Interview with Cheryl aka Bubba – owner, creator and head melter
Interview by Jessica Plumb
Firstly, thank you so much for this interview today and hope all is well especially with what’s going on at the moment.
How and when was ‘Bubba Meltys’ first created and when did you first get the idea to create them?
It all started by accident! I first became ill approx 8 years ago and struggled to be able to leave the house. I also did not like any candles and wax melts that were available to buy, I wanted things fun and spooky! I started making my own at home to help keep me occupied and soothe my anxiety. It wasn’t long until my family and friends started wanting them. At the same time, I was learning to cope with my chronic illness, M.E. and declining mobility in my knees. The wax melts started taking more shapes and forms reflecting how I was feeling. They literally became my art, my way of coping with my illness. I have a few friends who are also sick and I would make them to send as gifts. Someone suggested I start putting photos on Instagram and showing my art, then more and more people were messaging me wanting to buy them, then it just took off from there.
Your products are made with such quality and are all vegan/cruelty-free; is this a subject that is important to you?
I actually started with beeswax because it is so much easier to mould with, however, I did see a lot of people having to go without because they are vegan and despite the fact that beeswax comes from wild bees, it still was not ok for them to use. As my melts are art with heart and I want them to be ok for everyone to use, I did some research and discovered soy wax. That then became my main wax base to use. I also made sure all ingredients were vegan friendly including right down to the stickers I use!!! I love animals. Before I became sick, I wanted to work with dogs. Running around mountains training them to do search and rescue, so it was in no doubt that I would only use products that are not tested on animals. The high quality is reflected in the locally sourced ingredients. I use the best colours, wax and fragrance oils. Even my packaging is UK sourced. It means my margins are smaller, but I think the quality is far more critical than profits!! I do not care about benefits; I am a wax artist, not a businesswoman. No animal should suffer for my art!! All artists choose quality over profits. I also donate a lot to charities too!
What’s your creative process from the start to finish when making them?
I prefer to keep it as old school and natural as possible. I use the melting wax on the hob method. I ensure I use very high-quality ingredients which you can tell as soon as you get them, something I always thought was missing from all standard wax melts. I add the fragrance and chosen colours, then pour into moulds. Once set, removing them is magical. Then I get to decorating and packaging them. This process is something that I find relaxing and calming even when I am swamped with orders. The process is soothing for my anxiety. There is a science behind it too and it has taken a few years of trial and error and research to perfect my blend which is designed to take a little longer than normal melts to fully melt into a pool to help create artistic photo ops. Some folks also keep them as ornaments!! They are perfect to create melting videos too for satisfying posts online.
Were you always creative as a child and interested in making things?
I was fascinated with chemistry sets, making mud pies, and writing creative stories. I loved going on adventures too, all in my kid’s mind, of course, I was a child of the 80s, outside fun was compulsory. But I never thought of myself as an artist. My sister is an artist, and I was always more into writing. I loved nothing more than going off into a fantasy world that I invented. Being given an essay to write in school with only a title and you had to do the rest was fun for me!! I even worked as a journalist for a while, but it was too cutthroat for me. I am more peace and love!! Plus I am not good with other people’s rules on my creativity. I was not very good in school and academics but anything where I could be free and write stories, or do art class, even though I couldn’t actually draw, was more my thing.
Have you always been into the dark/gothic scene? When did it first begin?
I have been obsessed with Halloween for as long as I can remember, then I discovered horror and I was sold for life. Anything dark and spooky is exciting to me and very beautiful. However, I am a bit of a paradox, I love spooky, dark horror but also cute unicorns and mermaids. I relate with the evil witches in fairy tales but equally, relate to the main characters. This applies to horror too, when I was younger I wanted either pinhead or predator to be my boyfriend!! I love anything that’s unique and different. Even in music, I love anything from Pantera to Dolly Parton! I do find it hard to be pigeon-holed though as I like so many things. I think this reflects in my meltys too which are loved by everyone from kids to heavy metal men lol!! Anything cute, spooky, dark or fun and I’m all over it.
How do you get inspired to make your products and come up with new ideas for your designs?
It all depends, sometimes I get an idea just from my own emotions or symptoms or someone will message me asking me to create something for them. I then delve into research and get as much information as possible. Then the inspiration just pops into my head. I research suitable moulds, use moulds I have or even make a mould (not fun to do)!! Colours and fragrances come into my head and I simply get creating. There’s something so magical about removing the melty from the mould. Then I get painting and decorating them. Package them up and start to write the inspiration story behind the collection, which is then printed out and added to each one. It’s exciting and fun for me plus it helps me to distract myself from my chronic pain. I get so many messages and requests and try my best to honour as many as possible. It’s all about the awareness for me, connecting with people and showing them they are not alone.
With over 38.9k followers on Instagram, what makes you such a good promoter when selling your goods? How do you feel is the best way to advertise your brand?
Instagram is a weird one, just a couple years ago I had no idea what Instagram was and barely used Facebook!! I guess folks just really like watching the melting vids, they find them soothing and satisfying. I answer all comments and messages all the time. I find that because what I do is genuine and valuable that it just speaks for itself. I have not really focused on marketing but do intend to look into that too. I want to reach more people and show them they are not alone. I have had so many messages from people telling me they were on the edge, then they found my socials. That is why it is so important to me, it’s bigger than me!
Is there anything new coming out soon? If so, can you tell us?
I always have new products coming out, pretty much every month there will be something new because I am trying to get to as many illnesses as possible to help others feel love. I am also starting a spoonie squad of collaborations with other successful brands and or influencers. All of which suffer a chronic illness, mental illness and or disability to help inspire their fans who may be suffering in silence. But when they see their idol speaking out about having anxiety and they see them doing well, it will hopefully start them seeing that its not the end. I already have Avelina de Moray and Luna Lily in the squad and am currently working with a few more that I cannot say yet who they are!!
With such an amazing range of spooky wax melts, which one is your personal favourite?
My favourite changes every week lol, I love making the coffin gift boxes and collaborations with anyone. But currently, I am enjoying making the custom spoonie boxes. Basically someone gives me details of their fav colours and scents and a list of their illnesses and I try to capture it in all in a box….so fun and very rewarding to make.
Using such professional photos, do you work with one photographer, or do you have a team?
Wait for what? That’s a big compliment!! I legit use my iPhone 8 for photos!! I think it is important to try to keep it as real as possible and not have them too perfect.
Amazingly, your shop contributes to raising awareness for Mental Health, Chronic Illness and Disabilities. When did you thought to do this through your products?
It just happened, I was not planning it, they just started to take a more artistic creative style and I actually found that making something like Fuck M.E. and melting it was so gratifying to me. When I realised that I loved it I figured others would too. It is the main core of my business and why I do what I do. One it helps me to let creativity help me cope with my own illnesses, but equally, it helps others to feel validated when they see something that is raising awareness for their illness or describing an emotion that reflects how they feel. They are very popular as gifts too, very thoughtful to give to someone to show you care and empathise.
You are one inspiring and courageous lady! What advice would you give to anyone suffering from a Disability, Chronic Illness or Disability?
My biggest bit of advice is to find a community to help support you. That is why I have the Melty Army on Facebook. It is a group where other spoonies can hang out, give each other advice and tips and just vent with no judgement. When I first became sick I felt confused and isolated. Support groups are vital. Also taking a rest day!! Resting is a key part of managing your illness. Research too, get as much info as you can so you understand what you are going through and can learn how to manage it. Please know YOU ARE NOT ALONE in this battle.
Have you had any musicians, or alternative influencer buying your products?
My partner is in the band Trucker Diablo and does all my artwork. There are many influencers which I mentioned a few above that I collaborate with, but there have also been a few others like Bunny from Youtube and Lilith Fury has also collaborated. Death Candy has promoted my products and loves them as well as up and coming gothic influencer Mumma Goth. There are more but some prefer to keep it private and simply just want to use them which I fully respect. Again I am not in this for fame and money, it is art and awareness that gets me so fulfilled.
What other things do you sell on your site, aside from the spooky wax melts?
I also make my own candles, some are shaped candles and others are in travel tins and jars. I do a book club too which folks love and often sell burners.
Do you make everything yourself that is featured on your site, or do other businesses approach you?
All wax melts and candles are my own. The burners or mugs etc are bought in and sometimes I will help promote other businesses and use their products like resin makers or jewellery that i add into gift boxes that i create
Who would you love to calibrate with in the future, be it a model, musician, photographer?
Anyone at all who can help me raise awareness if someone with a higher profile was willing to collaborate I would be more than happy to work with them. But I am all about us normal non-famous folks too. It makes someone feel special when you work with them to create something. As for someone famous, I would love to work with anyone as long as they had something to raise awareness for, whether that is a chronic illness, mental illness or disability. Tim Burton would be awesome though too just for fun!! Can you imagine what we would come up with? Or Lady Gaga as she has always been open about having fibromyalgia. Michael J Fox who has Parkinson’s disease and as I am a huge 80s movies fan or even Dynamo who has Crohn’s Disease. I’d also love to work with Ozzy and or Jack Osbourne who suffers from Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis respectively. I am sure they would have some ideas that would be right up my alley. I am sure there are others but i would most definitely prefer them to have some sort of illness that we can use to reach others and connect people, using their huge platforms. I would definitely prefer folks with a more spooky, alternative vibe too so then I can get very creative. But again I am just happy to work with anyone and help raise awareness because you just never know who will see it and who will feel better once they find me!!
Is there anything you would like to mention or say to our readers?
I just want to thank you guys for the support, everything I can do to reach people helps. This is an incredible opportunity and I am very grateful. I just want even one person to read this and say hey I have a chronic illness or I am struggling with depression and see that there is so much help out there. You are not alone and you are sick, not dead. You can still achieve things in life despite your illness or disability and there are so many people out there who will understand and not judge you. Please know it is not the end, it is literally a new beginning on a new road.
Lots of Love,