ACORNS alumni Fiona Young established Milis from her kitchen table to create a limited range of candles that were vegan, sustainably sourced and carbon-free.
We talk to rural women entrepreneurs from across Ireland who recently took part in the ACORNS programme.
Women in rural Ireland with new businesses or at least with well-developed ideas are being invited to join next phase of the programme ACORNS 8. The ACORNS programme is designed to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland through a peer learning approach. Thanks to the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the voluntary contribution of time by Lead Entrepreneurs, there is no charge for those selected to participate.
“ACORNS taught me how to take an objective view of the business’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as helping me to connect with female entrepreneurs from a range of industries and backgrounds”
The call is now open for applicants for ACORNS 8 and 50 female entrepreneurs from across the country will be selected to participate. Anyone interested in receiving an application form ahead of the midnight 23 September deadline for ACORNS 8 should register their interest here
It wasn’t until Fiona Young started investigating the process of candle making that she realised just how much toxic material is in a standard scented candle.
From paraffin wax to synthetic fragrance oils, Fiona knew from her 20-year career as an oncology nurse the dangers these products posed to people’s health and moved to create a limited range of candles that were vegan, sustainably sourced and carbon free. The success of that experiment inspired her to set up her own company, Milis, in March 2020.
The launch of Milis may have coincided with retail closures in response to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland, but Fiona believes the increased time that house-bound consumers spent on social media and shopping online actually boosted sales in the early days.
Having started the business from her kitchen, Fiona recently completed work on her own candle-making workshop at her home in Dunmore East, Co. Waterford. It is the biggest investment she has made in the business to date and stands as something of a monument to its progress over the past two years.
Milis products bear the Guaranteed Irish mark and are now on sale in counties across Munster, Connacht and Leinster, while Fiona directly services orders received through the company website.
“ACORNS taught me how to take an objective view of the business’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as helping me to connect with female entrepreneurs from a range of industries and backgrounds.”
Recently she has been working to create a themed candle as part of a Waterford Local Radio competition in which listeners suggest scents that are synonymous with Waterford.
“The result is Farraige, a sea-scented candle that also contains notes of gorse flower. The candle will be available to buy online in the coming weeks,” she says.