Hobbies are unique things – everyone has something they like to do in their spare time and it’s usually different for everyone.
The more adventurous among us may head outside for hiking or rock climbing, while the homebody rests at home—reading, writing, or even playing.
But the more enterprising among us may find a way to turn these hobbies into businesses, and that’s exactly what these cousins have done with candle making.
Meet Sarah Wee and Cheyenne Naidu who started it Nitwick in 2021. Despite their busy schedules, the two have still found time to start their own business and make almost everything from scratch.
Who says passion doesn’t pay?
Running a business is a lot of work, especially since both Sarah and Cheyenne work full-time in the nonprofit sector. Sarah raises funds for cancer treatment and research at the National Cancer Center in Singapore, and Cheyenne works as a youth counselor at Limitless.
However, they always found time to spend with each other, and when Sarah brought up the idea of starting their own business, Cheyenne was her first choice as a venture partner, as candles were already a common interest between the two.
For a while we toyed with the idea of starting a project or business. It was the combination of wanting to be a little more productive with the time we spent together and getting out of our comfort zone. It started as a project between the two of us, capturing scents that are 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, mixing scents, and breaking down scent profiles.
When they shared what they were doing with their friends and family, they realized that the connotations their scents evoked were not limited to the two of them, and that others often shared that connection.
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’re close to is that you can have fun, but it’s also about hard work.
In fact, creating a single fragrance can be difficult. “Candle making involves a lot of scientific research, it’s a very precise process where we measure temperature, potency and balance the ratio of ingredients,” Sarah explained.
Also, the scents of the combined ingredients can differ from the scents of the individual ingredients, and Sarah and Cheyenne had to test and change the formulas for each candle, and sometimes even restart the entire process.
Of course, there are also pleasant moments, such as when they name their creations together. The products that Nitwick offers have unique names — their best-seller is a candle called Fir Leaves Navidad, a pun on the Spanish Christmas greeting of “Feliz Navidad.”
Other names they’ve come up with include Beaches and Cream and The Grape Gatsby, a homonym of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby
These original and ingenious names are not accidental. Sara and Cheyenne put a lot of thought into these names and it became their way of putting the finishing touches on their creations.
The real deciding factor is that we both have to laugh. We know not everyone gets the joke in every name, but this is just a little Easter egg we have that makes us laugh every time. Of course, it helps to stand out from the crowd. There are so many candle companies out there and it always pays to be different.
– Sarah Wee, Co-Founder of Nitwick
These factors drove results for Nitwick. It broke even in just two months, and Sarah reports that sales increased 400 percent in the last quarter.
The future is bright and smells good
With such huge success, Nitwick has already been approached by several companies to develop signature fragrances for them. One of these is The Dealing Room, a bar and restaurant specializing in luxury whiskeys and wines.
In addition, Nitwick also has a current exhibition at Alter Native, a private dining space by local chef Desmond Shen located on McNair Road.
Sarah and Cheyenne are also already hard at work creating new fragrances. They just launched a new product called Oud La La in collaboration with local potter Ying Zi Ng, better known as Barry Potter.
With Christmas just around the corner, the duo is also planning to launch a special candle collection to be launched in the last quarter of this year.
Currently, Nitwick has only listed its products on its website and another e-commerce site, Whyte Space. As such, he is keen to explore more partnerships and opportunities with other firms.
“Fragrance development is the best part of Nitwick and being able to work with different brands and spaces for that would be great. We would really like to do more with local artists,” Sarah said.
After all, Nitwick’s founders are proof that one’s work doesn’t have to mean doing something you think is pointless. It can be something you enjoy wholeheartedly and still help 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 it.”
“Every challenge is just a puzzle that we have to solve in order to move forward,” Sarah concluded.
Featured Image Credit: Nitwick
How these S’porean cousins are making dollars and ‘scents’ with their candle-making venture