Meet the seven candle startups that are bringing light and cheer to your home

Candles are more than just simple tapers or pillars to turn to when the lights go out. These seven startups are working to change the perception of candles in India.
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A warm glow. A celebratory ambience. A romantic setting. A festive occasion. A pick me up at the end of a hard day.

A lit candle means different things to different people. And at a time when most Indians are staying locked in amid the second wave of COVID-19, a candle is an easy-breezy way to add some cheer, merriment fragrance – and light – to a room.

Candles may no longer be used as a major source of light, but they are rising in popularity and use across Indian homes.

The global scented candles market size is expected to reach $645.7 million by 2026, rising at a market growth of 11.8 percent CAGR during the forecast period. India’s share of this market pie is growing, as disposable income grows and more and more people look at feel-good options in their homes.

This boom has led to spurt in startups creating candles that are more décor accessories than simple wax tapers or pillars. Here’s a list of the top startups that are working to change the perception of candles in India:

RAD Living

Founded by brother-sister duo Vineet Arora, 27, and Radhika Arora, 20, in October 2020, this Delhi-based indie brand offers more than candles.

We retail a 'vibe' to our customers. Our candles are not just plain jane showpieces; they are a reflection of what our customer feels or relates to in their life. So, we actually offer good humour along with a well-thought palette of fragrances through all-natural soy wax candles,” Vineet says.

The duo started up after amidst the pandemic after three months of research and extensive trial runs of wax types, fragrances, wick sizes, and the right containers.

During the lockdown, we realised the value of having our own little safe corner. Somewhere we could be just us and nothing felt wrong even when the world was going upside down. We found solace in the flicker of candlelight; we found a metaphor of life in the dance of light and shadow,” he adds.

Unlike most brands, the startup experiments with fragrance palettes, keeping in mind the choices of today's audiences. Fragrances like cucumber lemonade, cappuccino, candy, seaside and others have garnered a great response.

The two signature collections include Truth Bombs, which aim to kick off a riot of laughter, awkward revelations, a series of I-know-rights, and explosively honest confessions, and F.L.Y. - First Love Yourself, which offer an unusual and unapologetic take on radical self-love. The candles are priced between Rs 250 and Rs 1,500.

The Philotree

The Philotree is an offshoot of Teal Tree India, which was founded by Gitanjali Bajaj and Aditya Bajaj, a mother-son duo who aim to promote holistic and healthy living.  

The Delhi-based startup began by offering a range of aroma oils, soaps, and scrubs. The duo decided to create scented candles as a Diwali special offering, and were “overwhelmed to see the positive response”.

“We decided to create a 100 percent vegan candle brand with unique blends. “Most of our candles use fragrance to create an experience, for example, being in the mountains or sipping a cocktail at the beach as opposed to plain vanilla aromas,” Aditya says.

All candles are made by hand in small batches; all offer a personal touch as they are not mass produced. The candles – available in fragrances like Himalayan Mist, Bora Bora, and Passion Fruit - are priced between Rs 199 and Rs 1,499.

“The Himalayan Mist is our sellout candle. As the name suggests, the fragrance wafts you away to snowy pine-clad hills in the Himalayas,” says Aditya says.

Umbr Tree

Launched by Syed Naqib Ahmed and Sangeeta Nandy, Bangalore-based Umbr Tree is a home fragrance brand that offers fragrances that “express the purity, diversity, and heritage of India”.

Umbr Tree produces hand-poured candles – they are sustainable and manufactured without any paraffin, petroleum, animal by-products, and are free of additives, dyes, and other toxic chemicals.

“All Umbr Tree fine fragrance candles are made with our proprietary all-natural wax blend of soya wax, coconut wax, beeswax, and palm wax. We also make our own wicks using 100 percent natural, lead-free cotton,” Syed says. “The candles are RoHS-certified and are probably the only one of their kind to be certified natural air purifiers.”

The product lineup includes two collections: Vogue, which offers fragrances from around the world such as Amber Oudh, Bergamot Lime, Cotton Musk, Jasmine Neroli, Lavender Vanilla, Mandarin Leather, and Rose Clove; and Soul of India, a set of fragrances that captures the essence and beauty of India with varieties like Dakshin Woods, Memoirs of Ziro, Palolem Breeze, Pichola’s Edge, Sacred Konark, Shillong Blossoms, and Shimla Bakehouse. Prices range from Rs 720 to Rs 3,120.

“We aim to be the leader in the home fragrance industry in India and globally. We have joined hands with eminent luxury brands like MiradorLife and ecommerce partner Amazon and plan to associate with 100 retail partners by the end of this year. We want Umbr Tree to be known for natural, toxin-free candles,” Sangeeta says.

Applefall

Satish Patronia, who has worked with UTV, Zee TV, and Star CJ, for the last 22 years, decided to give vent to his inner creativity in a new way by launching Mumbai-based Applefall, a top-quality personal care and wellness products brand. Apart from scrubs, soaps, and oils, the startup offers a range of candles “handpoured with love”.

“Healthy living is not just about the body, but also includes the things around us. What we breathe and smell has an impact on our day-to-day life, and we aim to augment that with our scented, environment friendly, soy wax candles,” Satish says.

The candles – priced at Rs 500+ - are available in popular fragrances such as vanilla, lavender, jasmine, and more.

The team believes that India is now opening up to experiencing new fragrances. “We plan to launch a range of new fragrances in candles and also different sizes. Till now the overall acceptance has been for smaller-sized jar candles, but I believe times have changed. This is why we plan to launch larger candles,” Satish says.

The lifestyle startup also aims to add more fragrances to its range with the idea of “nature in your room”. “These will be a unique range of nature-inspired fragrances that are sure to freshen up any room they are placed in – along with your mood.”

Pine & Lime

Aishwarya Choudhary and Ishaan Shrivastava, both 28 years old, strongly believe in the words of perfumer Holladay Saltz. “Memories that are big and sad, {that} are beautiful and joyful, that mean something to us…can be brought back in an instant with one single breath.”

This is the reason why their Delhi-based customised gifting startup Pine & Lime launched “candles with a difference” amidst the pandemic.

The Lub Dub Lamps are personalised to capture memories, and work as a medium to “express emotions without speaking much”. These candles carry a map of the place that’s special to you, a message that describes a million thoughts, and a QR code.

“This QR code works as a time capsule, containing songs, playlists, video notes, letters, etc. One simply doesn’t light a Lub Dub Lamp, but takes a trip down the memory lane after scanning the custom QR code. After all, lights will guide you home. Our biggest USP is that it’s not just another home decor product; it’s a memento to remember all the good times,” Aishwarya says.

Priced at Rs 1,499, these unusual candles aim to help trigger memories by using our olfactory system. “With our candles, we’re trying to captivate different senses to evoke memories, especially at a time when we are holed up in our homes and might be feeling reminiscent,” Ishaan says.

Joy Candles

Unused wax lying around the home led to a new hobby – candle making – for Mumbai-based sisters Maithili Mishra, a pistol shooter, and Meenakshi Mishra, transportation designer. Over the next few months, the hobby turned into a business venture that provided them with joy! Reason enough for the company to be named Joy Candles.

“The first time we made candles, we had a couple of guests over. They wanted the candles customised as well, but also picked up the ones we had made without asking the price. That look of satisfaction on people’s faces inspired us to unleash our creativity,” Maithali says.

It took the founders a few months and countless hours of talking to vendors, testing samples, sourcing ingredients, and experimenting in their workshop to launch the brand in July 2019.

Today, Joy Candles offers handcrafted products that are “eco-conscious and burn clean”, and are priced between Rs 180 and Rs 5,500.

The brand uses pure organic beeswax and plant-based organic fragrances to create their candles, wax melts, and closet fresheners.

“All our candles are chanted with positive affirmations to spread love, peace, and joy, and can be customised. The Shell, Cupcake, Printed, and Monogram Candles are extremely popular,” Meenakshi says.

C for Candle

Chirosri Chanda Roy has tried her hand at many creative pursuits, including writing, photography, and others.

The self-confessed “passionate thinker, impulsive creator, and believer in magic”, believes that candles have been a part of life for many of us down the years. “Who can forget the candles we lit during power cuts, in a church, or on the birthday cake,” she says.

Chiroshri, who compares making candles to meditation, says she wants to make candles “a regular habit, not occasional behaviour”.

This desire led her to launch her homegrown candle brand, C for Candle, which offers a range of soy wax candles with natural fragrances.

C for Candle products are priced between Rs 250 and Rs 2,500, and are “homemade with love”. The top sellers include summer fragrances, including Morning Glory, Midnight Dust, Misty Forest, and Fresh Gardenia, and the 7 Chakra Gift Box.

“Many Indians still prefer room fresheners, which at the end of the day are chemical-based based. We want them to switch to our all-natural candles,” Chiroshri says.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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