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From A Dream To A Business

If you’re a lover of candles and all things craft then Siren Store is one to check out. We sat down with Holly, one half of the Siren Store duo, to chat all about starting an amazing girl boss business. Taking an idea from a piece of paper tacked on the fridge to a thriving start-up brand promoting sustainability and empowering women around the world.

How has it been trying to run Siren Store from opposite sides of the world?

It’s been crazy honestly. About 2 months ago we got this influx of followers overnight and the demand for candles suddenly became huge. We were like ‘oh my god how are we going to keep up?’ We started to put all these plans in place and had a system we were going to follow, then Han started a new job and ended up being let go due to Covid and had to move back to Australia. Before Han left she was the predominant candle maker and I stuck to illustration, but we had to completely rejig everything!

I had to learn how to make the candles, which are the most temperamental things in the world! They take so long! If you’ve ever worked with soy wax before you know just how temperamental vegetable waxes are, it’s a lot of trial and error! It’s been absolutely crazy. I’ve been doing about 80 hours a week with my full time job as well. It’s been so hectic but we’ve had so much positivity from people, so many comments reaffirming they love what we’re doing and that’s really getting us

What inspired you to set up Siren Store? 

“Han and I had just moved from London to Manchester after being in the UK for about 6 months. We were both in temporary jobs we just hated. We were going to work everyday and coming home so deflated and sad because we weren’t doing anything we were really interested in. So on this beautiful sunny day in Manchester (which is so rare) we went to the park with a pen and paper and wrote a list of what inspires us, what we’re passionate about, what we love and how we can turn that into something we want to do everyday! We wanted to have a sustainable impact and make sustainability more accessible. We wrote this big list, went home and stuck it on the fridge and looked at it everyday and started talking about it more and more.

One day we decided to consult our tarot decks. We wanted some guidance to see if this was something that would be sustainable for us. The crazy thing was that when we both consulted our cards we drew an almost identical spread. When we both turned over our last card, which represents the future, we both landed on the World which is a beautiful reaffirming card that encapsulates your goals achieved. Out of all the cards we drew the same one. The second reaffirming thing was we were in the shower together, as roommates do, and we were sitting there trying to think of names for this new brand. We both love mythology and we were on a bit of a feminist, empowerment kick at the time, so we thought Sirens; beautiful, magical creatures who draw in men with their gorgeous voices and then kill them! We then scaled it back and thought what can we do now and what can we afford to do now. We settled on illustrations and candles.”

So, what have you got planned next?

“We’ve done a lot of commissioned cards. If people have a meme that reminds them of someone they love we will draw it for them. A lot of custom stuff and a lot of candles. We have a few exciting projects happening in the background, one which I will exclusively announce here. Right now our candles are this gorgeous, unattainable model figure. However, we have now commissioned a sculpture to create a range of inclusive body shape candles! We are going to have some gorgeous full figures and not-so-full figures – a range of inclusive bodies more people will relate to.”

Where did you get your inspiration for Siren Store?

“I went to film school and Han did creative industries. We’ve both always been interested in art and design. Also moving to the UK bought out a spiritual awaken for us both and we got really into mythology and history. Going into illustration first for me was just a no brainer because it’s something I could do and cards were something we could afford to do. That’s a really big thing if you want to start your own business, it can be so expensive and getting the capital for it can be hard, even trying to navigate loans, which we haven’t done yet. We wanted to do something that was practical and easy for us with our skills sets. This was the motivation and inspiration, we’re huge feminists and we love the divine feminine. We wanted to involve women and local artists in the grand plan and create a community space for people.” 

When did you start Siren Store?

“The idea started in summer 2018 and we launched last year in February 2019. We now have a gorgeous little community who have started to join us.”

How did you choose the colour palette for your candles? 

“We actually just went to our colour stockist and chose a random handful. We wanted to experiment with mixing and we love earthy and nude tones. We know from doing markets before people love the bright colours and the lilacs and blues, so we try to cater to everyone. Because we are so new we can only do small batches but are trying to create as many colours and candles as we can at the moment.”

What are you most proud of this year so far? 

“There have been a lot of obstacles this year we had to go through. Aside from Siren Store, Han and I are joined at the hip; we have invested everything in each other and the UK and now having had that ripped out from underneath us in less than 3 days has been really hard. Navigating Siren Store in the middle of that, with a surge of followers, has been mad but it’s definitely something we are super proud of!”

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in lockdown? 

“I was talking to my mum about this and we were trying to look at the positives and what we can take away from everything, we decided it really is a reassessment of your life – what’s important to you and what makes you truly happy. It’s about finding ways to incorporate these things into your life more. For me, lockdown has reaffirmed this is what I want to be doing everyday, family is important and it’s hard being so far away from people at this time. I’m lucky to live with friends and to have my family easily available on the phone, some people aren’t that lucky. I’ve been really grateful for everything.”  

Where do you hope to be this time next year? 

“Oh boy, if you had asked me that 2 months ago I think I would’ve had some kind of idea. At this stage, Han is planning on coming back in September next year which is still over a year away. At the moment we are aiming to be reunited then, whatever country that is going to be in, and to hopefully be doing this full time!”

How do you balance a full-time job and starting your own business?

“It’s hard because we’ve not had to navigate going physically into work and owning a business yet, we’ve only had to manage it working from home full time. At the moment it’s hard. I’m putting in hours every night. I finish my job at 6pm and do Siren until 12pm, then call Han for an hour so we can go over work things. I’m a bit scared of having to physically go back into work. Fortunately, we’ve ordered all the candle stuff for Han to make them in Australia as well. It’s been a bit slow arriving because of everything that is going on but we’re hoping in about 3 weeks we’ll have double the amount, if not more, candles available!”

Quick-Fire Questions!

What has been your favourite quarantine snack? 

“Honestly, wine. I’ve had so much wine over quarantine!”

What have you been watching recently?

“I’m really lucky because I work for a foreign drama channel full time so my job is to proof subtitles. I get to watch a lot of shows before they get released and I watch a lot of foreign dramas which is great. But I did binge all of Normal People in a night.”

What have you been listening to recently? 
“It changes everyday. I think if I was to go on my top artist at the moment it would be Clairo and King Princess. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts as well. I’ve been relistening to Rewilding by Ella Grace Denton and The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Francis White which is just amazing if you haven’t listen to that it’s brilliant.”

Most unusual quarantine purchase?

“Off the top of my head, I don’t think I’ve bought anything too weird, but I did get this spontaneous desire to dye my hair. So I have invested a lot in random hair strengthening products because the last time I dyed my hair all my hair broke and I ended up with a mullet!” 

Are you a silver or a gold girl? 

“So the story behind this is, when I was about 12 my mum took me to see this lady in her garage and she told me what colours I suited. She told me at the time that I didn’t suit gold at all, so for about 15 years I never wore gold. I had my gold moment about a year ago when I bought my septum ring and since then I have been obsessed!”

Earrings or rings?

“Oh my gosh, both? I do love my rings but I have to say both.”

Normally – are you a dinner out or take-away kind of girl? 

“I’m definitely a dinner out girl. This is Han and I’s biggest conflict because she’s a Taurus rising and I’m a Sagittarius rising so I want to go out but she wants to take it home and set the mood. I’d say dinner out for sure!”

If you want to get your hands on gorgeous candles or illustrations be sure to check out @sirenstoreuk on Instagram and their Etsy page here. Also find Holly on her personal Instagram account @markcorrigan