Sheena Tahilramani turned her passion for candle making into a business
Story by Kamala Kirk | Photo courtesy Banter & Bliss Candle Co.
When Sheena Tahilramani ran a public relations firm, she yearned to send her clients unique holiday gifts that they could enjoy. She decided to start making custom labeled candles, which became an instant hit.
“I didn’t want to send people more candy or chocolates,” Tahilramani says. “Everybody loves candles and I’ve always been crafty, so I learned how to make candles and sent those as gifts. I had a lot of fun making candles as a hobby and eventually left my career to pursue it full time. With my background in public relations and marketing, I figured out how to eventually sell and market them.”
In 2014, Tahilramani started Banter & Bliss Candle Co., which offers handmade candles and candle-making workshops. All of the candles are made at her studio in San Pedro, a World War II warehouse that includes a retail store and workshop space, and Tahilramani has a retail-only location at RUNWAY Playa Vista as well.
“I really like the area,” Tahilramani says. “The community in Playa Vista is very family-oriented and our store is in a great location. I love the creativity and challenge of creating and marketing a product. It’s always fun to see the products come together from beginning to end.”
One of the aspects that customers love most about Banter & Bliss candles are its creative scents that include pineapple cardamom and verbena basil. The popular scents include tabac and amber, a combination of bergamot, golden amber, grapefruit, warm tabac, guaiacwood, clove leaf, veiled musk and oud; and santal muguet, which contains sublet notes of oudwood, sandalwood, patchouli, cedar, washed birch and musk.
The candles are infused with essential oils and made from all-natural coconut soy wax, which offers a cleaner burn than a lot of waxes that are used in the mass candle market, in addition to being free of parabens, phthalates and sulfates.
“People like our minimalistic branding and sophisticated fragrances,” Tahilramani says. “We also maintain reasonable price points because I wanted our products to be accessible to everyone. We ship across the United States and are working on selling wholesale as well.”
Tahilramani is planning to add at least seven new spring and summer fragrances to her collection soon. Tahilramani and her employees always choose the scents together.
“I love every single person that works for me,” Tahilramani says. “They’re all super motivated and hard workers. They’re amazing people that make my life so much easier because they know what needs to get done, especially when I’m super focused on certain tasks.”
In addition to candles, Banter & Bliss also sells reed diffusers, wax melts, room and linen sprays, match bottles, and various other gift and home décor items. As for the name, Tahilramani says that she wanted it to reflect the fun and relaxing vibe of her company.
“Home fragrance products are relaxing to have in your home, and our classes and workshops are where the fun comes in,” Tahilramani says. “We’re not just a candle company, the experience is such a big part of what we do. We offer a lot of group workshops and a candle bar at the studio, and we bring our mobile cart to private events like weddings and bachelorettes.”
During the workshops, Tahilramani leads participants through a scent blending exercise where they get to blend their own fragrance. They also learn about wax, wicks and the candle making process. The candle bar is a more casual activity that is ideal for those that want to come in with someone or on their own to make a candle in an intimate setting.
“It’s a fun activity whether you’re looking for a one-off thing to do with a friend or a date night,” Tahilramani says. “We get a lot of people coming in that are interested in starting candle companies. During the pandemic, a lot of people turned to candle making for fun and to supplement their income.”
When in-person workshops were put on hold due to the pandemic, Banter & Bliss pivoted to virtual events and workshops, which were a huge success.
“I had always wanted to create a candle making kit and pre-COVID we had put them together, then once the pandemic hit, we were ready to start shipping the kits out,” Tahilramani says. “Even though we lost out on weddings and in-person workshops, we picked up a lot of corporate events because companies were looking for things to do that would keep their teams together. Some of our events had between 100 and 200 participants, and we would walk them through the candle making process on Zoom.”
Recently, Tahilramani started offering in-person workshops again at the studio, although reservations are required, and tables are spaced apart for social distancing. For Mother’s Day weekend, Banter & Bliss will host its first events in Playa Vista in partnership with Rooted Harmony, which include candle making and flower or succulent arranging. The cost is between $85 to $110 per person depending on the event and gift boxes are available as add-ons.
“We’ll be offering the workshops outdoors and participants will get to make a candle with me, then while the candle is solidifying, they’ll make a beautiful flower or succulent arrangement,” Tahilramani says. “Everyone will leave with a candle, flower arrangement and a gift box. I’m looking forward to bringing more events to Playa Vista in the future.”
Soon, Tahilramani hopes to further enhance customers’ experience by serving them a glass of wine or beer when they come in for a workshop. Prior to the pandemic, she approached Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell about introducing AB-376, a bill that would allow an exemption for arts and crafts workshops to serve limited amounts of alcohol. O’Donnell introduced the bill in February and it is in legislation.
“I think that will bring a new element of fun to the candle making workshops,” Tahilramani says. “I’m always thinking of news ways to make our clients’ experience with us even better.”
Banter & Bliss Candle Co. 12775 Millennium Drive, B-1, Playa Vista