A COUPLE who swapped life in the global metropolis of Hong Kong to begin manufacturing candles in Cleator Moor are hoping to play their own part in the town’s regeneration. 

Jo Iles and James Long founded scented candle company Lakeland Lights five years ago in their kitchen and the business has now grown to have more than 50 stockists across Cumbria and beyond including, most recently, Booths supermarket. 

Jo, from Southport, and James, from Peterborough, met in London in 2005 while they were both working in recruitment, before moving to Hong Kong for nine years, where he ran his own HR company while Jo took up teaching.

Looking for a change to city life they moved to Iceland to live with James’ parents and consider their options. 

“When we were in Iceland, we came on holiday to the Lakes, and whilst we were here we were looking at gifts for my mum and we had this idea that it would be nice to capture the essence of these places like Buttermere or Honister in a candle,” said James.  

The idea took root to the point that when they moved back to the UK at the beginning of 2019 they decided to settle in West Cumbria and have a crack at starting their own scented candle business.

“We had a bit of time on our hands and the chance to trial things and so we put together some candles in the kitchen at home and the idea was born,” said James. 

They sold 60 candles to their first stockist in spring 2019 and soon moved from their kitchen table to the Phoenix Enterprise Centre, in Cleator Moor, where they now occupy offices, storerooms and a manufacturing unit.  

From the start they have been focused on making Lakeland Lights a long-term, full-time business and are also determined to bring jobs and vibrancy to Cleator Moor, complementing developments such as £25m investment in the town as part of the Town Deal and the establishment of the new Industrial Solutions Hub at Leconfield Industrial Estate. 

“We thought that we could do something different here,” said Jo. “We can bring some manufacturing back to this part of the world in a different way. Maybe give some opportunities to people who may otherwise work in Sellafield or get bussed into the Lakes to work in hospitality.” 

“We can see a vision for this business that isn’t just about the bottom line,” added James.