Melody Lim is the 23-year-old founder and solopreneur of Mala the Brand, a Vancouver based eco-friendly soy candle company that prides itself on creating sustainably scented candles, without sacrificing quality or affordability. In just four short months, Mala has amassed a cult following across North America with her beautiful aesthetics, buy a candle plant a tree model, and focus on educating her audience about sustainable practices. She has also collaborated with highly influential figures such as Emma Rose Leger and Rain or Shine, a notorious ice cream company in Vancouver with three brick and mortar stores. Before founding Mala, Melody was in school completing her communications undergraduate degree while simultaneously working as a marketing manager at a local skincare company.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start Mala the Brand?
My whole brand - and name - comes from my time living abroad in Europe. Having travelled extensively all over Europe, I quickly fell in love with the minimalist, romantic lifestyle of the Europeans: I drew my inspiration from it and the idea stemmed from a local candlemaker in Milos, Greece, who taught me the basics of candle making in his shop. “Mala” itself was a nickname given to me by friends while living in Europe - it means “kiddo” in Croatian.
After returning home and finding many disappointing store-bought candles that were expensive and didn’t throw much smell, I found a candle recipe on Pinterest and decided to make my own. In my quest to create the perfect candle, I fell deeper into my obsession and uncovered a lot of ugly truths about the candle industry. For starters, many store-bought candles are actually made from a nonrenewable source, paraffin, which is actually a by-product of crude oil, and many cotton wicks are laced with lead! It was then that I saw a gap in the market for candles made with toxin-free ingredients that are both chic yet sustainable. Fusing together my passion for sustainability and my love for all things candles, design, and entrepreneurship, Mala the Brand was born.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day looks a little different, but a typical day might look like this:
7:30am - Get up, have breakfast
8:00am- Emails, DMs, Emails
9:00am- Pack orders
12:30pm- Computer work/meetings
5pm - Gym or workout class!
7pm- May or may not still be working until bed (around 11 pm) depending on the day
What was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I had someone once tell me to “not work too hard.” They said that the best thing about being your own boss is being able to delegate everything you don’t like and have them take care of it. I do not fully agree with this. Although yes as you grow, you will inevitably outsource work in the areas that aren’t your specialty, that doesn’t have anything to do with not working hard!
What you put in, is what you get out. I think that most entrepreneurs will tell you with any business, you will be the first one working in the morning and the last one working, especially in the beginning. Since I am still a one-woman team, I have to do everything. If I don’t do it, it just simply won’t get done.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is making a difference to people while doing what I love. It’s more of a state of mind where i feel the exhilaration of knowing that i was able to make a difference to someone’s life or was able to inspire someone else. I like to call Mala a heart-centered business that operates with the earth in mind, and I carry these ethics through my brand in the ways i educate about sustainability practices, share other people’s journeys, and respect the earth through the building of my products. I have had people message me just to say they were inspired to swap the plastic for something more eco-friendly from my post or be inspired to start their own entrepreneurial journey from reading a blog post on my website- those little things are what fuels me every day.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
I take a step back from the situation to reflect. I can get really caught up in the moment, but once I calm down, reflect, and collect my thoughts, I feel more mentally prepared to address the situation. As well, I often seek assurance and advice from my friends who have been so supportive of me since conceptualizing this business. I wouldn’t be able to do this without their mental support!
Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals to help you stay balanced?
I try to take the first 10-15 minutes of my day to stretch, drink a glass of water, and not be on my phone. I feel like this helps set my mood for the morning and puts me in a good mindset to do my best work. In the evening, I love going to the gym or going to a workout class. The gym has been a great place for me to de-stress! If I don’t go often both my mind and body start feeling sluggish. Thirdly, I like taking time to journal and reflect on my thoughts and the day. It helps me to stay grounded, and it’s nice reading back on it to see how far I’ve grown personally as well.
What are 3 tips that you can give our community to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle?
- Small changes do make a difference! Simply bringing a reusable cup or reusable bag to the grocery store is a good start. Oh, and try Meatless Mondays to reduce your meat consumption!
- Shop local if you can. By shopping small you’re giving back to your own economy while reducing environmental impact.
- Join eco/sustainability interest groups on Facebook. I know people aren’t really on FB as much these days, but I love it just for the multitude of groups and supportive, like-minded community that you can find there. People are generally so willing and receptive of any questions you might have about anything.
Shop Mala the Brand.
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