The First Day

Are you thinking about starting your own business? Are you feeling a bit scared? We were too. Don’t know if it’s going to work. Nor did we. Don’t have enough money to start? Snap! Today I’m going to begin a regular series of posts tracing some significant moments in valentte’s history.

It’s been eight years since Justina started Valentte. We were a couple back then and lived in a shared house in London. We were crammed into a tiny bedroom with everything we owned stacked up around us. We had no money, no experience and certainly no idea how to make skincare or home fragrance.

We lived hand-to-mouth with no savings, no credit cards and no ability to borrow. Justina worked two jobs, H&M selling clothes and in a café as a barista. I had lost everything when my sandwich business went bust and was taking my first steps in the online world, building blogs — earning virtually no money.

She had always dreamed of starting a soap business. I encouraged her. She created some bath bombs at home on our kitchen table. She learned the process on YouTube. Bought the ingredients online and made her first batch. She was compulsive, obsessive and a perfectionist. Any tiny flaw resulted in the batch going in the bin. Each discarded batch was more money that we didn’t have wasted. We had no luxuries and chose to invest in the business over everything else.

She persevered and eventually had a few finished items that she decided were ready for sale. We visited the Greenwich market and nervously asked for a pitch. They agreed and let us trade a trial on Tuesday. The cost was £10. It felt like a fortune. On top of which they had given us a long list of requirements for dressing our stand, fabric, lights, point-of-sale etc. It had to look professional, or we wouldn’t be allowed back.

We scraped the money together, bought the stuff, mostly from Ikea and off she went that first day. She crossed London, on the bus and tube, carrying the stock and equipment in big, heavy blue Ikea bags over her shoulders.

I will never forget the moment midmorning when my phone rang, and she had made her first sale of £4 for a bath bomb. I have never felt such joy. I cried. I was so happy for her. It was her only sale that day. But it didn’t matter. She had started, and our journey had begun.

We had no idea where Valentte would take us, or what the future would hold. But we always believed and that’s my message to you too. If you have a dream to start something, then you must do it. Don’t wait for life or your situation to be perfect.

You will never have enough money, knowledge or whatever else you think you need. You must be brave and take the leap. When you get to the edge, your brain is always going to tell you to step back. But I say to you just jump! Long before others believe, you must believe it’s possible. Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

Hi, I'm Luke Bream, the author of this blog, and one of the co-founders of Valentte. Thanks for taking the time to read about our journey.

We are small business based in Nantwich on an old dairy farm. We make affordable, luxurious home fragrance and natural skincare. It smells amazing, works like a treat and comes beautifully wrapped.

Would you like to try our range for free?

If you subscribe to our email newsletter, we will send you a voucher for a free candle. Saving you £20. The candles are 100% natural and scented with pure essential oils.

Choosing the perfect present can be hard, but it doesn’t have to break the bank!

Valentte make affordable, luxurious home fragrance and natural skincare. It smells amazing, works like a treat and comes beautifully wrapped.

24 thoughts on “The First Day”

  1. I’ve just put my phone on and received your Monday morning email – a great way to start the day. I love your emails. They are so uplifting. And I look forward to them. They always make me think and also remind me that I am doing ok.

    For those who are thinking of starting their own businesses the programmes in the BBC series The Disrupters (with Kamal Ahmed and Rohan Silva) are really interesting. The interviewees started with little too.

    I’ve got the day off, it’s a beautiful day so I am going to make use of it!

    Thank you for spurring me on!

    • HI Liz
      Thanks for your kind words about our email. I always get very nervous when I hit send, hoping that it will resonate with you. Thanks for the tip about “The Disrupters” I’m going to have a look, it sounds like my kind of show.
      Best Regards

  2. I always enjoy your words and often find they resonate so much for me. Thank you for continuing to inspire many people as I’m sure you do with these blogs.

  3. Luke. Thank you for sharing as always. I would wholeheartedly agree with the message in this blog. You’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t take a step. Luke’s “The Two Minute Habit” blog can help. All the best. Lucy

  4. Greenwich Market is where I bought my first Valentte product – if I remember, it was a Shea Butter Lemongrass & Rosemary hand cream. I just loved it! Not living in London, I did not see your products again until the Hampton Court Flower show last year and I chatted with you about my first purchase. I bought more that day and have since bought on line! I’m so glad you had the courage to get started!

  5. Such a Lovely story Luke , and I love your products soo much all my clients love it when I havecyr candles alite, you both have done amazingly, I say the same to everyone just go for it you never know until you take that leap , I’m always leaping I just get stuck in marketing my business and then it all falls down but I’m still trying ,
    Hope to see you at ideal home show ? keep going

    • Hi Julie
      Thanks for sharing your story and for being so lovely about our range. I have been reading a blog that may help your marketing that I would recommend. It’s called The Story of Telling – “You can’t change a mind without winning a heart.” Bernadette writes beautifully about how you can use stories to sell yourself and your business.
      Best Regards
      Luke x

  6. I’m not usually one to join in and comment or sometimes even read the emails from my favourite brands. However I had the urge to respond to your blog as I do now read & enjoy yours. You have a lovely engaging way with words which makes believe they come from the heart & they are not simply a marketing ploy.
    I’m now a big fan of your products and your blog – thank you for both 🙂

    • Hi Jayne
      Thank you. Your comment has made my day. I’m very nervous when I post a new item. I have always been in awe of those who write about their experiences and have never seen myself as having something worthwhile to say. Let alone having any ability to communicate it in a meaningful way. Your comments have given me a big boost. I really appreciate you sharing them. I have been very lucky through my life to work with and learn from some amazing teachers and I would like to be able to repay that debt by sharing what we are learning on our journey at Valentte. If I can help others as I have been helped then that would be a great blessing for me. Best regards
      Luke x

  7. A really, nice honest story about how you started. I want to hear how you went from producing bath bombs to the amazing candels and diffusers you sell today. How did you move from that market stand to where you are today? What was that point that you realised you had something that people would love.

    • Hi Katie
      Thank you for your lovely comment. I’m going to be doing more posts like this exploring the journey. The good and the bad! But to summarise we just kept going. I believe in failing forwards. With each failure or bad experience, we move one step closer to our goal.
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
      Luke x

  8. Hi Luke
    It’s early Friday morning and the first thing I’ve just read is your inspirational post about cycling. I have a team building session to run next week on motivation and have been racking my brain on my opening section. I think I have just found it. With your permission can I share? I think this is a perfect message about personal choices, resilience and achieveing a dream. Thank you for a brilliant start to my day.

    • Hi Caroline
      Yes, of course, you can. I feel deeply honoured that you feel the story is worth sharing. Thank you for the massive boost you have given me this morning. I hope your team building session goes well. I will be thinking about you. Best Regards and thanks for taking the time to share your story.
      Luke x

  9. Hi Luke

    You are truly inspirational, thank you. I have just started on my journey to recover the old me, I’ve finally given myself a kick up the backside and have taken charge of getting my 57 year old body back into shape. I’ve joined a great team of just a few people who are motivated by a great young man called Connor and in three weeks I’ve lost 3.5 pounds and 8 inches. I feel so much better both mentally and physically.

    We all need someone occasionally to inspire us all.

    Keep your stories going, I love reading them!

    Kind Regards

    • Hi Bev
      Thank you for your lovely positive message. I’m so pleased to hear that you are taking steps towards your goals. Well done. Keep it up, and remember to celebrate your journey each day. It’s your commitment to the daily process that sees the results come. best regards
      Luke x

  10. Hi thank you I am loving the emails . I send one every two weeks to our customers to give them well belng tips . We run groups to help people change their mindset .I recognise after reading yours mine are missing the personal aspect. I need you writing for us !!! I loved hearing your set up story . We are coming into our 4 th year and need to market more and build our audience . Going to get creative with next newsletter 😉 thanks again ps writing this with the lovely aroma of your candle ❤️

    • Hi Jo
      Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. They really help me. Good luck with your newsletter. You are doing the hardest part already which is sending one. Making it a little bit better each time is doable. One suggestion is to send your email weekly rather than bi-weekly, if you have enough time to create it that is. Send it at the same time and on the same day each week. Then recipients will get used to receiving it then. It’s also easier to manage a weekly “habit” than it is to manage a bi-weekly one. If you are interested in storytelling as a means of selling. I strongly recommend Bernadette Jiwa’s blog “The story of telling” and her book “The Right Story – a brief guide to changing the world”. Link is below
      Best of luck
      Luke x

  11. Hi Luke
    I’ve only just recently joined, and have just read about how you began… oh how I wish I had your guts.. my husband keeps saying to me about starting up my own business from home, and to think of something everybody would want.. but it’s sooo hard! We don’t have any spare cash to flutter away, which makes things tough, just like you guys in the beginning! A very inspirational read.. I shall put my thinking cap back on again! Well done for everything you have achieved

    • Hi Mel

      Thank you for your very kind words about our story. Thinking about what to do for a business can be a very daunting challenge. I understand how hard it is to develop an idea.

      Without knowing more about you and your experience I can’t give you any specific advice. But what I would say is not to try and think of a fully formed perfect bsuiess. This is virtually impossible.

      Its usually easier to think of something you could make or some activity that you can do that someone will pay you to do or perhaps something that you think could be done better. Using this small acorn of an idea then get started. Don’t worry about scaling it or whether it can actually be a big business. Just worry about answering the question of will someone pay money for this.

      Not just that they say they will but will they actually pay for it. Run a trial, build a prototype, do it on a tiny budget. Limit yourself to spend say £50. Make one item and then try and sell it. Dont worry if you make a profit from selling this first item. You are trying to answer the question of will someone but this.

      Look on sites like Etsy or Not on The High Street for ideas of things you could make and sell.

      Best Wishes & good luck. If you would like more specific advice feel free to ping me an email on



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