Why scented candles are breaking gender barriers

The expansion of the luxury home fragrance market is giving Kenyans more choices. Scented candles have now found a permanent spot in many homes. Which do you prefer? Where do you keep it? How do you choose the right household scent?

Of the air that we breathe at home, part of it comprises unpleasant scents. A pleasing scent stimulates good memories and emotions. Candles, scent diffusers, incense sticks and plug-ins emit interesting and subtle fragrances.

Emily Wambui, the owner of AFrily Scented candles says the demand for scented candles has gone higher in the past few years, with both genders now buying them.

“I thought of starting a business that is pocket-friendly and environment-friendly. When I started selling scented candles, they weren’t popular in Kenya. That was in 2019. But now the business is common, everyone knows about it, both men and women are buying them and I deliver countrywide. I also sell on wholesale,” she says.

What is pushing up demand?

For some, burning a candle makes us feel like we have a fire crackling next to us even in our small apartments which do not have a fireplace. Or just maybe it is the fact that scent is so tightly woven into the essence of the holiday season. Some enjoy candles because they like to see flickering flames in a room.

Many people have started appreciating scented candles because they like when it smells good at home, and it is very personal to them, everybody likes personalising their spaces which is why they are preferring these candles.

Scented candles are now widely available, from inexpensive supermarket versions to top names that sell for more than Sh6,000 a piece.

Sheila Wawire is a lover of scented candles. It is a must-buy item every month or so.

“I started using scented candles in 2020 during the lockdown. I learned about them from social media when I saw an influencer buying them. Now I love how the scent fills my space, and you can always smell it when you open our apartment gate. I love any candles with chamomile, lemon, and rosemary scent. They make my house feel warm,” she says.

There are different scents in the market. For instance, cananga odorata, which are sweet, exotic and floral flowers promote feelings of joy and ease.

Jasmine improves positive feelings and energy levels, and peppermint enhances focus and improves memory. If you are looking for something to calm your anxiety, burn candles that have hints of rosemary, lemon, chamomile, and geranium.

At AFrily Scented Candles, Ms Wambui sells four different types of candles; The Pendo summer fruits and extra berry splash, Tamu salted caramel and macadamia scents, Dondoo ya vanilla of pure vanilla, and Raha of sweet cinnamon and baked banana cake scent that range from Sh800 to Sh5,400 depending in the size and if it is one or a pack of four.

“I have candles with different ingredients and scents such as mixed berries and berry splash, salted caramel and macadamia, cinnamon, baked bananas, vanilla, caramel, coffee, and summer fruits,” she says.

But many wonder, are scents inherently to be either feminine or masculine, or is fragrance genderless?

“There is a misconception that men do not like candles, let alone scented candles, which is not true. We have customers who are men. And everybody has their taste, but I usually recommend vanilla scented candles to men since a majority don’t like the floral, sweet scents,” she says.

For the living room, go for pure vanilla or the berry splash. For the kitchen, pick cinnamon and for the bedroom, just like music, colour and light, scent can enhance a room’s atmosphere.

Fragrance has a strange, mystical power and memories are easily conjured at the merest whiff of a familiar scent. Ms Wambui advises you pick salted caramel and macadamia for the bedroom.

Are there specific scents candle for hot and cold seasons?

“Not really. There is nothing like specific scents for the cold and hot seasons. The good thing is the scented candle help keep you warm, especially during this cold season in addition to giving a soothing effect,” she says.

But here is the trick, before you burn the candle, always trim the wick because the wick length is a kind of goldilocks variable that can swiftly cut the life of your candle short.

Especially with larger candles, which provide more surface area for drifting, a cut wick length will ensure a straighter burn. Trim it right before you burn it every time you use it.

“Before burning the candles make sure you trim the wick, that’s the secret that will let it burn for three hours to four hours,” says Ms Wambui.

“Scented candles are essential as they help in stabilising the mind. They reduce stress, ease fatigue and also enable the home to smell amazing. My favourite is vanilla scent,” she says.

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