The Yak goes one on one with…
…Bali Sama Sama to see what they have created in a far-flung corner of Bali and sits down with Mischa and Julie to find out what blows their glasses!
Can you tell us about your light bulb moment? When and why did you feel the need to create Bali Sama Sama?
Working with brands in Australia, I realized during Covid that Bali was a place that many were dreaming of during their lockdown hours, including me. We also wanted to make a contribution to the local economy outside of the usual tourism and rice and these two desires connected. We set out to create a brand that represented the creativity on the island and put it on the map for beautiful glassware.
Where did the brand name come from?
The company is called Bali Sama Sama to reflect the idea that what we put in comes back to all of us. ‘Sama Sama’ in Balinese means ‘whatever you wish for me, I wish the same back to you’. It can also simply mean ‘thank you’. We’re based on the idea of giving and receiving for the benefit of everyone involved.
What sets Bali Sama Sama scented candles apart from other brands?
Where do we start? Firstly, the vessels are exquisite and are handblown from recycled glass designed to be reused once the wax has burned down. But the biggest game changer is that our wax is natural and plant-based and contains no nasties. Our scents are blended with 100% pure essential oils, and only those made with ingredients that are grown in Indonesia, true to our ethos of only using ingredients and materials that are sourced locally. Many mass-produced candles use fragrances that contain both chemicals and synthetics that are not healthy for the user to inhale. We make candles with a conscience.
Is it true that you were planning on only creating a scented-candle brand, but it has since gathered gravitas to also supply what items?
Yes, we started with a range of beautiful handblown vessels in a variety of shapes and colors and then began to experiment with different shapes and styles. Then someone working with us suggested that perhaps we weren’t a “candle company” per se but a glass company that also makes candles.
How long did the business take from concept to launch?
We have been building our brand for over two years now, but we’re delighted to be getting into stockists now!
Were there any processes or moments that made you doubt your sanity?
We never doubted as we are passionate about staying aligned to our purpose, which is “Together, Abundance, Freedom,” with a passion to spread our touch points with local Bali to create abundance for those we partner with and to do so freely.
Currently, Bali Sama Sama is looking for retailers and wholesalers. Any criteria for those looking to stock or on-sell BSS?
We are looking for stockists that have a premium offering and clientele that will appreciate the craftsmanship and uniqueness of our product. Those that don’t just buy our products but buy into the Bali Sama Sama story and purpose.
The scents used in each candle are rather special. Could you tell us the backstory and a bit about each one?
They are unique because only pure essential oils that are grown in Indonesia are used. Although this could be limiting, it also means that the blends created are reminiscent of the island and hope to evoke memories of special moments people have spent here. Currently, there are five different blends available:
- Bali Rice Fields – A woody, grounded blend with crowd-pleaser patchouli, which Bali is famous for. It is a romantic, exotic blend that evokes warm nights on the beach.
- Bali Sunrise – A citrusy, energizing blend which also has frangipani, synonymous with the island.
- Bali Waves – A fresh, calming blend with Cendana, lemongrass, and fennel.
- Bali Blessings – A floral, peaceful blend with one of the most recognized scents – Ylang Ylang.
Incredibly, we have just learned that candle wax has a memory. Could you explain this phenomenon?
Yes, indeed! The first time a candle is lit sets the stage for how well it will burn thereafter. Wax has memory, and the aim is to take your time the first time and allow the melted wax to reach the side of the vessel, which takes approximately two hours. The candle will remember where it was burnt to, so if it’s only lit for a short period and extinguished, it will restrict its flow for the next time and only burn to the same boundary. This can create a tunnel that restricts future burns and reduces the amount of time one can enjoy the candle for.
BSS is set to provide wax refills for the candles. Does this make good business sense?
I believe it does. The vessels are designed to be on display and not thrown out or put in the back of a cupboard after the candle has been enjoyed. The plan is to provide a block of wax in the grams that will fill the candles as well as a little bottle of the right amount of essential oil for the wax ratio and a wick to complete a DIY kit. The difficult part of candle making is getting the ratio of the wax blend right and the correct amount of scent. Therefore, BSS has perfected that so that lovers of their candles can refill their vessels and have a brand new candle to enjoy all over again. I think this makes great sustainability sense too!
Over to the recycled glass. Few might know there is a glass-blowing industry in Bali. Would you say that BSS revived a small part of it?
I think BSS has played a part in challenging the village to do something different and not produce the “same same” green molten glass on wood. There have been many conversations with the artisans, and some of their requests were “difficult,” but they have stayed the course and continued to trial, test, and learn together. One of the favorite parts of the process is encouraging the blowers to “play” with an idea and create something new. They are incredibly talented at their craft and also very humble. The goal is to put Bali on the map for beautiful glassware.
BSS uses 100% recycled glass. How does that work out in the scheme of things?
There is an endless supply of broken glass, and much of it comes from landfills, retrieved by locals who are paid for their work. The amber glass used by BSS is from recycled beer bottles! Recycled glass does have some limitations that BSS works within, but they believe it adds to their story. It is so rewarding to see a pile of broken glass melted and turned into something beautiful and functional. Currently, BSS creates various types of glassware in signature patterns.
Lastly, where do you see BSS in five years from now?
Our vision is not only to have our products used by hotels and businesses on the island that want to support and showcase local talent and craft, but also to be a part of protecting the craft by establishing an apprenticeship program for glass blowing that creates employment and opportunities. As we continue to grow, we will push boundaries and make beautiful, unique products with every piece being a “one-of-a-kind” work of art. We aspire to make the villages we work with famous worldwide.
Congratulations on upholding purity and social responsibility in this fascinating and global industry!