Sun. Jul 3rd, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

VECTIS VIEW: Kathy Chillistone, co-founder of ChilliWinter in Cowes

3 min read

Oh, my goodness, we keep pinching ourselves! Our garden-studio business ChilliWinter has been crowned winning brand of the Gift of The Year Awards for ‘Beauty, Beauty and Spa’.

Last month, we went to the prestigious, national awards hosted by the Giftware Association. We were given the nod for our Remedial Aromatherapy Candle Collection, also receiving ‘Highly Commended’ in the Home Fragrance category. Our ‘Little Box of Mindful Moments’ was handed a ‘Highly Commended’ award for ‘My Gift of All Time’.

Think red-carpets, bright lights, lots of PR, and liaison with existing and new stockists. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since! Getting recognition from over 70+ industry-leading experts for our high quality, eco-conscious, wellbeing collection – it’s a big ‘wow’ moment for us. Self-care products are important and relevant to us all in today’s fast-paced world.

Alongside multi-million pound businesses at the awards-ceremony, there was recognition for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and artisan-makers. Independents like us, who are values-led, and together changing the face of retail. How? By inspiring the shift in attitude and lifestyle towards zero waste, sustainable sourcing, collaboration, and conscious consumption. We aren’t experts in these areas, yet we are committed to learning and making small, impactful changes at home and in business.

I’m an experienced, qualified aromatherapist, with a 25+ year HR career, specialising in wellbeing and mental health. Dave is a full-time key worker, who enjoys silversmithing in his spare time, selling his handmade designs as part of the ChilliWinter brand. Trying to grow during Covid times was challenging, having just started out. We’re proud that ChilliWinter raised £4,000 for Mountbatten Isle of Wight, and £1,000 for Hospice UK in this time.

Small business collaboration is another way of mobilising our brand, with many Island stockists and partners. Island Refillery (Sea Room, Bembridge) is a good example, with a product designed with zero waste, shared marketing and distribution. Connecting like this also forges friendships along the way!

Competition is tough – supermarkets and online warehouse retailers buy bulk factory-made products, and lever economies of scale, but small businesses contribute over £1 trillion to the UK economy annually. This summer we are participating in a national campaign to encourage shopping locally, with small independent businesses. With every £1 spent here on the Isle of Wight, £0.63 of it stays here in our community. When customers choose their gifts and treats with local businesses, this makes good economic and environmental sense.

We’re passionate about small business entrepreneurship, and encouraging our community to vote with their money, not for the multi-million pound businesses (who will be just fine). We are asking our community to spend during these difficult economic times, with the small, independent Isle of Wight businesses – there’s plenty of choice, helping one another not just survive, but thrive!

We’ve done our best to freeze our prices for the last two years, and grow our offer during this time, giving flexible, personal customer service. We do what we can to go the extra mile and our customers do notice and appreciate this.

We really appreciate the support from our customers, and other independent businesses, who know what it’s like to run a small business. Mostly, we are proud to be Islanders, living and working here, helping to strengthen our economy and community.

Find out more about ChilliWinter by visiting us at all the main Island events this summer! If you’re one of the first customers each day, you’ll also receive a free candle – what’s not to like?