Interview with the Bookish Candle Queen of India – Afia Vasaiwala
Hey Afia! Thank you for agreeing to doing this. I’m honoured to start my ‘The Tycoon Thirteenth Talks’ where I interview small business entrepreneurs regarding their journey with you.
Having tried a fair amount of bookish candles, I can vouch that you make the most authentic and hands down the best candles among the Indian vendors. Thank you for bringing them to us.
Let’s begin with the interview!
Q. We obviously know her as an amazing candle maker who also frequently gives us a chance to bag a piece of the other innumerable talents that she has but setting all that aside, who is Afia Vasaiwala?– AnM
Anu, you flatter me too much, but I’m glad you asked. My Psych teacher once told me that I am not the talents I have, but rather my thoughts and feelings (I have this pinned up on my vision board as a reminder). Aside from her random bursts of creativity, Afia is a person whose thoughts run deep, and whose emotions flow like a river in her brain. Unfortunately, these are most often trapped in my skull, except when they overflow into my journal. I consider myself an empath, and a good listener.– Afia Vasaiwala
Q. Were you always creative? Or was this something you ventured into as you grew up?-AnM
According to my mother, I wasn’t always the most creative. She used to be the one to finish my creative assignments for me, so I guess I watched her and learnt them skills. I was always a stationery hoarder though with the full support of my parents who also used to proxy hoard for me, so I usually had any materials I needed on hand to craft along with my favourite, Mister Maker!– Afia Vasaiwala
Q. I have seen you making candles, coasters, stickers, journaling, holographic labels for several items while also clicking aesthetic pictures of them. You’ve designed your own website too. What else am I missing here? Please finish the list of your talents for us?– AnM
I seem to be getting a lot of practice in the art of blushing while I get through your questions, so I guess I can list that as a talent now? My other talents include being a master of procrastination, to keep up with the candor of the interview. I always do stuff at the last minute and somehow still get by life – issa real talent.– Afia Vasaiwala
Q. Coming to the process of candle making, how tiring is acquiring the raw materials? How important it is to you that you want the ones that are the most environment friendly?– AnM
Omg THIS!!! This question can send me into a wild rant mode, but I will spare you the details. When I was first considering Whispering Flames, I remember making at least 10 phone calls a day trying to find stuff, and then dealing with these manufacturers while pretending to be an adult (I was only 16 then) was exhausting.
A few months ago, I realised I was being decieved by a manufacturer, due to which I had to start the entire process again. I am very particular about the wax I use, and I am glad I finally found a manufacturer who shares my ideals when it comes to quality control.– Afia Vasaiwala
Environment friendly and chemical free wax is so important. We’re already constantly breathing in harmful fumes, I don’t want to contribute to that. Or kill people. Or myself. So yes, natural soy wax is a MUST for me.
Q. How do you stumble upon ideas for the fragrances in and colours? Do you have to put in elaborate thoughts into each fragrance that you make? Or does it just click? Or a little bit of both?– AnM
Well, as you rightly said, I simply stumble upon them. I have two methods when it comes to brainstorming. I either blend a fragrance in advance, and then wait for a name to click, or decide a name first and then blend a fragrance accordingly.
A lot of the times, the combinations just come to me naturally (especially when they’re food based – those are my favourite kind of fragrances), but if I’m working with a new to me fragrance or an oil that doesn’t always mix well with others, it takes time and patience to create a good blend. This is when the chemist in me comes out :P.– Afia Vasaiwala
Q. You’ve made mental health candles and with the amount of information you give us, it is clear that you’ve put in a lot of research into those candles and they are something that a lot of us are thankful for. How did you come up with the idea? Was it a suggestion?– AnM
Well, as a future therapist, it would be hypocritical of me to not care about mental health. I still feel we don’t talk about our mental health enough, and I wish, with all my heart that this changes soon. I had a run in with major anxiety and panic attacks a little more than a year ago, which is when I decided that I did not want anyone else to think they were alone. And that it was okay if they felt a certain way. If a Whispering Flames candle could be that reminder they needed, then why not? I’d always read about essential oils used for calming oneself, which then launched into research, and voila! In May 2019, we had our first mental health collection. I was kind of skeptical, but we did really well with those! I want to release more and more, but unfortunately, the blending of the oils to make them effective is a tricky process, and there are only the few essential oils that can be used for the same.– Afia Vasaiwala
Q. If there was a candle named ‘AFIA’, what would the fragrance, colour and label be like? Will it be holo? Will it have any special additions?– AnM
Ah, I like this question. The colour would definitely be a baby blue, with a pastel galaxy label (with a meme, wouldn’t be an Afia candle without a meme). When it comes to the fragrances, I think I would add salted caramel, because I can be super salty but also super sweet, some apples for the tang, some spices for the, well, spice and buttery biscuit for the warmth. Basically, I guess I’m an apple pie? With lots of holo star glitter sprinkled over it.– Afia Vasaiwala
Q. Since we have ventured into the topic of holo, if I have to make a meme on you, I’d be like..
Me: Afia, how much holo do you want ?
So, how did this obsession with all thing holographic start?– AnM
LOL, I need a minute to giggle this out. Ok so, yes, I do love me some holo, but not all the holo. I can’t imagine carrying a holo bag or wearing holo clothes – but holo foiled stickers for my planner? SIGN ME UP. I just feel like it’s such a versatile foil, goes with everything and jazzes everything up. How can you NOT like holo?– Afia Vasaiwala
Q. Assume that you are in a do or die situation and have to chose between journaling and candle making, which one would you choose and why?– AnM
This question really reminds me how much I hate making decisions. After an eternity of thinking, I guess I’d choose journalling because it is something I only do for myself. As I mentioned earlier, my thoughts and emotions overflow many a times, which makes my planners and journals essential for my sanity.– Afia Vasaiwala
Q. What’s the best part about all this? The creative part where you are making everything, the excitement of the items being sold out or the reception?– AnM
My two favourite bits are the initial creative process, and when the orders reach you guys. I love receiving feedback messages, they invoke this flutter in my heart – even after three years.– Afia Vasaiwala
Q. Is candle making something you see yourself doing in your future too? Or like all good things, will this come to an end?– AnM
I’d say that this will come to an end, but this wasn’t supposed to last more than three months, and here we are, three years in. This isn’t my final career goal, but who knows what the future holds?– Afia Vasaiwala
Q. What new items are you planning on surprising us with next? Can we get a peep? Or atleast a clue?– AnM
Wait, I need a peep too!! Will I seem completely wild if I tell you I plan my releases literally a day or two in advance? My reps can vouch for this, hehe. However, I’ve been reading a lot of contemporaries and witchy books and am starting the Grisha trilogy, also listening to a lot of audio books. That’s more than a hint 😉– Afia Vasaiwala
Let’s do a Bookish Rapid Fire!
All time favourite book?
The Night Circus!
This, I can’t decide.
None at the moment.
Your first book?
My parents gifted me a set of fairy tales with my name as the princesses in them for my 3rd birthday, probably not my first book, but the first that I remember.
The book you’ve made the most candles from?
Harry potter, of course!
A book you’ve read the most number of times?
The night circus – 5 times and counting!
This or That!
Physical copies or Audiobooks?
Night circus or The Starless Sea?
The Night Circus.
Reading at night or reading during the day?
Reading at night, always! Just seems right
Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Thank you Afia! For agreeing to this! For being the creative genius that lets the Indian booknerds feel less left out by giving us your candles! For being a young woman entrepreneur who am sure is an inspiration to several others! We need more people like you.
Check out Afia’s Instagram page by clicking on the following text : @whisperingflames
If you are a journaling fanatic, she has you covered and you can see her updates of her various journals on @whispering_books
To visit her site click on the following link:
I will be back with another tycoon on the 13th of next month! Until then, stay home and stay safe. While you’re at it stay hydrated and be kind to one another!