Wednesday May 17 was ‘Shop the City’ day at Melbourne Central, which involved centre wide sales from 10am to 10pm. The shopping centre was markedly more chaotic than usual but amongst the mayhem was a secret haven for smart shoppers – the RMIT University Emerging Designer Market.

A pop-up marketplace on the Link Bridge, a glass passageway between Melbourne Central and Emporium, allowed the best entrepreneurial talent from RMIT to present their creations to the public. The streets outside may have been overcast and crowded, but inside was a picture of serenity as customers and sellers conversed happily.


The stall holders were selling a variety of goods including clothing, jewellery, artwork and terrariums.  One of the stalls, Sapling Candle Co., owned by mother-daughter duo Robyn and Emily, featured a range of scented candles – all beautifully packaged in embossed concrete jars­­­­, along with a sign stating the business’ not-for-profit manifesto. It was the launch day for the candles, both at the market and online, meaning any sales made would be the very first to go towards charity.

Emily, who studies marketing at RMIT, gave the run-down on what Sapling Candle Co. is all about.

Tell us a bit about Sapling Candle Co.

“We create concrete soy candles. We use high-quality ingredients and make sure we tick eco boxes like lead free wicks. But our main aim is to raise funds to go to Asia. We fund community workers who teach women how to sew, put children into homes rather than orphanages… those kinds of community development projects.”

You’re launching the brand today, how do you feel?

“We were so nervous! I was excited because we just wanted to get it off the ground; we’ve been building a lot of anticipation for today. It was nice to finally get in the car, set up here and try to make it look like we’ve been doing this for ages. We’re still very fresh.”

What inspired you to start the business?

“The idea actually came from my mum. She was a stay at home mum so now that we’re all grown up, she wanted to work for a charity. Then instead she thought of creating a product that would self-fund – a candle. I got hold of mum’s idea and bought it to life—I got the design going and mum’s doing all the admin. So here we are today.”


How did you get started and lift the idea off the ground?

“My dad is a business owner and my mum has always supported him admin-wise, so my dad’s businesses are essentially helping us start up. But I’ve always felt like I’ve wanted my own product—I don’t want to work for somebody else, I’ve always had a desire to have my own “something”. So because my parents have done that, I felt a bit more equipped to start my own business.”

What sets Sapling Candle Co. apart from other companies?

“I think our product by itself is quite unique. We wanted to steer away from having a glass or ceramic candle with a sticker on it. We felt that the product development was special – having concrete and having our logo moulded into it. Even that it’s quite heavy and you can reuse it. And of course we’re giving our money away. This isn’t a profit making thing for us— it’s a great experience, but also we feel like we’re using our skills to benefit people who need the money more than we do.”

With such a sound business background and passionate entrepreneurs like Emily and Robyn at its head, Sapling Candle Co. is sure to be successful.

The Designer Market was an excellent way for Robyn and Emily and many of the other stallholders to launch and promote their business. With scores of people stopping by to check out the 16-stall market, the event was a hit with shoppers and makers alike. From candles to bike shorts, there was something for everyone.


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If you want to check out Sapling Candle Co. for yourself, you can follow their journey at @saplingcandleco on Facebook and Instagram and purchase their products from

Words by Christie McQualter

Pictures by Guy Barton