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When one door closes, another one opens.
That's what happened for Anne and Boh, two Malaysian women who lost their jobs during the pandemic but bounced back harder than ever.
After losing their jobs in 2020, Anne and Boh decided to kickstart their dream of owning a lifestyle goods brand. Siew later joined them to manage collaborations with partners and customer enquiries.
Seeing a trend in self-care products in Malaysia and people's willingness to invest in quality, the duo started their small business called ANBO by making beeswax candles.
"As avid candle lovers, we started asking ourselves this question — what makes a good luxury candle? We started doing homework on waxes and that's how we found the god-tier of wax, beeswax," they shared with SAYS.
There are many benefits to using beeswax, they learnt. "It's denser, so it burns longer than most waxes and produces less toxins."
Extracting beeswax is also a lot more environmentally-friendly than the typical way of producing wax through chemicals.
Beeswax is an all-natural, non-toxic waxy substance secreted by bees. The insects use this wax to construct their honeycombs to store honey. Beekeepers will then extract the honey from the honeycombs, leaving the waxy honeycombs cleaned and filtered, so that they can be used for candles.
While many other candle materials come from industries that harm or deplete environmental resources, beeswax is an eco-friendly wax with minimal environmental impact and no bees are harmed.
"Despite the premium price point (beeswax tend to be two to five times more expensive than paraffin, soy, coconut, etc), we believe in advocating for good candles," they explained.
Refusing to stop just there, the team took it a step further by hand-making eco-friendly vessels with concrete and ceramic jars that can be repurposed
"We do get our hands down and dirty, from getting the right concrete mixture to hand-pouring them, demoulding them, and washing and sanding them," the founders explained.
"The process may sound tedious and tiring (it does, sometimes we even stay up till dawn to get them done), but we take great joy into handcrafting our vessels for each and everyone in our community. Nothing tells more about a product than having them produced with heart!"
Like many start-ups, the company faced their set of challenges such as trying to find the right ratio of cement mixtures to creating the perfect blends of fragrance and beeswax
"[Sometimes they] end up going to our 'reject corner', hahaha — but it's really all about the learning curve!"
"We learnt to be more patient when things don't go as we expected... and invested a vast amount of time into learning what makes a good solid concrete vessel, to doing more research on scent compatibility etc. We started getting our friends and family in as our lab rats (because we don't trust our noses anymore, hahaha) and their brutally honest feedback helped us get onto the right direction."
They shared that the challenges have only gotten bigger over time, but at the end of the day, they see them as fun puzzles to resolve and emerge from.
At the moment, ANBO offers nine candle scents, including bestsellers like their jasmine, osthmanthus, and lavender essential oil and coffee series, which has a marbling effect that makes them look like yummy glasses of coffee
They also offer unscented beeswax, with a hint of honey scent, for those who use them for religious purposes, self-care routines, or other occasions.
There are a range of sizes available, starting from 45g (approx 12 hours burn time) to 250g (approx 63 hours burn time). And they're currently looking into launching bigger sizes for bigger spaces and longer burn hours.
"Scents are subjective and the takeaway for all candles connoisseurs is that, it is a long journey to figure out what scents we all prefer. But it's gonna be a great adventure learning about our likings and creating memories with scents!"