Recognised for its iconic Sphinx logo that is plastered across their products, Emporal.Co is a Singapore-based cruelty-free, soy candles and skincare brand run by two sisters, Grace and Lena Lim.
Due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, Grace had to close down her events company in Paris, and return to Singapore.
My sister graduated during COVID, and it was hard to find a job for her then. I personally love running my own business, and I thought having a family business could be really fun.– Grace Lim, co-founder of Emporal.Co
My sister graduated during COVID, and it was hard to find a job for her then. I personally love running my own business, and I thought having a family business could be really fun.
Grace was introduced to her first candle by her aunt who presented it to her as a Christmas gift. One winter night in Paris, she decided to light the candle to enjoy the Christmas spirit and realised how much warmth a candle provided and how much it added to the ambience.
Her newfound love for candles and existing love for skincare soon prompted her to grow into a business with her sister.
With any business, research and development (R&D) played a key role. Prior to launching Emporal.Co, the two sisters found difficulty selecting the products they would sell.
“We started exploring the various products, eventually realising that some initial ones we had decided on weren’t suitable for the Singapore climate,” Grace said.
The business originally began with a host of personalised soy candles, which is their best-selling product.
Slowly, they started adding to their product inventory, including candle holders in unique forms such as crystals and skulls, before moving on to bath and body lotions and scrubs, as well as merchandise.
They regularly release new products — the most recent being a Sphinx scrunchie — as well as unique scents such as Apple Crumble; described as the warm scent of a baked apple pie.
They also took a while to come up with the overall aesthetic and design of their products, finally landing on the Sphinx to represent the brand.
“My sister and I have always loved magical creatures, and we really like how the sphinx is a mixture of a human, lion, and a bird. It’s a beautiful being and I felt at the time, it really represents Emporal as a brand,” said Grace.
Grace and Lena pooled their savings to buy materials, and established Emporal Co. in May 2021.
It first started out as a home-based business — it began in the living room before creeping into the dining room, and finally took over the guest room.
Partly due to their presence on TikTok as well as the pop-up stores they occasionally ran, the business slowly gained traction and they eventually outgrew their home and had to resort to renting a small office space.
“We ran our business from home for around eight months. After renting the small office space, we realised we had to find a bigger space to cater to our expansion,” said Grace.
As such, they’re reinvesting a significant portion of their earnings into a larger space at a new location, and have plans to turn it into a showroom-warehouse space.
“We’re in the midst of doing renovations to the space currently, and we’ll probably move in around September this year,” said Grace.
She added that Emporal Co.’s annual sales have grown to over six figures since its initiation. With the business expanding quickly, they need all hands on deck.
Although they mainly operate as a sibling-run business, their parents chip in help as well — their mum frequently helps with prepping and cleaning the candles to make them ready for the wax pours, and their dad helps them with the logistics.
They also recently hired their first worker to help with the packing of all the orders, and Grace said they’re looking to hire another one or two more employees.
Despite the business growth, they don’t have plans to set up a brick-and-mortar store at the moment. Instead, they are looking at holding more regular pop-ups in different areas across Singapore, as well as focus on the permanent showroom, where customers are able to come and try or smell their products before purchasing.
Featured Credit Image: Emporal.Co
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