CEO Series

This M’sian Upgraded A Simple Household Item, Ended Up Selling 15k Pieces In 2 Years

  • Lilin+Co is a modern and minimalist scented candle company established since early 2016 by two partners.
  • Their soy wax candles are hand-poured in small batches in a studio located at Kuala Lumpur.
  • They import their raw materials from various suppliers overseas to ensure that the candles are on par as quality is something they emphasise on.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of candles? Probably birthdays or spas, or something you’d look for in a blackout. However, Julie Yim wants to translate the use of candles to our everyday lives.

Lighting The Fire

The idea to start Lilin+Co came about back in 2015, when Julie attended her cousin’s wedding in Melbourne.

“As a guest, I received a soy candle tealight which was their wedding favours. Soy candles were really popular over in Australia at that time.”

She pondered on the idea that a quality product such as the soy candle was produced by a small homegrown business with an appealing package.

“It was intriguing and I set out to do more research. That was when I realised there was a gap in the Malaysian market,” she added.

Julie found out that Malaysia lacked soy candles in the market, much less one that is produced locally.

Image Credit: Lilin+Co

“There was also a gap for quality candles offered at an affordable pricing. Initially we were also unsure of the market as we realise candles are not essential daily staples that people will spend on.”

“So far, most of our customers have purchased our candles as gifts and it is the gifting market that we are currently tapping into.”

Thus Julie set out to launch Lilin+Co together with another founder who wishes to remain anonymous. Julie Yim is 29, and in charge of the brand’s social media, marketing strategy, creative direction and PR. She is a journalist by day. the other founder is 30 and handles most of the R&D, deals with suppliers and manages finances.

What’s “Soy” Good?

You might be wondering what is the difference between soy candles and the more traditional ones made out of paraffin (that you probably use when you don’t have electricity). According to the team, the benefits of soy candles include:

  1. Less toxicity: Soy wax is less toxic as compared to paraffin candles and are less likely to trigger allergies.
  2. Longer burning: It also has a lower melting point that enables it to burn slower and cleaner than paraffin based candles.
  3. Renewable & biodegradable: Unlike paraffin which comes from petroleum, soy is a renewable plant-derived product.
  4. Low heat: Soy produces less heat than paraffin and keeps your house cooler.
The candle making process/ Image Credit: Lilin+Co

Burning Strong And Bright

“We’ve been running the brand for 2 years now and have seen an organic growth which has been very encouraging,” Julie said.

“Our initial capital was low, not exceeding RM10,000 as we are doing this on a part-time basis and were testing out the market at that time.”

Customer feedback was positive overall with 1 out of 5 customers returning. They’ve also had the opportunity to work with large brands such as YTL Hotels, Robinsons and Guinness.

“Our sales grew 300% from last year mainly due to bulk orders for weddings and special occasions and sold about 15,000 candles to date.”

“As we are in the stages of scaling the business to accommodate the growth, we are constantly reinvesting our profits which goes towards infrastructure upgrade such as better equipment, purchasing more bulk supplies and even hiring part time help when necessary,” she added.

Fighting The Heat

“The challenge is constantly changing for us. In the earlier stages of the business, we conducted plenty of R&D and our candles today are a result of countless trial and error.”

They had trouble getting the right suppliers back when they started as local suppliers were not up to par with their standards, thus they had to source for materials overseas.

“We did try a few local suppliers at the beginning but there were not many options/brands to choose from in terms of wax and scent so we have to import from various suppliers around the region to ensure that our candles are on par as quality is something we emphasise on,” Julie added.

Although all their raw materials are imported including the wax, scent and wick, Lilin+Co works to maintain a reasonable price point for customers.

Image Credit: Lilin+Co

They also spent a while to get the perfect candle before even putting it out for the public.

“The technique and research also took about 6 months to perfect as it was a trial and error process. We spent months reading up candle-making forums and trying to figure out what was wrong as some of the candles were a disaster and had cracks in the middle.”

However, now that the business is stable, Julie finds it a challenge today in managing customer expectations and scaling the business to accommodate growth.

“We will need to generate enough revenue to reinvest into more equipment to improve efficiency and eventually move to a bigger space. Customers today also know what they want and expect an immediate response to their queries or orders,” she said.

Plans For The Future

Julie and her team have big plans for the future of Lilin+Co, hoping to cement their name in Asia as the go-to brand for scented soy candles and expanding overseas.

“We currently already have a stockist in Singapore (Kapok at National Design Centre) however we look towards growing both local and overseas presence.”

“Our 5-year plan involves cementing our brand as an established candle producing brand in Asia on par with international candle brands.”

  • If you want to know more about Lilin+Co, head over to their Facebook and Instagram.

Featured Image Credit: Lilin+Co

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