Light up your space with Self Supply’s quirky-shaped candles

The homegrown brand also sells concrete goods and mosaic tile furniture in attractive colours.

Self Supply's candles come in a myriad of colours and shapes (All photos: Self Supply)

Joee Tan Ee Joe (better known as Joee), co-founder of Self Supply, used to love collecting candles from different brands before she decided to try her hand at making these blocks of wax herself. She picked up the necessary skills from YouTube, TikTok and other platforms that offered candle-making courses.

Developing her interest during the pandemic, however, meant she had limited options when it came to purchasing the necessary materials as almost everything had to be bought online — one needed to depend on product descriptions and reviews, and hope they were trustworthy. Thus the idea for Self Supply came about, to help beginners like her who are looking for quality candle-making kits.

“I couldn’t find the right substances to work with because there were no reliable suppliers — most of them did not offer a complete set of ingredients. For example, if you needed 10 products, you would only find eight in the set. I struggled to find a good candle-making kit. That’s why I started the business by selling DIY candle kits first. I wanted to help those facing the same problem, so they could make their own candles at home,” she recalls. 


Founder Joee Tan Ee Joe

After launching the kit, Joee also started to sell candles, though they were nothing like the ones Self Supply offers now. “I sold candles in containers, which were very typical and boring.” Subsequently, she advanced towards offering a more stylish and impressive range of candles, available in an array of colours and shapes inspired by minimalist aesthetic and daily life such as nature and fashion.

Originally used as photoshoot props, the quirky-shaped candles quickly attracted attention and people began asking where they could buy them. The demand motivated Joee to begin accepting orders. As she was juggling the business with a full-time job — handling social media marketing for a corporate company — at the time, she spent six months working on the formula to come up with the perfect candle. “Because I make so many shapes and sizes, it was challenging getting the right ‘recipe’. The temperature, type of wax or portion were very tricky.”

Ingredient experiments she had to conduct also entailed additional time and effort. She tried working with different substances from local and overseas suppliers, but finally decided to stick with imported goods. “It took me a year to find the right materials. I tried those from local online suppliers but they turned out really bad. Currently, we use soy wax and beeswax, sourced from the US. Besides its high quality, we chose soy wax because it has a low melting point, which allows us to mix it with beeswax.”

Smaller candles require less time to make compared with the larger ones, Joee notes. “First, I separate the portion of soy wax and beeswax according to a specific weight before melting them. Then I add dye and a mixture of essential oils and stir until they are well combined under a certain temperature. Lastly, I pour the mixture into moulds — containers used to create various shapes and sizes of candles.”


Self Supply uses soy wax and beeswax for its products

Small candles can be detached from their moulds after three hours while larger ones take up to one day to dry completely. With her sister and brother’s assistance, Joee can make a maximum of 30 candles in one production run. In a week, they are able to produce two batches to accommodate online demand as well as sales at pop-up events around the Klang Valley, which they participate in almost every weekend. 

Each colour represents a different scent. Among the best-selling ones are white, which is a concoction of jasmine, lemongrass and musk, exuding the aroma of a relaxing spa; pink, a pet-friendly option that has a mix of frankincense and lavender; and blue, inspired by Jo Malone’s English Pear and Freesia perfume. Another crowd favourite is from their Go to Bed series, formulated to help people who suffer from insomnia sleep better.

The brand has expanded its offerings to other homeware products, including concrete goods such as trays and dishes as well as mosaic tile furniture that can be used to hold candles or as jewellery organisers. The colours of these products have been carefully chosen to ensure they harmonise with the candles, so customers can easily mix and match them. 

As all creations are 100% handmade, Joee acknowledges they cannot all be perfect or identical. “They are bespoke items, so if there are 10 batches, you cannot expect all 10 to have the exact shade. But we do try to make sure the dye mixture is as similar as possible for every production.”


The brand also branched out to produce homeware, including concrete trays and dishes

While it is hard to get locals to understand the value of handmade products, collaborating with brands that have been in the business for a long time earns Self Supply the exposure it needs. “We had people saying,  ‘I can buy this for RM10, why do I want to buy yours at RM30?’ But collaborations with friends and brands have really helped direct us to the right audience who love handmade local brands.”

Self Supply has partnered Fresh, Three Years Old Café and Wanderlust + Co for a variety of events and it will soon be releasing a collection with Hanya.

Established in July last year, the name Self Supply was inspired by Joee’s mother, “a strong and capable woman who ‘supplies’ everything for herself. Mum is an inspiring figure in our lives”, she says proudly as she shares that customers can expect exciting new collections from the brand soon.

This article first appeared on Sept 19, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.


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