A busy working mum from Fife is championing this year’s Small Business Saturday in the Kingdom.
Candle maker Jo MacFarlane from Anstruther is one of 12 small business heroes across the UK tasked with the job; Jo is the only one in Scotland.
And this hero has little doubt of how much Small Business Saturday has helped her business, which she started seven years ago at her kitchen table.
Jo (49) had worked as a British Airways long haul air stewardess for many years.
But when she and her husband, physiotherapist Stuart Barton, had their son Archie eleven years ago, Jo decided she wanted to spend more time at home.
As well as looking after their son, Jo wanted to find a new role to keep her mind and hands occupied.
Seven years ago, at the kitchen table in her home, she started making candles – and she hasn’t stopped since.
Jo now makes signature scents for top-class hotels, including the Fairmont in St Andrews, Balbirnie House in Markinch, Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club in Edinburgh, the Pullman London St Pancras and Novotel London Canary Wharf.
She also regularly runs workshops, teaching other people the art of candle making; in just a few hours, they leave having made their own quality scented candle.
While running her own business and looking after Archie leaves Jo little spare time, she jumped at the chance of becoming a Small Business Saturday hero.
Explaining why, she said: “Three years ago when I was still working at my own kitchen table, I applied to become part of the Small Business 100.
“That gave me a platform on social media and in the national and local press, which was fantastic.
“It also gave me the chance to set up a stand in 10 Downing Streeet, which was an amazing opportunity.
“So when they asked me this year if I’d like to be one of their heroes, I was more than happy to do so.
“Being part of the larger Small Business Saturday network has been incredible.
“It’s amazing what you can do as a small business to be part of a bigger picture.
“Sometimes when you’re working on your own, you can feel a bit lost and swamped – it’s hard at times.
“But the Small Business Saturday network helps to raise the profile of small makers like me and you feel part of something.”
Two years ago, Jo set up her own studio in Murray Studios in Anstruther which enabled her to expand the business and offer workshops.
She is also training other people who, like her, want to set up their own business from their kitchen table.
Jo recently won an award from Surfers Against Sewage for reducing her use of single use plastics.
And she offers a fill it up Friday where people can pop in with their empty candle containers for a top-up.
She said: “I have always been environmentally minded so I’m doing all I can to safeguard against using plastics in my products and reusing where possible.”
That includes using old teacups and the like as candle holders.
However, Jo’s mission right now is to raise as much awareness of Small Business Saturday as she can.
She is keen for as many small businesses as possible to take part and has already signed up several in her home town.
But Jo hopes many others across the Kingdom will join in on December 7 too.
She added: “It’s a great way for small business owners to showcase what they do, simply by offering a small promotion on the day.
“I want as many small businesses as possible to benefit from the movement as I have. It’s been incredible for my business.
“I hope businesses in Fife will take the opportunity to sign up and get involved.”
To find out more or register, visit www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com.
Movement founded by American Express
A grassroots, not-for-profit campaign, Small Business Saturday was originally founded by American Express in the United States in 2010.
American Express remains the principal supporter of the campaign in the UK, as part of its on-going commitment to encourage consumers to shop small. It also benefits from the backing of leading business organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses, Indeed and Dell and is supported by Amazon, printed.com, Square and Xero.
It takes place on the first Saturday in December each year but aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses.
On Small Business Saturday, customers across the UK are invited to support all types of small businesses – online, in offices and in stores. Many small businesses take part in the day by hosting events and offering discounts.
Small Business Saturday 2018 brought in record figures, with £812 million spent in small businesses across the UK on the day. The Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mayor of London were among those publicly supporting the campaign, alongside more than 90 per cent of local councils.
Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday, said: “Each year the campaign has grown in support from government, business and communities alike.
“We can’t wait for December to come round and put small businesses in the spotlight.
“Small businesses are the heart of their communities with 5.6 million keeping their economies moving, providing jobs and unique services.
“But it’s not just a campaign for one day – it is a year-round celebration.
“We want to ensure the long-term success of our high street heroes and digital stars.”