Candles light the way for Towela

Fitzgerald Munyoro

When Towela Tembo mixed the ingredients for scented candles for the very first time in 2021, she didn’t know that candle making was going to be her doorway into the vast and colourful world of the creative arts.

Since then, she has made candles for clients across the length and breadth of Zimbabwe and beyond.

Along the way she has founded an initiative she calls Spiritual Wellness, a mantra that personifies a truth she carries with her every day: that something as simple as a scent has the power to create a unique experience for the individual.

Ironically, Towela’s candle making story is not a result of some deep seated passion but is rather a case of expediency.

She says tough circumstances during her final year at a Canadian university demanded that she find a side hustle to bolster her earnings.

“I was at school in Canda and I completed my studies a year ago. However a year before I finished, I realized that my earnings were too stagnant. They weren’t growing and I wasn’t doing anything. Being so far away from home made it worse “

She says that a chance encounter with a post on Instagram changed her life.

“One day I was scrolling through Instagram and I came across a post that said side hustles you can do to get money and one for them was making candles. So I thought that I should try it out.

“I had never made a candle before in my life so I started researching more on the subject. I would spend a lot of hours on the internet just looking up information on how I can make candles.”said Tembo.

Unlike most fairytale stories, her initial attempts to make candles were disastrous.

“The first 2 months I attempted many times to make candles and somehow I was failing.I would give my  university roommates and I would get negative reviews.

“However I did not give up and I kept going at it until I got the formula right.I sold them to fellow college students.I said if they don’t work ,you may return them.

Fortunately second time was a charm and I got such positive feedback.

Towela says she grew her clientele beyond the confines of university and started selling her scented candles to the Zimbabwean diaspora community in Canada.

“It was at that point that I really started to customize my scents.I started infusing my candles with scents that were reminiscent of Zimbabwean and Africa at large.”

When she finished school she decided to bring her budding side hustle back home.

However, locally she says she has faced a number of challenges.

Tembo says a high number of raw materials she uses are imported and the cost of buying them is quite steep.

“I get the jars from China.The fragrances I get from Canada,USA and South Africa and the wood is from the USA.Most of the things I use are imported so that is a bit of a challenge from me.

Locally is it quite difficult to buy things online as compared to when I started in Canada.I also had difficulties finding a market locally”said Tembo.

As a way of circumventing that challenge, Towela has partnered with a number of retail outlets which gives a her scented candles a larger market.

In Southern Africa, the candle market seems to be going through a boom.

Economic projections  say Southern African Development Community (SADC) Candle Market size was valued at USD 16,553.24 Thousand in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 23,492.27 Thousand by 2028, growing at a rate of 4.63% from 2020 to 2028.

Analysts attribute the high growth projections to increased load shedding in the region.

The region is experiencing severe load shedding since 2008 and has reached stage 6 shedding. This is according to a report published by The International Energy Agency (IEA),

A candle is a wax block with a wick placed in it. When ignited, it provides light and heat, as well as the occasional release of a scent.

Candles are commonly classified as home accessories in the Home Decoration and Home Textiles (HDHT) sector.

There are three different kinds of candles; basic candles,container candles and fancy candles.

It is in the last category that scented candles are found.

The major purpose of a candle, traditionally, has been to produce ambience with its light, heat, and aroma. 

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