October Pumpkin: Naga woman chooses to light candle in pottery jar
DIMAPUR — A warm glow, a romantic ambience, a festive feel, a pick-me-up at the end of a stressful day- a lighted candle has different meanings to different people.
For Rinchon Vashum, the scented candles created by her business, the ‘October Pumpkin Co.,’ are her way of giving back to her community and share traditional skills and stories.
At the ongoing Nagaland International Trade Expo (NITex), which began in Dimapur on January 18, the CEO of the candle-making firm, clad in traditional Tangkhul attire, gave insights into her business, which specialises in crafting scented soy candles from domestically grown soy wax (100%), encased in Longpi black pottery jars.
The choice of the Longpi jar is significant, as it originated from Longpi village in Manipur’s Ukhrul district. The Longpi pottery not only represents her community’s traditional artistry but also creates employment opportunities.
October Pumpkin’s candles, claimed to be environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing and delightfully aromatic, are also said to be more affordability (up to 50%) compared to competitors in the market.
What was started as a hobby eventually grew into a firm, thanks to positive feedback from friends and customers, which laid the groundwork for the candle-making business. Managed by a core team of five people, the workforce of the company is adjusted according to demand and seasonal requirements, it was informed.
A standout feature, as highlighted by Vashum, is the utilisation of Longpi pots- these pots made of serpentine stone powder and weathered rocks, have been used by her forefathers since time immemorial and are said to enhance the nutritional value of foods cooked in them.
She said that when customers purchase their products, she encourages them to reuse the jars for cooking as a way to minimise waste. Cleaning the pots is a breeze with soap and water, ensuring they are safe for food and cooking purposes, she said.
Notably, these pots exhibit durability, she said, adding that she had tested its endurance by heating it in an oven at 400 degree Celsius and it didn’t cause any damage.
The plant-based nature of soy wax also enhances its eco-friendliness, being both renewable and biodegradable. The team at October Pumpkin Co. carefully curates each scent to evoke specific emotions, having released 12 fragrances to date.
Their repertoire includes a ‘Forest’ scent tailored for adventurous souls who cherish camping, emanating the aroma of pine. Users attested that it captures the essence of strolling through a dense pine forest.
Another creation, ‘In the Library,’ aims to encapsulate the nostalgic scent of old books and the ambiance of a library.
Vashum said that she developed a fondness for warm scents emanating from bakeries as a child. These memories served as an inspiration for the scents crafted by the October Pumpkin Co.
Notably, they predominantly use fragrance oils, as essential oils turn toxic when burned at high temperatures in candles.
One of their top sellers is ‘Bergamot Orange,’ a fragrance, Vashum said, encapsulates the essence of the place she proudly calls home.
She shared that her native village Kachai in Ukhrul district is known for its lemons, which have been accorded geographical indication (GI) registration, and this particular scent was crafted as a nod to her village’s citrus-rich heritage.
Sharing that she initially began crafting candles as a personal hobby, before it turned into a sense of community responsibility, the entrepreneur said the main inspiration revolves around a commitment to giving back to the community.
She believes that providing employment opportunities, showcasing skills and sharing traditional stories are key ways to contribute.
The October Pumpkin is planning to soon explore the possibility of expanding its wings by getting into additional home fragrance items such as car fragrances, reed diffusers, and more.
On challenges faced by the firm, Vashum said the main issues revolve around marketing and transportation, as the fragility of the items necessitates meticulous packing, thus incurring additional cost. The marketing challenge lies in reaching out to customers from other districts, adding complexity to the sales process, she added.
The NITex, which will conclude on January 22, features 140 stalls, including the October Pumpkin Co.