Photo above Liam Foldi and the team at the Kenshi Candles workshop.
Burning brightly is the social enterprise Kenshi Candles, the creation of young spark 17-year-old Liam Foldi. In its first 3 years Kenshi Candles has managed to raise over $50,000 for charities whilst employing Chin refugees from Myanmar.
Kenshi Candles has grown rapidly in the past few years, graduating from a solo kitchen operation to a business which employs a dedicated workforce.
We spoke to Liam Foldi about the rise and rise of Kenshi Candles.
“I started in the kitchen and moved down to the garage just in the family home. Then we were introduced to the Chin refugee community who are from Myanmar and were forced to flee from their homes around 10 years ago. Now they make the candles in St Albans and its able to provide them with an income,” said Liam.
“The giving back is central to what Kenshi candles is all about: actually using the money people spend on candles to make a difference,” he said.
The candles can either be bought online or through a number of associated charities, effectively turning them into their own social businesses.
“Charities can sell the candles and make use of their supporter base, by making use of the money which people spend on gifts, charities can raise money for their cause without actually having to ask for donations.”
Profits support organisations such as FareShare which provides 3kg of pasta for each candle sold for those in Melbourne experiencing food insecurity and Angel Presence school in Manilla which provides education for underprivileged kids.
In a saturated candle market with scores of vendors across Australia, Kenshi Candles hedges its bets on quality and its social outcomes which separates itself from the competition.
“A lot of candles are made in China and are imported, which are slapped together but ours being hand poured in Melbourne with natural soy wax, have cotton wicks and high-grade fragrance oils which are well researched. All the best materials are going into the candles which is why everyone loves them so much.”
Whilst not always smooth sailing, Kenshi Candles has been able to utilise its social aspect to give it a point of difference to be able to connect with customers.
“At the start I was pretty naïve about it, I thought it would be pretty easy to pour some wax into a jar and make a candle, but I quickly found out that there was a fair bit more to it… actually selling them is the main problem, at first I assumed I’d make a website and people would just jump on and buy them, but I quickly found out that that wasn’t the case.”
Like many social enterprises finding channels to the market has been a challenge for Kenshi Candles. Both customers and charities like Empower have been able to access the life changing candles through Dinidae.
“Dinidae has been working really well and it’s good to have orders coming through.”
By generating a bulk order between Kenshi candles and Empower; a charity that combats human trafficking, a double impact is produced.
The potential of Kenshi candles and socially conscious shopping is certainly not lost on Liam.
“When I started one of the main things I looked up was the amount of money in Australia which we spend every year on candles, it’s in the tens of millions of dollars. If all that were being spent through social enterprises, the amount of money we could raise and the difference we could make would be absolutely massive.”
Liam, who is currently completing his VCE has to split his time between Kenshi Candles and school.
“School can be a bit of a stretch sometimes; it comes down to being efficient with your time. With our partnership with the Chin community its able to run efficiently… I’ll definitely whip out the laptop and being doing emails and stuff at school.”
You can visit Kenshi candles store on Dinidae and purchase one of their beautiful, life-changing candles.
For more of these life changing products with incredible stories head to Dinidae.com