We had the good fortune of connecting with Minah Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Minah, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started to make my own candles whenever I had free time after I found out that the candles have bought were most likely soy/paraffin candles and I fell for the words “soy blend” or “soy candle”. It was a shock for me that the candle brands are not required to disclose the ingredients, so it is impossible for us to know what they used. I wanted to know the ingredients within the candles – if the wax is100% soy, where they are from, if the fragrance oils are synthetic, natural, or blended, and if the wick is cotton without lead and zinc, etc. One of the reasons I pay attention to the ingredients is that I majored in Organic chemistry and worked as a Chemical and Pharmaceutical patent researcher in the Korean Government. Chemicals and diseases were the main two things I was dealing with every day. After that, I moved to the US due to my husband’s work and I had to find a new career because there was no office location related to my career close to Houston. It was frustrating when I had to give up my career very first time, but it was a really great chance to experience different things, like taking classes, traveling, and meeting people from different countries and fields. My experience during that time opened my eyes to different perspectives of work and career. And I decided to change my career path to be an entrepreneur. I remembered that people around me loved my candles because of the designs and ingredients and I found myself enjoying working with the candles. Moreover, I want people to know why the quality of home fragrance is important as it is a customer’s right to get informed right information before choosing the products. So I officially launched LH CANDLE STUDIO in 2018.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
A candle business in the US was a red ocean when I decided to do it. I found 2-3 candle makers in every market I went to. I have got to create something different from other makers to catch the attention of customers. It was the most challenging to build our brand identity. I focused on the design. I realized that people buy candles not only for themselves but also for friends and families as gifts. I got the idea from the cake decorating technique and I decorated candles according to the fragrance notes within the candles. I also added a scented wax tablet line for closets, bathrooms, and the offices where people can’t burn the candles. Those two lines became our signature of LH CANDLE STUDIO. And now I am so proud that we are known for handcrafted home fragrances unlike any you have seen.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Houston murals and art walls around the city, small boutiques and antique shops around in Montrose and Heights. Houston arboretum, Menil Collection, and Museum of Fine Arts are also great places to visit. I know that Houston’s cuisine is so much more than Tex-Mex and BBQ, but I should bring them to try those two if it is their first visit. My favorite restaurants are Pinkerton’s Barbecue and El Tiempo Cantina in Washington ave. At night, I love to go to the Rooftop Cinema Club in Uptown to watch old movies with drinks. Also, I recommend Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. The rooftop beer garden has an amazing view of Downtown Houston.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my husband. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support and help. He has happily taken the roles of a sales person, candle maker, booth setup man, business mentor, and so many more roles, in addition to his full-time job.