How this Kashmiri girl’s candle making business is lighting up the Valley
Twenty-five year-old engineering graduate Mehak Pervaz of Central Kashmir has started her own business venture - making, designing and customising candles.
Mehak, a resident of Elahi Bagh area of Srinagar city, says candles have fascinated her from childhood.
“I have realised time and again that lighting a candle does wonders to lift one’s mood. Unfortunately, in a place like Kashmir, we do not use decorative candles for functions and celebratory occasions,” says Mehak, who has named her business ‘Shamaaque by Mehak’.
During the COVID-19 lockdown last year, Mehak was inspired to start a candle business in the valley after seeing breathtaking photos of candles on Instagram.
Although it’s only been about 8 months since the business opened up, she claims to be receiving great response. “People in the valley are now ordering different colours and designs for festivals, wedding ceremonies, birthdays, and other occasions. This culture was dead, but I am glad my venture is reviving it.”
In a short period of time, Mehak has managed to gather over 1,400 followers on her Instagram handle, where she regularly features her newly designed candles on her handle - Shamaaque_by_mehak.
A serious career
Mehak’s candles have gained much popularity in the valley. In a conversation with HerStory, she says she considers candle business a serious career. “Since I am the only one in the candle-making business in this region, I fully intend to take this business forward, and bring loads of candle varieties to the people of Kashmir.”
Speaking about the preparations that went into launching her business, Mehak says she had to import tools, raw material and wax from outside Jammu & Kashmir. “I invested Rs 40,000 into launching my candle business. I could not find a single item in Jammu & Kashmir,” says Mehak, whose elder brother Sibtan Mir helps her run the business.
She makes the candles herself taking around 2-3 hours to design one. The price of the candles start from Rs 30 and can go up to Rs 700. She offers both scented and unscented candles, and can customise her designs according to the clients' requirements.
In Kashmir, where power failure is routine, people have been using candles only as a substitute to light bulbs. Through her business, Mehak has managed to put a spin on the regular utility-value white candle by bringing different candle varieties, which has really caught the attention of the people. “I have seen people in foreign countries use candles for leisure purpose, but here, people do not use candles for reasons other than lighting. But now, they are realising the multiple use of candles. Most of her orders come in through social media, and she customises every order.
The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation Limited (JKTDC) held a women entrepreneurs’ event in Srinagar in November 2020, where Mehak got an opportunity to showcase her business venture. She says her venture was much appreciated by the tourism officials in the administration.
“I have introduced many designs in lovely new containers to attract more customers. As of now, I run my business from home, but I would love to take this on to a larger platform.