Mini Eddy Karthedath’s ‘Crotons’ specialises in candles. From frosted ones to those with printed pictures and quotes on them and even aroma candles, innovation is Mini’s forte

Mini Eddy Karthedath had a love for the arts and craft from the time she can remember. Whether it was learning to arrange flowers artistically or painting on fabric, Mini was always engaged in creative pursuits. She was introduced to the world of candle making while learning to do floral arrangements. She began making fancy candles for friends and relatives. Today Mini’s decorative candles make it to birthdays, weddings, baptisms and Holy Communion functions and are a hot favourite as souvenirs to mark special occasions.

Mini began candle making as a hobby. Like a typical homemaker for whom family comes above personal interest she gave up her fad for two years to tend to her ailing mother and mother-in-law. In 2009 she, once again, along with her older daughter Nirmala, began candle making in a professional way.

A rocky start

Her first experience was one of failure, she recalls with a smile. It was an order for 500 candles from a friend who wished to gift decorative candles as thank-you gifts at her daughter’s wedding. Excited at the order Mini and Nirmala began making candles in earnest.

When 250 frosted candles were done delicately with roses they received the call for cancellation.

The reason — the price with packaging was too high! “We were shocked and dejected. But my sister egged my mother to carry on,” says Amala, her younger daughter, about the incident. “In a way it was a good beginning because it emboldened us to try and market the product we had.” It was then that the mother-daughter duo began to think seriously in terms of business.

They identified stores in the city that would stock their product. Carmel Centre and Catholic Centre, two stores near the Basilica in Ernakulam, readily accepted their candles. Two others — Mar Louis and St Paul’s — too wished to stock their candles. She found that her candles were moving quickly off the shelves. A store, Madonna even asked her why she took so long to come with her wares.

“We specialise in frosted, decorative candles that can be used as offering during mass, for wedding and funeral functions, christening ceremonies and such,” says Mini who started receiving orders from the nearby towns of Pala, Kollam and Thrissur. Gauging the need for her candles in church activities, Mini approached Velankanni Basillica and received orders from them. Recently Shalom TV online store approached them for their products and confabulations are on.

With a sound marketing network in place, Mini began innovations in her basic frosted candles. She, along with her daughter and son- in- law, introduced digital printing on them.

“Clients ask for wedding photograph, quotes or special words to be printed on candles,” recalls Mini who recently did a large order for Federal Bank NRI Meet where her candles made it as centre piece for all tables. She also did a two feet high red candle for World Heart Day celebrations held by the Little Flower Hospital in Angamaly.

Perfumed and aroma candles are next on her innovation list but that will increase the price, says Mini. Her modus operandi is simple. All hands to the pump is how the family works. When an order arrives, everyone gets to work under Mini’s direction. She plans the design.

A delicate process

A mould takes nearly six hours to set; she says adding that the flowers are all handmade. The frosting is a fluffing-up-wax process, which gives a snowy appearance and feel. Most of her ingredients are sourced from Bangalore though at times she picks up decorations locally. The candles range from Rs. 60 to 2,000 depending on different factors.

She retails her designer candles through a Facebook page named ‘Crotons’, the name of a plant that her father-in-law loved.

Now the business has grown bigger with many orders from abroad. Mini says she has only become more organised. “We do the purchasing, processing and packaging all ourselves, there is so much joy in a family working together,” she says looking with pride at her daughters and her husband who supports the venture by the family women.