By: Sara Wong, Arts & Culture Editor
For cousins Kelly Hui and Rita Law, making candles began as a shared hobby. But, as the pair detailed in an email interview with The Peak, that quickly turned into more. “We made a few batches and it became a hit amongst our friends and family,” Hui began. “The support was so encouraging that we decided to really consider starting a small business. We started testing and researching and learning about [different] fragrances, wax, vessels, wicks, etc. and eventually decided to turn our fun candle making activity into Vela Candle Bar!”
Hui and Law launched Vela Candle Bar in December 2020, and they have been busy ever since. “We love the local community and we’re so grateful for the support, regardless [of whether] it’s a [purchase], shout-out, or like/comment on a post,” they said.
The Vancouver-based duo hand-pours every candle, using a combination of natural soy wax, phthalate-free fragrance oils, and lead-free wicks. They explained that these elements lead to “a cleaner and longer burn.”
In addition to the time it takes to melt the wax, add wicks to the jars, and mix the fragrance oils, each candle takes a minimum of two weeks to cure before they are ready to be delivered. “Every sale gets a happy dance! We always pinch ourselves because we can’t believe our little dream is now a reality,” they shared.
The pair celebrate their success with every order because,, prior to starting Vela Candle Bar, they did not have a lot of business knowledge. “We had to research and reach out to our peers and resources to learn what we needed to operate a business,” revealed Hui. At the same time, Hui — an SFU alumna — found that what she had studied in school, majoring in Health Sciences and minoring in kinesiology, came in handy.
“Although my degree wasn’t directly related to entrepreneurship, I still gained many valuable skills that prepared me for it,” she said. “All the deadlines that we had for projects/assignments allowed me to learn how to budget my time accordingly [ . . . ] project work has taught me how to recognize and adapt to changes in my environment, and the tutorial discussions I used to have in class have allowed me to gain more confidence in public speaking.”
Vela Candle Bar is growing rapidly, both in sales and brand recognition, yet Hui and Law still consider the beginning of their business to be their biggest achievement. “We’re so proud to have taken the initiative in starting our own small business together and overcoming our fears and objectives prior to launching,” they wrote. And their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to do the same. “Just do it [ . . . ] you never know where it will take you. There’s nothing else scarier than not knowing what could have been if you don’t try,” Hui and Law encouraged. As for what to expect next from Vela, they told The Peak that they were working on some new products and that they also had upcoming partnerships and collaborations.