You won’t find a prettier smelling workplace than Hush Candle. In a small office space in the Bartley industrial area, founders Nicole Su, 29 and Chelsea Low, 26, are hard at work boiling wax when we meet them for the first time. The air is suffused with an inviting fragrance; already we can tell this will be a relaxed interview.
The pot of wax sitting on the induction cooker looks out of place surrounded by office work—which is fine because that isn’t actually the Hush workshop. From a workspace in the corner of Low’s family flat in the East, the two-woman team churns out an average of 1,000 candles a month. Come Christmas, their peak period, orders shoot up to four times the number. “From November to December, we try not to go on holiday,” says Low, half-joking.
The dainty candles are advertised as “hand-poured” and made of all-natural ingredients—soy wax as the base, mixed in with natural essential oils for a real, quality scent. Using only therapeutic-grade essential oils also means the candles have aromatherapy benefits, like helping you relax or preventing headaches, says Su. Their bestseller candle Peppermint Orange, for example, helps to stimulate mental activity, clear the respiratory tract and present nausea.
Wielding a pot, Low interrupts to ask “This is jasmine, right?” “Yeah, jasmine,” Su confirms, after a quick whiff of the orange liquid. Satisfied, Low returns to her station in front of the induction cooker. “Sometimes even when I’m making candles right, it comes to a point where I think my nose is also spoilt already; I need to double-check with Nicole like ‘oh what smell is this?’” she shrugs.
Apart from selling online, Hush stocks their products at Tangs and consignment stores like Naiise. They’re also stocked in Kuala Lumpur and Cambodia, in stores that fit their “look, feel, and overall branding”. All-white, au naturel and sealed with a black cap, the minimalistic candles make pretty gifts priced affordably at $18 and $32, and burn for up to 25 and 50 hours respectively.
“A lot of people say we look like Jo Malone, but we didn’t really take our inspiration from them—we just wanted something that’s very timeless and not based on trends,” said Low.
It’s a simple brand strategy that hasn’t failed them yet. Since the brand’s first official launch in 2015, business has steadily grown, and the range has expanded from candles in three scents to nine; along with a new line of roll-on perfumes, and scented sprays to come. They’re also constantly engaged in workshops and corporate events, making customized candles and scented tablets as party gifts for invited guests. This June, Hush turns three.
Demand has grown, and yet the two, who first met as colleagues in a PR firm, remain the only full-timers onboard. They handle everything from the actual making to marketing, to SEO and maintaining the website, juggling the burgeoning business on top of freelance marketing commitments. A lot of the inertia comes from dealing with real practical issues like cash flow, says Su.
For now, Hush Candle hasn’t yet blossomed into a full-time gig, though both say it’s a plan they’re hoping to realize within a year’s time. Phase I starts with moving out of a home business to a proper workspace; but before that takes off, we took a look at the processes.
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This article was first published in SG Magazine.