Legend has it that Sir Gary Verity, sheep farmer, businessman and chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, came up with the idea of bringing the Tour de France to Yorkshire at the bathroom mirror one morning while he was shaving.
It was just what the region needed, he reckoned. You see, Verity had detected some chippy attitudes on returning to his native Yorkshire from a long career stretch in London. “There was a chip on our shoulder about Manchester,” he told The Guardian. “You know, ‘Manchester can do this’ or ‘Manchester have got that.’ That never used to be the case.”
Fast forward five years from his lightbulb moment to 2014 and the Grand Depart took place in Leeds. In 2018, 2.6 million spectators lined the route of the legacy event Tour de Yorkshire and in 2017 - the most recent year for which statistics are available - it generated an astonishing £64 million in revenue and showed the very best of Yorkshire off to the world.
Impressive, eh? And it just shows what a bit of Yorkshire grit and determination can do.
I like to think that my own lightbulb moment for The Little Yorkshire Candle Company happened in front of the mirror, too - but it was a hairdresser’s mirror while I was having my roots done. It was early days in the business and I’d been umming and ahhing about packaging for a while, but hadn’t been able to find the right artist or designer to help. Someone in the salon suggested Sarah Relf from The Magpie’s Cabinet in York, and that single recommendation kickstarted my own personal Yorkshire Collective.
You see, despite calling my brand The Little Yorkshire Candle Company and creating fragrances inspired by my beloved native county, I’d been making a rookie error: missing the potential collaborators and freelancers ‘under my nose’, so to speak. Yorkshire is packed full of creative, entrepreneurial types - I think it’s in our genetic makeup - and when I met Sarah, she instantly ‘got’ it. We bonded over Pinterest boards and colour schemes and the rest, as they say, is history.
Next on the list was getting The Yorkshire Prose on board, dialect poet Ben Taylor. I’d admired his work for a while when I suddenly thought - well, why not? God loves a trier, and a couple of cheeky emails later I had my own bespoke TLYCC verse - ‘If thas ad a tough day/And come ooam in a tangle/Let ya sen drift away/Wi a Little Yorkshire Candle’ - now printed on every gift box along with Sarah’s stunning illustrations.
Since then, I’ve made Yorkshire my first port of call when looking for collaborators. My amazing photographers, Olivia Brabbs and Hannah Webster, can always be relied upon make the candles - and me! - look fabulous, and Mercury Printers in Leeds are amongst the best: friendly, efficient and utterly reliable. Skye-create do a fabulous job of keeping my website on point and the most recent addition to the team is Laura at Strike the Match who takes care of my copywriting and editing.
If it was possible to do everything in Yorkshire, I would. I get such a thrill from visiting my stockists - mainly small business owners, all doing their own, gorgeous, independent thing - from Love Thy Interiors in Thirsk and York, to Grandad’s Shed in Pocklington, to Kemps in Malton - and I love supporting small businesses. For me, they’re more than trendy hashtags - #shopsmall and #shoplocal is a way of life. It’s about uncovering something unique, something truly special that someone has poured - quite literally, with a hand-poured candle! - their time and energies into, as well as their heart and hopes. And I don’t think you can shop small better anywhere else than in Yorkshire.
Looking for the perfect gift for a Yorkshire creative? You’re in the right place. Try our CREATE candle: a rock ‘n’ roll blend of bitter orange, Persian lime, lemon, bergamot, lemongrass, litsea cubeba, petitgrain, spearmint and peppermint. CREATE summons memories of long nights and Call Lane cocktails. Its scent is uplifting, pure and vibrant - just what a creative needs!
Leeds Corn Exchange : Credit Photographer Hannah Webster

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