Based in Pattaya, Wax Valley Candle Co. is the beloved project of Apichat “Nueng” Kochapatsap, a young computer engineer turned candle aficionado. Made from soy wax, these natural aroma products are far from your regular candles. In fact, you can even listen to them. Yes, you read that right—listen to them. We met up with Nueng to discuss Wax Valley’s journey from humble to hip, why storytelling is important to his brand, and what drove him to craft a scent named after Pattaya.
How did Wax Valley start?
After graduating from computer engineering, I worked in a logistics company for a couple of years before growing bored. I decided to take a work and holiday program in Australia for a year. I worked as a barista in Sydney for six months and in Cairns for another six months. While in Cairns, I developed a crush on an aroma candle brand for sale there. At the beginning I just loved the idea of working at such a shop as I really enjoy selling things. I used to work as a seafood vendor at flea markets like Art Box. While selling butter-grilled scallops, I found that I really enjoyed meeting customers. I eventually ordered a candle starter kit and played around with making aroma candles at my host house. Then I decided I would start a candle business when I came back home.
What made you fall in love with candles?
I’ve generally always liked aroma products, like Muji’s aroma diffuser. I was looking for something I could do by myself, step by step. That’s when candles sprung to mind. I ran a brand in Australia for 3-4 months before coming home. I embedded myself in the public library to research about the concept and finally came up with the name “Wax Valley.” After designing the logo and packaging, I came back to Thailand and started to create candles working with local suppliers. When I started selling at flea markets in 2017, I had about six fragrances. I use natural soy instead of paraffin. When you light the candle, soy wax is good for the environment and can be used in air-conditioned spaces. On the other hand, paraffin, which is made from petroleum products, leaves residue in the air. Soy wax can also be used as skin oil as well.
What makes Wax Valley stand out from other aroma brands?
Wax Valley might not be the first brand to use soy wax, but I create each scent with a certain concept in mind. Storytelling is important to me and I try to convey moods to my customers through scents. I want to be seen as a lifestyle brand that creates full experiences. That’s why I also create a Spotify playlist for each scent. Customers can scan a card and then listen to the songs while they use my candles. I got this idea from the coffee shops in Australia where they give customers a card to learn more about the coffee beans, such as where they are grown, their tasting notes and the names of the farmers behind them. I want every one of my candles to have a story of their own.
How else do you go about achieving that?
For my Bangkok scent, I looked at it from the perspective of people wanting to find peace in this bustling metropolis. In this case, I used lavender to give it a peaceful side but contrasted it with cinnamon to add a spicy note. Another scent called Siam Disc came from thinking about Thailand, my homeland, and specifically Songkran [Thai New Year]; here, I combined jasmine [symbolic in Thailand of all that’s pure and gentle] with citrus for some contrast. Then Siam Discovery took this scent to sell at the mall and it was popular. It was just a coincidence.
You’ve also got a scent named after your hometown, Pattaya.
Yeah, I created it in the summer of 2018. I wanted to create a scent that would make people think of the sea. When I think of the sea, I think of coconut trees. I made the scent coconut-based and then contrasted the creaminess with a citrus-y touch of lime. I named it Pattaya after my hometown.
How many scents do you have now?
Eleven for now, including two seasonal scents and one localised scent. The seasonal scents this year are mango sticky rice [yeah, we smelled it and it’s the real deal!—S@S editorial] and Afterfall, which was inspired by the rainy season—I wanted to convey the beauty of the clear sky after the downpour. As for the localised scent, I have one called Chiang Mai that’s for sale only in Chiang Mai. I wanted to test the market and see if people would buy a scent as a kind of memory of a specific destination.
“I want every one of my candles to have a story of their own.”
Apichat “Nueng” Kochapatsap, founder of Wax Valley
What’s so charming about Pattaya?
It’s a place that can give you everything both by day and by night. If it’s daytime, you can go to the beach or catch a boat to the nearby islands. If you want nightlife, it’s all right here. For me, it’s the city that never sleeps.
What is your favourite thing about Pattaya right now?
I especially like the main Pattaya Beach now. A large restoration program is helping to combat erosion and, as a result, we now have a super-wide beach! I was in Pattaya during the New Year’s countdown and walked to the beach to see the fireworks up close. It was a feeling I hadn’t had for so long. In recent times, the beach was so small and full of umbrellas. But now it’s so vast that you can run and walk along the beach. I even see foreigners bringing their own towels to sunbathe on the beach. When there is the Pattaya International Fireworks Festival, it will be so gorgeous. Pattaya is already a great city. It’s just about us taking more care of it.
Nueng's Favourite Spots in Pattaya
“I love Koh Larn. When you weigh up the commute time and the experience of visiting the island, it’s so worth it. The island is so close to Pattaya [a 40-minute slow boat ride or 15-minute speedboat road], but the natural beaches are just as splendid as the faraway ones elsewhere in Thailand that get all the attention. I especially like Tawaen and Samae beaches. The latter is so pretty and quiet, and I love to just sit and watch the sunset there. It’s my kind of happiness, to be alone with myself.”
Baba Eating Room
Baba Eating House
“The owner lived in Melbourne for 30 years and came back to cook hearty meals that really carry the taste of Australian culture. Walking in there it feels like a safe place; it’s so comfy for me in both the vibe and the food. I love their veggie burger with the shiitake sauce, as well as their coffee with soy milk option too.”