My Grandfather’s Orchids

As told to Vanessa Machir

Alicia Tsai
Alicia Tsai, founder of Aerangis.

Alicia Tsai, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing ’14

I was born and raised in Taiwan. As is custom, we had three generations living in the same house. My grandfather built a greenhouse filled with orchids—he was always very busy with work, but going to the greenhouse was his little heaven. There were four of us kids, but I was the only one intrigued by his orchids. This created a close connection between us.

Aerangis The Beginning Candle
The Beginning Candle by Aerangis.

When I was nine, he came over to me one night while I was doing my homework. He gave me an Aerangis orchid, explaining how rare it was and telling me about its star shape and fragrance. This moment imprinted on my brain and encapsulates my whole memory of him. Two years later, he passed away.

I officially started my company, Aerangis, in 2017. The Beginning candle was so named because it was the start of my fragrance journey, a scent to help me relive that warm and fuzzy moment with my grandfather. It’s based on the Aerangis, but it captures the whole experience … a faint whiff of his cologne, the leaves by the window, the summer breeze in Taiwan.