Pioneer in the production of scented candles in Nepal


Pragya Chitrakar has always been fascinated by the works of her parents. Her mother sewed clothes while her father loved Paubha paintings, the traditional family occupation of the clan. Clothes and designs have always fascinated a young Chitrakar from his earliest childhood.

As a teenager, she had already started dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur. But it took him many years to combine his fascination with artistic work and the entrepreneurial dream. Simrik Design Studio, a fashion design studio that offers minimalist clothing and a variety of lifestyle products, including unique handmade candles, is the result of this combination.

Fascination for entrepreneurship

By the time Chitrakar finished her 10th year, she was sure she wanted to enter the fashion industry. Therefore, she joined A-Level as well as a fashion degree course immediately after her 10th year.

After completing her A-Level, she joined Namuna College of Fashion Technology to pursue a bachelor’s degree in fashion. “There, I had the chance to do an internship in a company, where I had real exposure to lifestyle products. While working there, I learned that Nepalese products can be so exclusive, ”says Chitrakar.

She then went to Bangalore, India to pursue her Masters. “Back from India, I worked with companies that export Nepalese products, including pashmina. It broadened my exposure and my understanding of fashion and design, ”Chitrakar shares.

Finally, in 2015, she launched her own Simrik Design Studio using the basement of his house. She started her studio by investing around Rs 300,000 with two employees. Four years later, she moved the studio to Jwagal.

“As my father does Paubha paintings, I incorporate this into my design using subtle and neutral colors, organic Nepalese fabric (hemp, cotton and linen), hand embroidery. I take a minimalist approach to the style and visual display of each outfit, ”says Chitrakar of the essence of his brand.

Constantly expanding company

During the early days, Chitrakar only made clothes. She then noticed that a lot of textile waste is generated in the process and wondered how she could use it.

“We initially threw away all of this fabric waste, but later we started giving it to collectors. At the same time, a few concept stores were starting in Jhamsikhel and its surroundings, ”she explains. others.”

At the time, she was new to the business; she said she didn’t understand the market well enough. Therefore, there were many challenges. “Sometimes the products that we (entrepreneurs / designers) like are not appreciated by customers, probably because we are ahead of our time as we are usually influenced by foreign concepts,” she continues. “I also struggled with the costs and my design was copied without proper accreditation by the big manufacturing companies.

Nonetheless, Chitrakar says she has kept her studio growing steadily. In the process, she says she kept thinking about other possible products and adding different products, including jewelry.

See an opportunity in the crisis

In the meantime, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world in early 2020, but some entrepreneurs have made it an opportunity. Chitrakar was one of them.

“Containment gave me the opportunity to explore different product ideas. I was addicted to my job and couldn’t sit idle, ”she recalls,“ I always had a scented candle lit in my room. Therefore, I tried to make scented candles myself to kill my time. I used the silicone cupcake mold and tried to make a candle. It went well.

Side by side, she also researched candle makers in Nepal, as she sensed the potential of the scented candle market. Fortunately, she found such a manufacturer, spoke with him, and then collaborated on the production.

Initially, Chitrakar says they used a unique aroma in candles among vanilla, lavender, rose, and many others. But after some trial and error, Simrik Design Studio produced scented candles with vanilla, lavender, rose and other mixed flavors. She also started making botanical candles using real petals and leaves of dried flowers.

By leveling up, she and the maker also experimented a lot with jars and glass.

The price of these candles varies between Rs 200 and Rs 800. She says. “There are people who find these candles expensive. There are also people who buy them with pleasure. We have a niche market; there are very few who understand herbs and scents and their value.

Additionally, the challenges with producing candles are that the price of wax fluctuates a lot and it directly affects the price of candles, according to Chitrakar.

Hope higher amid challenges

There are different types of waxes used to make candles. The most common is paraffin wax and it is cheap, but many think it is not healthy enough. Soy wax is comparatively very healthy because it is completely organic. However, it is not readily available in Nepal and also costs double the amount of paraffin wax.

“Plus, we depend on imports even for the smallest things like cotton and wood wicks, bases and colors. Therefore, sourcing materials for production becomes so difficult.

According to Chitrakar, many people in Nepal are sensitive to colors. It may also be due to cultural aspects. Therefore, Nepalese generally do not understand or like subtle colors.

Also, after the confinement, the purchasing habits of customers changed a lot. People lost their jobs, became aware of sustainability, and the gap between haves and have-nots widened.

“It has also affected our consumer base. Therefore, we focus on affordable yet sustainable Nepalese products. People don’t understand the concept of design either and are therefore reluctant to pay for it, ”she says.

Yet, gradually overcoming these obstacles, Chitrakar says: “We have not reached the stage of maturity because it takes time for brand recognition. Nonetheless, I want to further expand my studio and introduce more luxury items.


Joseph E. Golightly