THE sunset candles story
Business owners Rick and Wendy started making candles as a hobby in 1991, to destress after a long day at the office. It was Rick’s childhood memories of wonderful holidays spent on a farm in Africa that kindled a lifelong love for candles.
Discovering that Rick could melt solid wax and reshape it into any form and color, and that Wendy could create innovative designs with which to decorate the candles, opened up endless possibilities. As with most hobbies, there was always the drive to be original and different. What followed was many evenings experimenting with various molds, waxes, unusual shapes, and a wide variety of artwork, in order to develop something truly unique to sell to customers.
An expanding stock and range called for a retail outlet, and joining a few local craft markets was the answer. The first four years (1991 to 1995) proved to be a wonderful learning experience on all aspects of entrepreneurship. The hard work and long hours that Rick and Wendy put in were fueled by a passion for candles and a desire to manage their own business.
A lot of inspiration came from customers directly. Despite their existing ranges already being unique, it was always a desire of theirs to create something that really stood out. A party piece that the business could be known for around the world. In 1995, the Sunset Candle was born.
The flat, disc-shaped candle, 26 centimeters in diameter and blended in a variety of rich colours, offered a unique effect when burning. The flat surface of the candle inspired Wendy to apply hand-painted designs onto the candles. Over the years, the range expanded to various other shapes and sizes, always keeping the focus on originality and African themes.
The range and designs were sought after by both a thriving local market and a foreign tourist market. Over time, exports picked up, and in 1999 it was time for Wendy and Rick to say goodbye to the corporate world and go full-time into the candle business.
With extra time and energy came more ideas. One example is their recycling drive. By purchasing tuna tins from recycling depots, a new candle emerged. The tins are thoroughly cleaned, decorated with hand painted local designs, and filled with wax, to serve as a giant tealight. This product has been decorating homes around the world and burning at dinner tables for over 16 years, and thousands of tuna tins have been re-purposed in this way, helping the environment.
In 2005, while still doing craft markets over weekends as well as exporting their products all over the globe, Sunset Candles opened a store in what was then known as “The Blue Shed,” situated in the V&A Waterfront, a popular tourist destination in Cape Town.
It has always been our aim to inspire like-minded entrepreneurs to start and grow their own business. Such an opportunity came in 2006 when V&A Waterfront management proposed that we open a Co-Operative, selling not only our own candles but also candles made by various candlemakers around the country. Our range would be expanded, and their small businesses would be supported in a new way.
Candles were sourced from around the country - from locations including Gauteng, KZN, and the Garden Route in the Western Cape. The focus always remained on offering customers candles that were unique - something they’d not seen before.
Over time, the business moved back towards its own ranges of candles, and developed new products, based on customer requests as well as internal creativity.
Today, the business’ ranges of candles include;
The flat, disc-shaped original range,
The bowl-shaped Sun Pot range, with included tealights,
A variety of container-based candles, including those made out of metal and glass,
A variety of pillar- and ball-shaped candles, and
Southern African hut-shaped candles.
Being an artisanal candlemaking company, Sunset Candles will always remain flexible and creative. By manufacturing our own candles and applying our own designs onto the products, we can also cater to custom orders. The business is able to supply candles for corporate gifts, personal gifts, as well as occasions such as weddings, birthdays, Bat/Bar Mitzvahs, funerals, Christmas celebrations, anniversaries, and other events. If you have an occasion you’d like to have candles made up for, send us the details.
Through their products, Sunset Candles remains committed to bringing joy and warmth to people’s homes, and to continuing to spread the wonderful concept that is original African creativity around the world.
We invite you to follow along with our business developments on your choice of social media channels.