree, but the roundedness of being tertiary qualified is invaluable. I learnt how to commit, research, study. I don’t think university is for everybody, but it worked as a great starting point for me. Looking back, it’s the whole experience rather than the specific information that is key.”

Upon returning to Christchurch, Ariana and her sister Aimee started a business together called Candles and Cream, in which Ariana does the candles and Aimee makes natural skin care and home products.

“It’s fun doing something together,” says Ariana. “I love working with my hands and indulging the senses. It’s very peaceful and uplifting making candles.”

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