Creatives // Daphne Tan (Candles of Light)

More and more Singaporeans are leaving their full-time, stable jobs to open up their own businesses to pursue their passion. Daphne Tan is one of them. Opening Candles of Light just a few years ago, her business has grown in such a short time and is now carried in Tangs (a major local department store), Gallery & Co, Plain Vanilla Bakery, SPRMRKT and Keepers. If you're Singaporean or live in Singapore, these names are familiar and a huge deal for small business owners like Daphne. 

I first got to know Daphne when she reached out to me through Instagram to try 4 of her candles (2 of which I have now happily finished) and I was initially surprised by how good they were. Each candle is thoughtfully mixed together with different times of the day in mind and I only truly appreciated it when I lit each candle at their respective hours of the day. Daphne truly understands how to capture the mood of Dawn, Daylight, Dusk and Midnight in the mixture of scents. These babies got me through difficult times and were very much part of my healing process so if you're in a sad place, you know where to go. 

As the creative scene in Singapore grows, it is more common to walk into shopping malls or shops to see local products but many don't understand the sacrifice and hard work small business owners face when working hard to put their name out on the market. 

Tell me more about yourself!

I have a background in public relations and events, specifically in the food and lifestyle industry. I love food. I’ve always been interested in ingredients and flavours, food culture, the stories of their provenance, and how it makes you feel. That was, to a large part, my training. Scent really encapsulates all of this, and then some!

What got you interested in candle-making?

I started with a very basic workshop, on making soy candles. I was intrigued with the scent creation process, and started voraciously smelling all the essential oils, fragrances, dilutions, absolutes etc which I could get my hands on. I started building my own little scent apothecary at home, and experimented with different types of waxes, wicks, until I found combinations I was happy with. What particularly intrigued me was how natural scents smelt different, and made me feel different compared to traditional perfumes. I couldn’t, and still can’t, get enough. Also, with candles, I loved the idea of being able to gift light to someone. Not just literally, but symbolically I wanted to translate how giving a lovely smelling candle can light a friend in need, and lift their spirits.

Why did you decide to open your own business?
There are various parts to this. I started gifting friends and family candles for Christmas as a way of me being able to gift them light. Eventually this morphed into retailing them. Now, I see this little business as a means of self-expression and because I truly believe in all-natural home scents, as we become a lot more conscious about what we use and what’s around us.

What do you feel about the creative industry in Singapore?

I think its exploded in the past few years! Not just in Singapore but around the region as well. It used to be about working for a big agency, or working for an international company. So it’s really heartening to see individuals starting their own small businesses and making it work. And I only see it getting better and more vibrant as the sheer volume of such businesses grow. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Oh this is a good one. I see myself pretty much the same as now. Still learning new things, still trying new things. Ideally, I would have developed the business and expanded it into a well-established natural home scent brand represented internationally with at a few brick and mortar stores. Hopefully I’ll still have my sanity and wits about me. 

What do you wish Singaporeans knew about start-ups and creatives like you?

There’s a tremendous amount of hard work that goes behind the scenes, regardless of what you see on social media. It’s not easy, and you need to have a strategy and think long term (still working on both myself!). However, it is possible to survive and be successful. I think. I’m still learning in the process, so watch out for more updates :) 

Check Candles of Light out at their upcoming site here and their social accounts, Facebook and Instagram. All pictures belong to Candles of Light.


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