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How these S’porean cousins are making dollars and ‘scents’ with their candle-making venture

Hobbies are unique things — everyone has something that they enjoy doing duiring their off time, and more often than not, it’s different for everyone.

The more adventurous of us might head outside for hikes or rock climbing, while the homebodies relax at home — reading, writing, or even gaming.

But the more entrepreneurial among us might find a way to turn these hobbies into a business, and that is what these cousins did with their candle making. 

Meet Sarah Wee and Cheyenne Naidu, who started Nitwick in 2021. Despite their busy schedule, the two have still found time to create their own business, and make almost everything from scratch.

Who says passion doesn’t pay?

Running a business is a lot of work, especially so since both Sarah and Cheyenne work full-time in the non-profit sector. Sarah raises funds for cancer care and research at the National Cancer Centre Singapore, and Cheyenne works as a youth counsellor at Limitless.

Despite this, they always found time to spend with each other, and when Sarah proposed the idea of starting their own business, Cheyenne was her first choice for a partner in the endeavour as candles were already a shared interest between the two.

Image Credit: Nitwick

We toyed with the idea of starting a project or business for a while. It was the combination of wanting to be a little bit more productive with the time we spent together and getting out of our comfort zone. It started out as a project between the both of us, capturing scents that were specific to our shared experiences.

– Sarah Wee, co-founder of Nitwick

To that end, they began delving into how to actually create their own candles: experimenting with different scents, blending fragrances, and breaking down scent profiles.

When they shared what they were doing with their friends and family, they realised that the connotations that their scents evoked were not limited to the two of them, and that others often shared that connection as well.

So in June 2021, they finally launched Nitwick to sell scented candles, wax sculptures, and more.

Enjoying the creative journey

One benefit of working on passion projects with someone you are close to means having fun, but it also entails hard work.

In fact, creating a single scent can be difficult. “Candle-making involves a lot of science, it is a very precise process where we’re measuring temperature, potency and balancing a ratio of ingredients,” explained Sarah.

On top of this, the scents of combined ingredients can differ from the scents of individual ingredients, and Sarah and Cheyenne had to test and tweak formulas for each candle, and sometimes even restart the entire process.

Of course, there are enjoyable moments as well, like when they name their creations together. The products that Nitwick puts out have unique names — their top seller is a candle called Fir Leaves Navidad, a pun on the Spanish Christmas greeting of ‘Feliz Navidad’. 

Other names that they have come up with include ‘Beaches & Cream’, and ‘The Grape Gatsby’, a homonym of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel ‘The Great Gatsby’

Nitwick candles
Nitwick’s online store / Image Credit: Nitwick

These original and ingenious names are no coincidence. Sarah and Cheyenne put plenty of thought into these names, and it has become their way of putting the finishing touch on their creations. 

The real deciding factor is that we both have to laugh. We know not everyone gets the joke in each name, but it’s just a little easter egg we have that gives us a chuckle each time.Of course, it helps with standing out from the crowd. There are so many candle companies out there and there’s always a benefit in being different.

– Sarah Wee, co-founder of Nitwick

These factors have brought results for Nitwick. It managed to break even in just two months, and Sarah reports that sales have increased by 400 per cent in the last quarter.

The future is bright, and it smells good too

With such resounding success, Nitwick has already been approached by several businesses to develop signature scents for them. One of them is The Dealing Room, a bar and restaurant specialising in luxury whiskeys and wines. 

In addition, Nitwick also has an ongoing exhibition at Alter Native, a private dining space by local chef Desmond Shen, located at McNair Road.

Oud La La. Nitwick's latest product
Nitwick’s Oud La La/ Image Credit: Nitwick

Sarah and Cheyenne are also already hard at work creating new scents. They have just launched a new product, named Oud La La, in collaboration with local potter Ying Zi Ng, better known as BerryPotter.

Given that Christmas is just around the corner, the duo is also planning to release a special candle collection to be launched in the last quarter of this year.

Currently, Nitwick has only listed their products on their website and another e-commerce site Whyte Space. As such, it is keen on exploring more partnerships and opportunities with other businesses.

“Developing fragrances is the best part of Nitwick, and being able to work with different brands and spaces to do that would be great. We would really like to do more with local artists,” expressed Sarah.

At the end of the day, Nitwick’s founders are proof that one’s work does not have to mean slogging away at something you find meaningless. It can very well be something that you wholeheartedly enjoy, and still helps to pay the bills. 

“We both have full-time jobs and running Nitwick at the same time can get overwhelming, but we don’t see the latter as work. It’s just something we do because we’re genuinely interested and invested in this.”

“Every challenge is simply a puzzle we need to solve to move forward,” concluded Sarah.

Featured Image Credit: Nitwick

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