“I feel so happy when I’m making my candles,” she says with a wide smile. “So when my customers engage with my candles with all their senses, I just want them to feel happy too!”

– Ceyda Oktem

With the pressure and expectations so many of us face each day, it can be challenging to find the joy. But for Ceyda Oktem, joy is what it’s all about. “I feel so happy when I’m making my candles,” she says with a wide smile. “So when my customers engage with my candles with all their senses, I just want them to feel happy too!”

We have a feeling they will. Because when you speak to Ceyda, that’s exactly how you feel. As an early childhood educator by day and candle maker by night, her infectious energy simply exudes happiness. A former ceramic artist from Turkey, Ceyda started her business in 2020 when she was stood down from her role. “I was at home in lockdown, wondering what to do,” she says. “I started baking banana bread … then I tried some yoga … then I got into some TV shows I hadn’t started yet. And then, I started to melt candles and put them into a jar!” That lockdown hobby? You guessed it – jackpot. 

This creativity certainly hasn’t developed out of thin air, as Ceyda has always had a deep appreciation of and love for art and design. “My grandma always wanted me to be a doctor,” Ceyda says. “But I knew I was passionate about design. I used to drag my family to design stores every week, hoping to convince them that they might have something new on display for the kitchen or the bathroom! I would always feel so happy in those stores.”

Unsurprisingly, Ceyda ended up graduating from a Fine Arts Academy in Turkey, but a desire for adventure brought her to Australia. “I came in 2015 and went to RMIT,” Ceyda tells us. “I made friends and felt at home immediately. Eventually things became a little bit harder due to language barriers and a change in my degree, but even then, I have always felt so secure and a sense of belonging here in Australia. I feel very lucky.”

We may be so bold as to say that we are the lucky ones. Still working as an early childhood educator with her candle business on the side, Ceyda is constantly inspired by the world around her. “I am so inspired by the children I work with,” she says. “The way they mix colours always gives me a great idea!”

Great ideas, it seems, Ceyda is full of. As well as dreams. “My dream is that when people think of candles, they think of Studio by Ceyda. This business is my baby. I started from nothing, and now people see my candles and love them. Which definitely makes me think I am on the right track.” 

Whatever track you’re on, Ceyda, we’ll be following along!

Published by Amy Malpass-Hahn, Freelance writer