Plain Tiger Spotlight: Aerangis

Every scent has a story.

By Renee Fortune

Stories. They shape us. They mold us. They are the narratives that make up the construct of our personal histories. In a very real way, our stories make us who we are and dictate how we relate to each other and the world around us. As a brand, Aerangis was built on a story – one of love, devotion and a fascination with the magic of the natural world.

A story of family and fondness

The story is of a little girl who spent endless afternoons at her grandfather’s side. He was an avid gardener and an expert at caring for rare and beautiful orchids which he cultivated in his greenhouse. When she was just nine years old, the little girl’s grandfather gave her a special orchid of her own – an aerangis with star-shaped flowers. 

Its lemon-scented petals emitted a fresh, sprightly fragrance that would become familiar to that little girl as the scent she associated with her love for her grandfather. When he passed away suddenly; just two years later, the scent of the aerangis became that little girl’s sensory connection to cherished memories of time spent with her favourite human. 

That little girl was Alicia Tsai. Years later, after attending the Fashion Institute of Technology’s cosmetics and fragrance program and working alongside the fragrance industry’s top thought leaders in New York, she founded Aerangis, a living tribute to her grandfather and a brand that would embody her deep-seated appreciation for the power of scent. 
The beginnings of a brand

Aerangis was founded in 2017 as a brand specialising in scented candles. Its official launch in 2020 followed three years of intensive research and product development. Today, Aerangis is a brand that specialises in “scent stories,” as Alicia explains. Every candle in the range is inspired by a backstory that speaks the language of scent. And the people who buy their candles from Aerangis are just as invested in the functionality of the products as they are in the stories that afford them with a sense of meaning and purpose. 

As Alicia explains: “I’m big on storytelling and always love to experience new scents and fragrances, but it never occurred to me that I could tell stories through scent. Studying through FIT and my experience of working with some of the world’s leading fragrance companies opened up windows of opportunity and broadened my creative horizons. It prompted me to explore the meaning behind the scents we bring into our everyday spaces and the memories that are connected to them, as well as the power of the senses to evoke powerful emotional responses. 

During those formative years when I was learning about fragrance and helping to create some of the best-selling fragrances for the brands I worked with, I began to realise that instead of searching for a fragrance that epitomises and captures my relationship with my late grandfather, I could create it myself. That’s what I did and where my journey started. Today, it’s gone far beyond just one scent and one memory. For me and the people who buy my candles, it’s become so much more.” 

Create your sanctuary

Each scented candle in the Aerangis collection has a story to tell. Its No. 51 Secret Garden candle for example, is described as a “sensory refuge.” The fragrance it emits is reminiscent of Alicia’s childhood garden and the feelings of warmth and comfort she associates with that special part of her life. The Secret Garden candle is an oasis, existing just a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of life. 

It’s a retreat into the world of familiar smells – the smell of freshly cut grass, a whisper of incense wafting through the house after Alicia’s grandmother’s morning prayers, a fresh pot of oolong tea waiting to be served. Scents like these are how Alicia shares a part of the magic of her Tawianese upbringing with the world. 

Values grounded in sustainability

Aerangis also has a strong stance on sustainability. Each candle comes with a biodegradable, seeded cover that can be planted and cultivated to produce a new “scent journey.” The ceramic jars are sourced from a historical kiln from Taiwan and are crafted by local artisans, slowly, thoughtfully and meticulously. 

Apart from its commitment to being 100% plastic-free, Aerangis is also part of the 1% for the Planet movement, an organisation that supports and funds several key environmental causes and is committed to conserving and protecting natural habitats around the world. 

The Aerangis customer

Describing her loyal customer base, Alicia says that her customers are “people who are adventurous, who love to travel and explore new things. They live in the moment and have an appreciation for the finer things in life, which, as many of them have learnt, are more often than not, the simplest of things.

They care for themselves and others, but they also care about the planet and how their lifestyles impact the environment. They are conscious consumers who curate their spaces and fill them with items that speak volumes about who they are and what they believe in.” 

Between two worlds

The aesthetic style of Areangis materialises at the intersection between ancient Taiwanese culture and heritage and the cosmopolitan energy of New York. “Simple, clean and classic” is how Alicia describes it, explaining that the brand’s minimalist visual style can fit perfectly into any interior decor style or setting. A touch of texture and subtle detailing affords Areangis candles with a playful yet elegant sense of character.

They are, in their own right, pieces of functional art. To own them is to own the stuff of memories and an expression of lived experience, translated through scent.

Discover Aerangis

$78.00 USD
$78.00 USD