Baira, 29, Founder of Nyala Kraf Lilin

“When I feel down, hopeless, I believe tomorrow will be better.”

1. Can you introduce yourself and what you do for a living?

Hi. My name is Baira, from Johor. I am the founder of Nyala Kraf Lilin, a local candle crafting brand. The journey of my career has started when I completed my Diploma in Fashion, I moved to KL and started my first job with Astro and an NGO.I returned to Johor after years of service only because I was offered a job in Singapore. I decided to end my career, settle down, and start a family three years ago. I started my candle-making business to fill up the gap I felt as a homemaker, not knowing I would eventually become my own boss and enjoy every aspect of the job. Nyala Kraf Lilin was the name I gave to it after that.

2. Why candle-making? Is there any story behind it?

Personally, I am a huge fan of candles. The sense of smell is perhaps more strongly tied to memory than any other sense, and some of the scents I am working with are associated to my childhood memories. They have a sentimental side. When I was a kid, I remember  my mother loved aromatherapy, and this particular memory sparked  my interest in scented candles.

I wanted to offer a different concept in the candle scene. Minimalist candles are everywhere, I am simply trying to give life to the candles by including the dark aesthetic concept, as avant-garde is the sort of thing that I clicked with. That is why I refer to myself as a candle crafter rather than a candle maker. Market-priced candles may have a particular standard, but Nyala allows you to create your candle exactly how you want it for a very modest rate. Because our brand aims to be affordable, I decided to use non-toxic, safe for breathing fragrance oil instead of expensive essential oils in all of my candles. I can promise you that we only use high-end fragrances.

3. How did you differentiate your business and others that have a similar brand to you?

There is another candle-making business that has a similar brand name to mine, but we are so different from one another and expect a totally different niche. Obviously, the aesthetic we carry is distinct. I don’t think people will ever confuse our brand anyhow. They would immediately recognize this Nyala, through the concept that we carry.

4. How do you turn your passion to paycheck? What convinced you?

When I started my business, I wanted to have a brand as good as Bath & Body Work, but I also wanted people to shop small and shop local, so I planned to open a real store within the next few years. The money that I have spent in building this brand was the sole reason why I kept going. I, for one, did not see myself being this serious in the candle crafting scene. I am persuaded that seeing how delighted my clients are with my crafts and how these candles have met their expectations. It’s pure joy.

5. Since you are also a stay-at-home-mom, how did you spend your time making candles and time with your family?

This is my third year in this scene, most of my time today will be fully equipped with house management. I would work for no more thant 4 hours per day  while the rest of my time is for family. My time was severaly limited in the second year of my business, when I had just given birth to my child. I had to work from midnight to 4 AM and had very little rest but I eventually adapt to motherhood. It took some time but I did it. I knew I was going to be so occupied after I gave birth so I concentrated my first year on R&D work.

6. What is your opinion toward the local candle-making scene in JB today to compare with the first time you start your business?

Things are undoubtedly changing. The candle making scene was unheard for the past three year ago. This brand can barely survive. Awareness among people about the small, home-based, and local brands is lacking. Nobody truly appreciates the worth of handcrafted candles.The evolvement of this industry happened especially when the government instructed people to stay home. I guess it helps the mass to cope with stress somehow. Candle-making scenes started blooming throughout the country especially among youth. People are turning hobbies into money-making businesses. Today, we may witness plenty of makers and crafters offering candle-making classes to the public and the responses are surprisingly encouraging.

7. Who/what is your biggest inspiration?

My goal, my interest, and my enthusiasm for candle crafting are what motivate me continue on this path. But, if you ask me about other brands that I put as a benchmark, I will say Bath & Body Work. Especially in terms of quality, scents range, and how big of the brand it is. I think it’s great that people started to shop small and local these day. Every time a person buys from us, small brands, it keeps us going. Perhaps one day, we can all stop relying on imported brands.

8. What’s next from Nyala Kraf Lilin that you want to share with the readers?

Nyala is gearing up for a huge year in 2022. I am expanding this brand to mass productions since there are quite a few demands on it. On the other hand, we are expecting to get a cabin as a working studio. With that cabin studio, I want to welcome walk-in clients so they can experience the magic themselves. This cabin studio will also host private and physical candle crafting classes. The location will be here in Kulai, Johor. Hidden far from the city bustles. Readers may check out our Instagram @nyalakraflilin for updates and activities from Nyala.