North East's Bear Burners narrowly avoids liquidation by becoming a TikTok sensation

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
From almost entering liquidation in April 2023, Bear Burners in Jarrow is now a thriving business - all thanks to TikTok.

Bear Burners, a handmade candle and wax melt business on Bedesway, in Jarrow, has transformed its fortunes in the space of less than a year, thanks to social media.

Founded in 2018 by Rachel Spence, from South Shields, as a small business alongside her full time job, it has grown from strength to strength.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In 2021, she and her husband James were able to open a shop, however, the cost of living crisis had an impact on Bear Burners and soaring energy bills, coupled with damp problems in the shop, meant that the business almost ceased trading in April 2023.

Just as she was thinking of calling time on Bear Burners, Rachel set up a TikTok account showcasing her business, which set her on the path to revival.

Rachel and James Spence, the owners of Bear Burners in Jarrow. Photo: National World.Rachel and James Spence, the owners of Bear Burners in Jarrow. Photo: National World.
Rachel and James Spence, the owners of Bear Burners in Jarrow. Photo: National World. | National World

Rachel has explained how she felt at the start of last year when costs started to rise.

The 32-year-old said: "I didn't realise how much of an impact the cost of living crisis would have on the business until I got a gas and electric bill, which went up from £97 to £850 and it continued to rise.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Then we noticed some damp in the shop and what was meant to be a week closure ended up being four months during what should have been our busiest time.

"We have an amazing local community that come in and it was just gone - it was a nightmare.

"In April, I called my accountant and told them that passion wasn't going to save us, we'd literally put everything into it so the accountant was due to come in on the day that I sent up the TikTok account."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At the time of writing, Bear Burners has more than 18,000 followers of TikTok and a successful shop on the platform.

Since setting up the account almost a year ago, Rachel has been able to grow and foster an incredibly supportive community, who travelled from across the UK and Ireland to visit her when she finally reopened her Jarrow shop.

She added: "I refused TikTok for years because I'm not cool enough, I'm a 32-year-old woman and I didn't have a clue about it.

"I felt that I wouldn't fit in and then a couple of business friends and a regular customer pushed me to try it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I started off on a TikTok Live pouring wax into clam shell molds and I only had seven viewers but I loved the interaction I could have with them.

Bear Burners sells handmade candles and wax melts. Photo: National World.Bear Burners sells handmade candles and wax melts. Photo: National World.
Bear Burners sells handmade candles and wax melts. Photo: National World. | National World

"After that, the whole thing kind of just went bananas and a kickstarter manager from TikTok rang and told us that even though we only had 700 followers at the time, we were the fastest growing merchant on the platform.

"I didn't have a strategy or a plan, I'm just me and from then on the opportunities we've had have been amazing.

"I'm pinching myself because this is like a dream, we've built up a community and when we relaunched the shop, there was a two-and-a-half hour queue out the door.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
The business has been extremely popular on TikTok, boasting more than 18,000 followers. Photo: National World.The business has been extremely popular on TikTok, boasting more than 18,000 followers. Photo: National World.
The business has been extremely popular on TikTok, boasting more than 18,000 followers. Photo: National World. | National World

"People had travelled from Bristol, Ireland, Scotland etc. and I've never went viral, it isn't a viral sensation but it is about making time and making people feel part of the community.

"At the end of the day, what you see on TikTok is what you would get in the shop."

You can find out more about Bear Burners by visiting: https://www.bearburners.co.uk/ or take a look at the business' TikTok account at: https://www.tiktok.com/@bearburners.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.