IF you’re familiar with the internet trend and Netflix series Is It Cake? then Aneelia Balraj could have her own spinoff called Is It a Candle?
The 19-year-old entrepreneur has been making realistic-looking dessert candles and aromatherapy candles, among other types, for the past seven years.
But while she now has a successful business, it all started with her finding different ways to boost her mental health.
Balraj grew up in Bamboo Settlement No 2 and still lives there.
Throughout her childhood, and while attending Bamboo Settlement Primary School and Laksmi Girls Hindu College, she was obsessed with arts and crafts.
She told Sunday Newsday, I was always an art person. I have participated in many art competitions and that is my passion.
I love (all forms of art) drawing, painting, physical models, I used to love doing those things.
Laughing as she recalls a younger version of herself, she says she wanted to be so many different things and was also interested in law and science.
He is studying pre-law at the Academy of Tertiary Studies (ATS) and recently completed a certificate in software engineering at the CTS College of Business and Computer Science. He is set to get a degree in IT (information technology) there as well.
Her mother, Mala Basdeo, makes bath and body products and in 2016, decided to get certified by doing a candle-making and soap-making course at the Ministry of Community Development.
At the time, Balraj was 12 years old and was driving home with his mother, shed attending classes with Basdeo due to time constraints.
I was just tagging along but the teacher was like, Im so involved and Im doing well and that my mom should register me. He did, and I was the youngest graduate of the course on the island.
Not long before this, Balraj was diagnosed with anxiety after struggling to figure out what was happening to him for some time.
It took a really long time to figure out what it was.
I went to doctor after doctor, did many ECG tests, blood tests and no one knew what the issue was. Then I went to another doctor, and he said I had anxiety and the (complications) I was having were panic attacks.
He tried using prescription medication but unfortunately, his symptoms worsened.
I know medication helps a lot of people and they really should do it, but it doesn’t help me.
That’s when she decided to try making a lavender-rose aromatherapy candle to help with her anxiety.
These types of candles are widely known for aiding sleep, reducing stress, alleviating anxiety.
One of his priorities at the moment is also to raise awareness of the importance of mental health in Trinidad and Tobago.
So I experimented and then I realized that it could really help other people because I could feel a difference.
I gave it to my friends, I gave it to my family, and they said they were willing to buy (the candles).
Before this, he never thought of turning this passion into a business. But with support from his mother, his father, Balraj Basdeo, friends and the rest of his family, he got the motivation to take that decision.
She then launched Aneelia’s WaxCraft.
I did a lot of trial and error, lost a lot (of material) and figured out a way to master making different types of candles.
So it started with aromatherapy, then I expanded to dessert candles and luxury candles.
He uses soy wax because it is eco-friendly/biodegradable and lasts longer.
Her candles also smell exactly what they are described as. A visit to any of his pop-up shops can make you feel like you’ve just walked into a bakery or coffee shop.
Luxury candles, he explains, are simpler and more elegant, mainly composed of dried herbs and spices.
Scents for those types include things like bamboo lime, frosted cocoa, vanilla, and more.
When it comes to dessert/food-and-beverage candles, she makes replicas of cupcakes, pumpkin spice lattes, espresso, ice cream, hot chocolate, masala chai milkshakes, and more.
He also used succulents.
He also does custom orders, adding that people have asked him to replicate the popcorn, among other things.
He says the highlight of (his) entire business is witnessing people’s reactions to his products.
They were surprised to find something that could mimic the smell and appearance so well.
In fact, he told WMN, many guests admitted they were drawn to his set-up because of the scent.
Sometimes people ask if they can eat the candles because they smell so good. He basically informs them that while they are edible because of the soy wax, it won’t taste good, so please don’t.
So how does Balraj make his products so close to the real thing?
First he knows what (he) is aiming for and he mixes different perfumes and finds a way to make them smell the same.
Sometimes the wedding buys the real thing (actual snack/drink) and craft (a replica candle) and lets them sit side by side to compare looks and smells.
A coffee lover herself, she says that coffee-scented/themed products attract customers the most.
Her prices currently range between $85-$225, with the lowest priced aromatherapy candles.
Mental health is an important thing and I really want ppl to have this kind of candle.
He doesn’t have a physical store but this is his main goal.
Grand Bazaar deliveries are free, and between $20 and $30 elsewhere.
Although she is young, she wants other people to know that it is never too late to do what they want.
My mother was late to this and she discovered something she loved later in life.
There are trials and errors but keep going, keep doing what you want.
Anyone interested in learning more about her business or purchasing her products can reach her at 476-2922, waxcraftbyaneelia.com, or under the social media handle WaxCraft by Aneelia on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok
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Image Source : newsday.co.tt