Essential Candles MD Lester Philander was born in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. Being in a middle class family, he attended government schools in Wynberg. Due to his outstanding achievements in commercial subjects, his Economics teachers referred him to a business innovation for youth call Junior Achievement. It was at Junior achievement where he really fell in love with the business world and learnt how to make candles in the process. After graduating from this course, he was the only student to go on to write the international Cambridge exam. Shortly thereafter, he graduated from Matric receiving an endorsement + Merit. He received first prize for Business Economic and first prize for Economic. He was then awarded the Yvonne Parfitt Bursary to cover his full Tuition for his Management degree.

Shortly after graduating in management and working some odd jobs, he was employed by an established coding and labelling company. In his first year, he was promoted to junior management and was trusted with huge responsibilities. It was during that time Lester met the love of his life Nicole Brown. Coming from a business family, Nicole was very ambitious. With that in mind the couple started attending various seminars, she introduced him to good business books and Lester started realising that being an employee was no longer for him (trust a women to make you realise that). It was only in Lester’s third year of working that he decided to leave the company to start his own business, Essential Candles. After doing the necessary PESTGEL, SWOT and industry analysis, he developed his unique selling proposition and identified a gap in the market place putting him miles ahead of his competition. He got a positive reaction from the community, as he was involved with various charity activities before embarking on this journey. Despite the battles faced in his first year of business, the company is fully compliant and growing noticeable.

Recently he was narrowed down to one of the top 60 black youth entrepreneurs in the SAB Kickstart enterprise development program. He was also a finalist in the Sage 1 Cape Talk business of the year award in 2014 and won a number of pitching awards.

Given this, Essential Candles is one of those companies to look out for and Lester Philander is surely one of those entrepreneurs one needs to follow.