Meet the Maker: Sean Blishen of Kilig Candle Co.

1. I think the story of how you started making candles is so cool – right down to starting Kilig in your parents’ kitchen. Were there any other growing pains of starting a business completely grass-roots style? To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing when I started Kilig so you could say there were a couple of growing pains to sort out haha! I don't have much business experience and wasn't sure how to execute my business. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was create sustainable self-care products. As time went on I slowly but surely started to learn the ropes of a small business owner and I'm proud to say that I figured most of it out! My biggest growing pain would definitely had to be when I realized that I couldn't make candles on my mom's stove anymore and needed to find a more appropriate space for my passion.

2. One of my favourite things about what you do is your dedication to giving back and helping children in the Philippines through your candles. I think a lot of people would be super curious to know how this works and how you got started with this! My Filipino roots are very important to me! From the time I was little, my mom and grandma always shared with me what it was really like for them in the Philippines and what they had to do to get to Canada. My mom worked her butt off while she was still living in the Philippines by doing small jobs like making flower arrangements, helping her neighbours with tasks, and then eventually was able to apply to be a nanny in Singapore. After many years of saving every penny she could, she moved to Canada to start a better life for her and her family and eventually sponsored my grandma and uncle while starting her healthcare career. My mom's upbringing and hard work is what inspired me to find a way to bring change to the Philippines. After doing some research, I found Canadian non-profit, Adhika. Adhika runs their School Feeding Program which helps to provide meals to impoverished children in the Philippines while they attend school. Some people may not be aware, but choosing between school and feeding your family is an ultimatum met by a lot of Filipino families out there. Children have to choose if they will work to provide food for themselves and their families or to go to school without food in their bellies. By contributing to Adhika's School Feeding Program, we are creating an incentive for these children to come to school and get an education to better their futures while feeding them. Since Adhika started this program, they have had 12 graduating classes which is incredible. Since starting our candle for a meal donation this Spring, we have been able to donate over 5000 meals and can't wait to contribute more.

3. We know you aren’t biased, BUT – do you have a favourite candle scent? Oh this is a hard one! It honestly depends what mood I'm in and the weather outside. If I had to choose only one, I would say Pillow Talk! It's sultry, cozy, and has a hint of sweetness.

4. Something that a lot of people probably don’t know about you, is that you are not only the founder and CEO, but also the candle maker, shipper, customer service rep, and wearer of many business hats within Kilig! So, one question: How. Do. You. Do. It. LOTS. OF. CAFFEINE. But for real, I don't know how. I'm lucky that a few months ago I was able to hire a great team of women who help me but we're so busy I think that we need more help!

5. We’ve got to ask the expert: What is the number one mistake people make when burning candles? People not trimming their wicks! I can't stress this enough, trim your wicks and your candle will last much longer and have a cleaner burn!

6. When you aren’t working (we realize this might not happen much), what are your favourite ways to relax and unwind outside of candle making? Whenever I get the chance to unwind or have some "me time" I love spending time with my puppy Pepe and my partner. We love going on adventures and taking Pepe to the beach to play fetch! I also like trying out new restaurants, taking relaxing baths with a bath bomb, and watching horror movies (yes, I know the last one might not be relaxing for most people, haha!).

7. Last question: What has been the most impactful, or memorable moment in your business since you first launched Kilig? Other than being able to provide the meals to the children in the Philippines, I would have to say meeting so many wonderful people through Kilig has been the most special for me. I'm so grateful to have so many new and meaningful

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