Selling whilst studying- 1st year NBS student Owen is already a business owner



My name is Owen Richardson and i am a first year student at NBS, born and raised in Costessey, Norwich. Not exactly known for entrepreneurship. However due to TV it brought it straight to my door.

I’m keen, well driven and motivated person, which I believed helped a lot with my start up. I have done work experience in, Investment Banking at Klienwort Benson, accounting at Start-rite, and experienced the work environment at KBR international. In the future, I hope to pursue business or banking. To help with this, I try to grab as much experience as possible along the way, joining the Entrepreneur and Business societies, along with the Chinese society. I chose UEA due to its good links with business, along with its renowned business school with an impressive student ranking.


I own a small candle manufacturing business called ‘MyCandles’. The candles are on sale in local gardening centres and at the East of England Co-op. I got the idea watching ‘The Apprentice’. I saw that they were making candles out of a factory no bigger than my kitchen and then selling them on the street corner at an insane markup. This is where I got the idea, and I thought, “I can do that!”

From there, I did my homework, found my market, conducted market research, and designed and produced the product. I was only half way there, however. I needed sales. I went door to door to all my local garden centres and “SUCCESS!” I got my first order, for 36 candles! I was thrilled. I got a few more sales and went to a few craft fairs, but that wasn’t enough, and I wanted more. Then I thought big, I went directly to the top. E-mailing large retail companies and going through with numerous phone conversations. The same issue kept appearing though. My capacity to cope with increasing orders meant that the sales fell through.


I finally cracked the code with the East of England Co-op, getting my foot in the door. They support small local suppliers, and it turned out I was exactly one of those. Their philosophy is “why order from halfway around the world, when we have great products at our own door?” So I went down to their headquarters in Ipswich to negotiate a sales agreement with Mark Ashton and Steve Pawlak. From that meeting I left with an initial ‘test’ order of 1904 candles. I was blown away, never had I ever expected such a large volume, for my first real order. At that moment I knew exactly what direction I wanted to head in.

Since my first order in November 2015, I have received a further order for summer. Now I want to take it a next step further and go into e-commerce, and I hope that my adventure at NBS will give me the knowledge, teach me the skills, and put me in contact with the right people.


What this has taught me is that it doesn’t matter where you born, studied, or live. Everyone has the chance in business, and everyone has an opportunity to be whatever they want to be. The key is that you get up and you go for it. Each person has had dreams, but the difference is that not everyone is willing to try and fail. That fear of failure will single handedly hold you back more than anything else. So next time you have an idea, take the courage and give it a go, you may fail, however, its having the valour and persistence to run with an idea when you have one which creates true masters of the universe.

I have to thank ‘The Apprentice’ for the inspiration, Steve Pawlak at the ‘East of England’ for giving me the chance and Mark Ashton of ‘Ashton Marketing Services’ for believing me.

With thanks to Owen Richardson  for contributing to the NBS Blog.



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