Living through a pandemic introduced an array of uncertainties in everyone’s lives. Despite the ambiguity of this last year, plenty of inspirational entrepreneurs managed to start new businesses. Brandon Leung, the founder and owner of the artisanal soy candle shop, Baisun Candle Co., is a perfect example of this impressive undertaking.
Brandon went to school for hospitality business management but eventually pivoted his career towards digital marketing by specializing in SEO. Like many others, Brandon was laid off from his job due to the pandemic. This hiccup in his career did not stop Brandon from moving on to bigger and better endeavors. He took a chance and started Baisun Candle Co. to sell hand-made candles inspired by nostalgic aromas of Asian cultures. From the familiar smell of chrysanthemum tea to childhood memories of White Rabbit candy, Brandon captures many unforgettable Asian scents in his candles.
From hobby to business
So why did Brandon choose to get into the candle-making business? In the summer of 2020, Brandon lost his day job and decided to pick up a new skill during the pandemic. One day he came across a video teaching the ins and outs of making a candle. Brandon mentions, “I've always wanted to hand-make gifts whenever it was time for the holidays or birthdays, so I thought this would be a good opportunity!” By leveraging the skills he has developed over the years, Brandon soon started Baisun Candle Co.
The origins of Baisun Candle Co.’s name
“In Cantonese, Bai Sun means to pray/worship the gods” or “honor your ancestors,” explains Brandon. “I wanted to pay homage to the traditions and culture my grandparents passed down to me while relearning my own cultural identity. Many of our scents are inspired by the smells I’d encounter while spending my summers in Hong Kong as a child.”
The inspiration for Baisun Candle Co.
Baisun Candle Co. draws inspiration from two sources: their community and their community’s memories of the quintessential “Asian-centric scents” they grew up with. The company strives “to learn as much about other Asian cultures outside of [their] Chinese heritage” and shares these diverse experiences with others through their candles. Brandon adds that “the joy and curiosity from our supporters are what inspires [him] to do better.”
On owning a business as an Asian American
“My identity as an Asian American is the backbone of the brand and business. Instead of being reserved about my culturally Chinese background, this is my way of being ‘unapologetically Asian’ with the hope to help others reconnect with their own cultural identity.”
One challenge Brandon faces as a business owner
Thankfully, Brandon feels “very blessed to have had a smooth start to this small business.” The biggest hurdle he currently faces is overcoming imposter syndrome, especially as Baisun Candle Co. is his first business venture. Luckily Brandon has met many seasoned entrepreneurs who have helped ease his worries by “validat[ing his] emotions and experiences.”
A day in the life of a candlemaker
“My days are pretty sporadic nowadays; however, Vietnamese Coffee in the morning — always. I’ll usually line up all my orders for the day the night before they go out. I’ll make my way to the Postal Office where I can expect my daily side-eye from the employees behind the counter. It really just depends on what priorities need to get finished first before I tackle more on.”
Share a success story with us
“With the recent climate of events and the rise in Asian American Hate crimes, I was able to fundraise for Hate is a Virus”, a non-profit organization dedicated to dismantling racism and other forms of hate. “At the beginning of my birthday week, I told myself I’d be happy if I could donate even just $1,000. Within 3 days, we were able to raise over $5,000, all of which would be donated to Hate is a Virus to help raise awareness.” What a birthday present, indeed!
Advice to someone looking to start a small business
“Just do it.” It is as simple as that. Brandon recognizes that many of us have great ideas, but “analysis paralysis” stops us from even trying. Instead, execute your idea until “someone brings up a better suggestion.” Implementing great ideas also means giving yourself the grace “to be vulnerable and transparent. If you have a great product or idea, people will gravitate towards it naturally.”
What Brandon hopes to turn into reality
“One dream I have for Baisun Candle Co. is that I’d love to have our candles in every Chinatown in the U.S. (for now). I’d like to be able to provide jobs to those where English may not be their first language. I'd also love to travel back to Hong Kong to reconnect with the culture and source for local products there. I low-key also want my candles to be flashed on Season 2 of Bling Empire.”
The pandemic threw us all a curveball, but folks around the world found ways to make the most of it. Resolved individuals like Brandon motivates us all to make the most out of our situations, remember our roots, and take a leap of faith in our brilliant ideas. For more information, please visit https://baisuncandleco.com/