New West Berkshire business: Former Kennet School pals set up DR Flame
Colour-changing pellet company hoping for online success
Richard Baldwin and his business partner Dylan Collins had a bit of a ‘Eureka!’ moment when they decided to start up a new company, DR Flame, offering colour flame pellets.
DR Flame turned into reality after the pair had a rather alarming close encounter with the wrong side of the law.
In 2019 they were helping out friends at a farm in Kingsclere that was licensed to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes, when they were raided by the police and taken to Basingstoke police station.
Once the misunderstanding had been cleared up they were all free to go, but it left Mr Baldwin and Mr Collins feeling they wanted to be masters of their own destiny.
“It made me realise that unless you are captain of your own ship, you might get steered into some pretty rocky waters,” said Mr Baldwin.
Mr Baldwin, who has a degree in modern languages and lived in Amsterdam, Holland, for many years working as a translator, grew up in Thatcham and met Mr Collins when they were both at Kennet School.
He said: “I’ve always been in touch with Dylan and, when I moved back to England, we looked at starting up a business together. We are both particularly interested in horticulture, but then Dylan hit on the idea of making colour flame pellets for indoor and outdoor fires.
“We knew you could buy sachets that you could throw on a fire and get a few minutes of colour, but by creating these pellets we can supply a third of a kilo bags that will last two to three hours across four evenings.
“We are able to produce about 600 to 700 bags a day.
“The pellets are more eco-friendly and the colour in the flames looks better and is more constant.”
The pair knew nothing about creating the pellets so had to go back to basics, experimenting until they got the right mix. They hired a small workshop in Chapel Row and invested in a pellet machine and started to make the colour-changing briquettes.
“Each colour is a challenge. We researched on the internet and combined different fuels with the colourants until we got the right mix. It was important to maintain good quality in the visual experience for the consumer.”
The colours currently on offer are blue and green, but Mr Baldwin says they are looking at finding ways to add more colours into the mix.
Unfortunately this was all just before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“When the first lockdown came we had some difficulty in getting supplies,” said Mr Baldwin.
“But we’ve soldiered on and I think we are the only people – possibly in the world – who make these pellets.”
Mr Baldwin says that being slightly older, he is 50 and Mr Collins is 52, means they are more relaxed about how the future plays out.
“You don’t have the same weight of responsibility. When you are younger you worry more about success and how to go about things.
“We are just seeing where it takes us, but we are also fairly confident that we will be able to build on our original products.”
Mr Baldwin, who is also currently a stay-at-home dad looking after his five-year-old daughter, said: “Dylan and I work well together – he is the practical, creative one and I deal more with the business side of things.”
The website went live in January this year and the pair are hoping that their colour-changing pellets will soon be adding a variety of colour to fires across the country.
For more information visit https://colouredflames.com/