How to Make Weddings “Give Back Ever After”

Weddings That Give Back

“A ‘give back’ wedding is a celebration of love and commitment that isn’t just about the couple and their family and friends, but rather a wider circle of community touched by the wedding”.  – Marcie Muehlke, co-founder of Fair Trade Wedding Dress Company, Celia Grace.

Heartwarming words from a woman we deeply admire, and who founded one of our favorite companies. Celia Grace creates fair trade wedding dresses for brides who are beautiful inside and out. Every elegantly designed gown truly gives back by helping women around the world.

Businesses like Celia Grace make us proud to be part of a global movement for ethically made products that touch many lives near and far, simply because of the way they are made and a commitment to the greater good. There are so many out there… it’s not hard to find them!

Of course, there are also lots of products that do little for people or the planet, which is why we’re excited that this movement to “purchase with heart” continues to grow.

With that in mind – and summer in the air with wedding planning in high gear – we thought we’d take a moment to share some special ways to make any wedding a “Give Back Ever After” one with unique, handcrafted candles.

Light the way 

Weddings that give back

Weddings are wonderful in so many ways, mostly because they celebrate a connection between two people who love each other. It is a day full of shared joy and moments that everyone wants to remember, which is why we like giving guests a keepsake they’ll take home and treasure.

You can thank your wedding party with a custom designed candle favor matching your theme and colors, and sharing your values. As one of our dear brides Rachel said, “Knowing that our wedding favors support an amazing company with a compelling social mission made us smile when our guests asked us where the beautiful, great smelling candles were from.” Thank you, Rachel!

And make your ceremony and reception glow with distinctive candles handmade by women artisans, reflecting the generosity of spirit shared by everyone present.

Express gratitude 

Weddings that give back

Weddings are a great time to give meaningful gifts and express gratitude to family and friends. At Prosperity Candle, we feel gratitude takes on an entirely new meaning with wedding and bridal gifts that brighten the lives of those that make them. With many designs and wonderful fragrances to choose from, we individually gift box each candle with your personal message enclosed.

Best of all, each candle includes a story card about the woman who made it and the opportunity to send her a personal message. Every day our artisans receive loving notes of support and gratitude, telling them how much their candles are enjoyed.

Radiate beauty  

Weddings that give back

From an exquisite dress to fancy flowers and thoughtful touches, we know every detail counts on wedding day. Which is why we offer so many wonderful scents inspired by nature. Choose from over 60 luxurious fragrances made with essential oils, from rich florals to soothing woods, fresh herbs to seasonal fruits, and refreshing scents like a cool ocean breeze. We also make unscented candles that are entirely fragrance-free.

And none of our fragrances are over-powering… we never add enhancers or dyes, believing the perfect candle creates a gentle ambiance rather than overwhelms your senses.

Make it seasonal

Weddings that give back

Every wedding season has its own beauty. For us, summer months speak of sun, time spent outdoors, and a nostalgic feeling of days spent at the beach. The Antibes Coral Candle is one of the most unique candles we’ve ever created, evoking all that is naturally beautiful seaside. Introduced a few months ago, it’s become one of our all-time favorites.

No matter what time of year a wedding is, we have the perfect candle ready and waiting to be poured in the fragrance of your choice. And if you’re looking for something truly special, give us a call. No one has as many unique candle designs as we do!

Toast the happy couples

Yes, let’s toast all the couples out there who are planning weddings that are eco-friendly, socially responsible, and give back with love and gratitude… it’s exactly what the world needs.

With the growing popularity of fair trade weddings, people today seek a celebration that reflects who they are and at the same time provides a memorable experience for everyone attending. Prosperity Candle can help create that experience, from wedding favors to table décor to bridal gifts.

So, need an inspirational gift for the happy couple? Or getting married yourself and looking for the perfect favors for your guests, gifts for your bridal party, and candles for your tables?

Let us help you find the ideal candles to suit your occasion. Or browse our collections for your special day and get $10 off your first Prosperity Candle purchase by using the coupon code BLOG.

A big thanks to our friends at Celia Grace for contributing to this post and, more importantly, to helping to make the world a better place.

#GiveBack     #Wedding     #ProsperityCandle

Open your heart, one candle at a time

World Refugee Day Prosperity Candle

“Refugees have done more for my heart and my spirit than I can ever express in words” – Angelina Jolie Pitt, Actress and UN Ambassador.

Powerful words spoken by an impressive woman, echoing our sentiments exactly. Which is why June 20th marks an event close to our hearts: World Refugee Day. It is a day each year to honor the courage, strength and the determination of those who are forced to flee from persecution, conflict and natural disaster.

They leave behind their homes and everything familiar to build new lives elsewhere, somewhere safe, a place to a brighter future. Every year on this day we take a moment to appreciate the women artisans at Prosperity Candle who were once refugees simply because they belonged to the wrong ethnic group. It’s impossible to comprehend all they have gone through, and yet here they are each day – resilient, strong, unceasingly determined.

We ask you to show your support for these brave women, men and children. Speak up on their behalf and encourage others to do the same. And take a moment to donate to World Refugee Day. You’ll be joining many others with open hearts who are helping refugees across the globe.

“Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me,” says Ban Ki Moon, the United National Secretary General. “They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again. On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity, and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.”

#WorldRefugeeDay     #Compassion     #WithRefugees

World Refugee Day Prosperity Candle

Helping to rebuild lives

Here at Prosperity Candle, our mission from day one has been to work where few businesses are willing or able to go. Places where war and natural disaster have devastated communities, turned families into refugees, and left few opportunities to escape poverty.

In 2009 we launched a pilot project in Iraq at a time when bombs and violence were a near daily occurrence in Baghdad. It wasn’t easy, and there have been many setbacks. But we are proud to have demonstrated, against the odds and despite the naysayers, that our social enterprise model works. It enables women in some of the most difficult circumstances to earn a living wage and gain independence with dignity. This in turn promotes peace and shared prosperity for all.

Connecting people and sharing inspiring stories is deeply important to us, which is why every candle includes a card about the woman who made it. We love the idea of reaching across divides with a candle, from her hands to yours.

World Refugee Day Prosperity Candle

Glocal impact

Prosperity Candle started with an international focus, but at the urging of a supporter soon began working with refugees recently relocated to the United States through U.N. and federal programs. We quickly learned that offering a helping hand to local women from regions of conflict is as powerful as working in a place like Baghdad. So our impact is now both global and local – “glocal.”

Take Moo Kho Paw, for example. Five years ago she and her family had just settled in western Massachusetts when we were introduced. They were forced to flee their native Burma, leaving behind all possessions, and lived for years a refugee camp before the opportunity arose to relocate to the United States. Moo Kho started as an apprentice candle-maker, but quickly advanced to supervisor and today is Prosperity Candle’s production manager responsible for all candle-making and training other women refugees to make unique gifts.

Moo Kho is one example of how Prosperity Candle strives to support a woman’s journey from refugee to artisan – and a brighter future for herself and her family.

World Refugee Day Prosperity Candle

Strength and compassion

What amazes us is that every artisan at Prosperity Candle, no matter what circumstances brought her here, arrives with a smile on her face each morning. Together, they set a pace for the candles to be made, working steadily throughout the day, taking breaks as needed.

Our studio is always a wonderful (and sometimes bizarre!) blend of fragrances… woodsy sandalwood one moment, fresh ocean breeze the next. And since we make every candle individually to order, the tables are a constantly changing mosaic of color and design.

We feel fortunate to work side-by-side with these women. They’ve shown us how extreme hardship can lead to a depth of strength and compassion that is beyond words.

It is humbling.

Please join us in standing #WithRefugees, and pledge your support now. And the next time you are thinking of a gift to give, consider a candle handmade by a woman refugee.

#ProsperityCandle     #WorldRefugeeDay     #Compassion

Create opportunity, create a new world.

Social Enterprise Prosperity Candle

“One tiny person can make a difference.” – Dr. Teresa Chahine, Social Entrepreneurship Program Leader at Harvard Chan School and Director at Alfanar Lebanon.

Agreed! And so can one small business prioritizing positive impact over all else. We believe in social enterprises because they contribute to solving a community challenge using the power of the marketplace. Simply put, they are a force for good… “businesses that are changing the world for the better.”

Such challenges abound, which is why Dr. Chahine’s new book Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship comes at a perfect time. It educates us about how social businesses are today’s solution for a brighter tomorrow. “For the past 10+ years I have mentored undergraduate students in helping for-profits and non-profits conceive, develop, and implement social enterprise… and have yet to find such a comprehensive and applied resource,” comments Professor John Gonas.

We’re honored to be profiled in Dr. Chahine’s book on social entrepreneurship, and thought we’d share a bit more about how we relate to this growing movement. Of course, we can’t help but first invite you to give a gift to someone you love… one that brightens lives and helps change the world for the better.  That’s why we do what we do!

Social enterprise Prosperity Candle

Catalyst for Change

“Want to change the world? Invest in women.” Those where the first words spoken by our co-founder Ted Barber when recently interviewed by bizwomen.

Prosperity Candle is a social enterprise that believes in contributing to the common good, striving every day to help end poverty through beautiful design, joyous fragrances made with essential oils and artisan stories that brighten hearts and souls.

Alongside is Prosperity Catalyst , our sister nonprofit that launches and incubates women-led businesses in distressed regions, like Iraq, where creating opportunities for women to achieve economic empowerment is an essential catalyst for social and economic change.  

Every candle purchased supports the mission of both organizations.

Social Enterprise Prosperity Candle

Social Return on Investment (SROI)

Social enterprises measure the number of lives impacted through their product or service, focusing on triple-bottom-line practices that lead to economic, social and environmental success. So the return on investment is not just financial, it’s also tangibly making the world a better place. How great is that?

We’re proud that Prosperity Candle has been named a “Best for the World” B-Corp for its positive impact on artisans, communities and the environment.  It’s part of who we are, every day, right from the start.  And we endeavor to share that message through our newsletter, blog and social media – as well as in the gift box cards included with every candle that tell the story of the woman who made your candle.

Social Enterprise Prosperity Candle

Beyond Charity

We deeply believe in philanthropy, and support its ability to catalyze change. Which is why we launched a social enterprise and nonprofit together with aligned missions. But we also know from experience that to create lasting change, charity and governments alone are not enough. It’s the marketplace – consumers, businesses and investors – that has the ability to create sustainable impact.

Here at Prosperity Candle, we created a unique business model that engages all of the above, most importantly people like you. It is based on soy blend candles that can be made even in the most difficult of environments and sold locally, regionally and globally.

We train disadvantaged women to start their own, independent candle-making enterprises, with Prosperity Candle as a partner. Why? Because our mission is to create opportunities for women to build a brighter future for themselves and their families through entrepreneurship, while brightening the homes of your friends and family with beautiful candlelight and meaningful gifts.

Thank you for the incredible support you’ve given our social enterprise over the past 6 years… we’re still a small team of passionate people thinking about how we can make a difference, one woman artisan at a time.

#ProsperityCandle    #socent    #Bcorps

Light up her Heart on Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day

“There’s a reason some people think they can do anything, they listened to their mothers”.  – a Mother’s Day quote

Mothers are incredible. It goes without saying that we wouldn’t be here without them. But so many are unsung heroes who lend a hand to people in need, bringing them in from the cold to a bright and loving environment. With Mother’s Day approaching on May 8th, we are celebrating these women – and everyone who helps and nurtures those in need.

Moo Kho, one of our candle-makers, is an inspiring example. Having endured years in a refugee camp and being separated from her parents and siblings, she has dedicated her life to helping other families who have also lost everything. And to her daughters for whom she is providing a childhood that is brighter than the one she had.

Time with loved ones is such a precious gift. And being able to spend hours with your mom to share your dreams is in itself a dream. On Mother’s Day weekend, we’ll be closing shop here and heading to Weesie’s house with her favorite candle in hand. Weesie is another unsung hero who has helped many in need over her 78 years, never letting obstacles get in the way, always seeing the best in people. She is our co-founder Ted’s mom, a woman cherished by all.

We wish we could likewise give a candle to every mother in the world. We can’t, of course. But this year we would like to give away 5 of our unique Mother’s Day designs, hand-poured by a woman artisan for your mother, daughter, sister or friend. It’s our small way of helping to celebrate the moms in other people’s lives.

For a chance to win, simply share on facebook which of the candle moments below best reflects how you would spend time with your mom. We wish you good luck!

Tea time

Mother's DayTea and candles are a perfect match… we’ve been combining them in gifts since 2011. Plan your own mother-daughter tea party with these Tika pot candles. You’ll have a chance to finally catch up and she’ll enjoy every minute of it.

Meditation

Mother's DayMothers manage a myriad of tasks all day, every day. She deserves some time to relax. Our Liberte Pot candles come in soothing fragrances and are ideal to create a zen moment in her busy day. To be fair, fathers manage a lot, too… but we’re talking about moms here!

Sweet Tooth

Mother's Day“A mother is a person who seeing there are only three cookies for four people, promptly announces she never did care for cookies” (from a quote by Tenneva Jordan). We say no way, get more cookies! Available in all our springtime fragrances, this pink pot candle is an absolute favorite.

Flower gardening

Mother's DayA bouquet of flowers goes a long way, but why not start with a candle that repurposes as a flower pot? This earth-friendly gift will make any mom happy. It even comes with a set of wildflower seeds from our good friends at Garden Collage.

So there you have it… which one is your favorite?  Light up your Mother’s heart by clicking here to win and give her a Prosperity Candle

#MothersDay #ProsperityCandle #LightUpHerHeart

Celebrate Earth Day, Every Day!

Prosperity Candle Liberte Pot Candle

“The Earth is what we all have in common” – Wendell Berry

Here at Prosperity Candle, we’re gearing up for Earth Day on April 22nd. Beyond celebrating the resources that Mother Nature has given us on this one special day, we’d like to inspire you to help protect those resources 365 days of the year. Wouldn’t it be great if every day could be Earth Day?

Sustainable development is a global topic discussed by the United Nations, as Member States gather in Paris to reach a global agreement. With so many individuals, organizations and governments involved, we’d like to have a simple story to pass on when we talk about the big – and small – things we can do to sustain our earth. Inspired by Earth Month, we’ve listed Prosperity Candle’s 5R’s of sustainability for 2016:

Respect

Encouraging respect for life on Earth goes a long way. We take pride in using nature’s resources gracefully for our candles, while brightening the lives of others. Why not choose a fair trade supplier for your business gifts and support important causes, like women’s leadership and human rights? The glow and warmth of a candle’s flame stand for how we like to treat people and the planet: with dignity.

Reduce

Have you ever calculated your ecological footprint? We are proud to be a certified B-Corp for our environmental and social sustainability practices. We use soy blend wax, fragrances made with essential oils, and natural cotton and wood wicks. We also consolidate shipments, select routes with the smallest footprint, and re-use or recycle every scrap of shipping material that comes through our door.

Repurpose

What better way to honor the earth, and your pocket, than repurposing items and giving your home decor a little boost? How about using sake candles as tea cups or this Liberte Pot candle to plant your favorite flower?

Prosperity Candle Liberte Pot Candle

Responsibility

As a social enterprise, we thrive at the intersection of business and philanthropy, seeking sustainable market-based solutions to today’s global challenges. We love supporting local initiatives like Kestrel Land Trust to benefit the community and being involved in events that benefit earth and society. Find one in your area by checking out the Earth Day Network which gathers a list of fair trade and green events around the world.

Rethink

Rethink how you shop. Rethink traditional gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. We can do lots of good for others, and the earth, with even the smallest decisions. Get your loved ones a gift that they’ll enjoy, not throw away. How about a gift card for weddings, baby showers and graduations? Ultimately, your purchases decide whether fair trade and green products become the norm.

Robert Swan once said,  “The greatest threat to our earth is believing that someone else will save it.” Let’s stand together to inspire habits that serve the earth every day. #EarthDay2016 #Candles4Earth #EarthDayEveryDay

Would you like to enjoy your own flower pot candle? Click here to start your Spring right!

Breastfeeding at work – get over it

Spanish woman breastfeeds in parliament

Breastfeeding at work

Member of Parliament Carolina Bescansa brings Diego to work and, shockingly, breastfeeds him.

When will everyone – both men and women – get over it?

Pediatricians and health professionals emphasize that breastfeeding is the healthiest, most natural care a mother can give a newborn. Not every woman can or chooses to breastfeed, but why do we continue to stigmatize those that do?

This morning’s news paints a bemusing picture of Spain’s newest members of parliament arriving for work while the establishment looked on “bewildered.” Younger, more female, some biking instead of riding in limousines. A few of the men even had ponytails.

But who causes the biggest stir? Diego, a 5-month old who was not elected and therefore should not be allowed in the hallowed chambers of government. Carolina Bescansa took flak from both men and women for grabbing headlines and perpetuating the assumption that childcare is a woman’s job.

When will this nonsense stop? Spain’s 2016 parliament boasts an increase in women and minority representation, which means it more closely resembles the make-up of the country’s population than ever before. Gender parity is encouraged by requiring all parties to put forth candidate pools that are at least 40% women. Then it’s up to the people.

They voted for 39% women (compared to 20% in the U.S. Congress, despite a 51% majority in our population), which means 138 in Spain’s lower parliament, and some 90 in the Senate. Fantastic.

And if some of those 228 women have newborns and choose breast milk over formula, what should they do? Pump all day behind closed doors, excuse themselves from meetings for a nursery visit, postpone running for office?

At Prosperity Candle, we created options. How a woman and her partner manage their family life is their choice. Our job is to make it as easy as possible in the workplace. It really isn’t that hard. We have a small nursery with screens for optional privacy, and set a clear policy that welcomes babies and supports nursing mothers.

The result is no stress, no fuss. Some days a baby is here, other days infants are with the father or another caregiver. Whatever works best. It doesn’t negatively impact or change anything. In fact, it’s a non-issue.

Which is what breastfeeding should be… a non-issue. At the office, in public, anywhere. Let’s stop calling it indecent, and stop labeling women anti-progressive for nursing at work.

Just get over it.

 

 

Contest! Dalai Lama’s “Force for Good”

Win a candle and Daniel Goleman’s newest book, A Force for Good

Dalai Lama A Force for Good Daniel Goleman

We’re so inspired by this book, and so incredibly honored to be cited as the leading example of companies “heightening the ethical standards of business” – alongside giants like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Warby Parker – that we’re celebrating by giving away a bunch of copies for free.

This jubilation is not just about being recognized for our values and commitment to social good (although after years of hard work, that feels really nice)… we love what the Dalai Lama has to say.  And Daniel Goleman expresses this vision in a thoroughly engaging way.

But here’s the best part:  you too are a force for good. We all are. Where and when has your compassion compelled you to do more than empathize, to take action?

Share it! Send your best message or photo on Facebook, TwitterInstagram or Pinterest of being a #ForceForGood, and get a chance to receive a free copy of A Force For Good by Daniel Goleman (Hardcopy or Audiobook) and a beautiful, handmade Prosperity Candle with your fragrance choice.

All our small acts add up to a big, positive impact – bigger than the scalenegativity that dominates the news. We love how the Dalai Lama says that no matter how much bad stuff happens around the world, it is far outweighed by acts of kindness and generosity.

So how do you do #RealGood?

The Dalai Lama is an optimist. He sees the good in people, and recognizes that change and a brighter future for everyone is within our grasp if we turn our compassionate energy outward. Such compassion resides within each and every one of us… it’s simply a matter of allowing ourselves to express it in all aspects of our lives, both personal and professional.

We love the phrase “a force for good.” It encompasses everything we believe in, every decision we make at Prosperity Candle. It describes the best in all of us.

So join our contest, comment on Facebook, tweet us your message, share your photo on Instagram or Pinterest. Let’s shout out to the world what it means to be a force for good!

That eligibility stuff

Contest open through July 31, 2015 (but feel free to spread the word any day of the year).

Winners announced on August 4th, so stay tuned our on social media pages.

No purchase necessary to enter or win this contest. One (1) contest entry per person. Entrants must be over 18 years of age and a legal resident of the United States. Void where prohibited. Entries on all social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) will be considered valid, and all entries must have a current e-mail address to be eligible (we’ll contact you by email for your design and shipping information).

Prosperity Candle never shares or sells your address or personal information.

Be A Force For Good, Says The Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama Daniel Goleman A Force for GoodLast Monday evening I made my way to Broadside Bookshop in Northampton, MA to hear Daniel Goleman talk about his new book, A Force for Good. I was very much looking forward to an impassioned reading from the celebrated author of Emotional Intelligence.

What I got instead was a surprising peak into who the Dalai Lama is, and his vision for the world.

Rather than promote his book, Daniel Goleman shared stories about Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama – Buddhist monk, spiritual and political leader of Tibet, refugee, Nobel Peace Prize winner, BBC fanatic. A humble man who has traveled the world sharing wisdom seasoned with impish humor.

But the anecdote that really stuck with me was one that spoke of unbound optimism.

No matter how much trauma the media heaps upon us every scaleday, the Dalai Lama notes, such misery in the world is far outweighed by acts of kindness. If one could place both on an old-style scale, compassion would triumph over cruelty and callousness.

That observation forms the foundation of his optimism. Compassion resides within each and every one of us. The challenge is how to harness it, turn it outward, and take action. It is not enough to feel empathy for those less fortunate, he says. We must each become a force for good.

I love that phrase. A force for good. It’s so powerful and forward-moving, applicable to every aspect of your life. The opposite of complacency and self-interest. It speaks of a brighter future for everyone, everywhere.

Halfway through the book you encounter a chapter called “Economics as if People Mattered” that talks about the B Corp movement and using business as a force for good – a particular passion of mine. Solving the world’s social and environmental problems is a daunting task, yet solutions are entirely within our reach. But only if businesses jump in with both feet, led by or leading consumers.

And I don’t mean dipping a toe in the socially responsible pond. That respectable but entirely inadequate time has passed. The world needs individuals, communities, businesses, investors and institutions to hear the Dalai Lama’s clarion call, recognize the need and opportunity, and turn compassion into action.

That is the vision he shares with us, told through stories of people taking bold steps in the right direction. Prosperity Candle is one of the businesses mentioned, alongside Patagonia, Greystone Bakery, Warby Parker and Ben & Jerry’s… which is very cool.

But what really matters is whether this vision will take root and grow. Change will not happen because of decisions made by governments, the Dalai Lama says. Real change can only take place when we allow our compassion and values to guide our decisions and choices.

“As human beings, equipped with marvelous intelligence and the potential for developing a warm heart, each and every one of us can become a force for good.” – Dalai Lama, February 8, 2015.

A resounding YES!FFG-Cover

Join the movement

More about A Force for Good, and the audiobook version

More about the Dalai Lama

More about Daniel Goleman

More about the B Corp movement

Related article about Prosperity Candle as a B Corp and “force for good”

World Refugee Day, Helping Kids Far Away

World Refugee Day SOS Childen's Villages

On their way from Ohio to a family vacation in Maine, Lori and Megan stopped by Prosperity Candle’s studio to say hello and meet the women refugees who make their candles. What a joy for us and, as we discovered, for kids in Zimbabwe and Nepal.

You see, Lori and Megan’s candles aren’t just any candles… they are custom-designed for SOS Children’s Villages, an international organization with a single, inspiring goal: every child has the opportunity to grow up with love, respect and security in a supportive family environment. One of their values particularly resonates: courage to take action.

That sums up how Lori and Megan spend many of their weekends. A year ago Lori called to ask if we could design a candle she and Megan could sell at fairs as a way to raise awareness and money for SOS Children’s Villages. Wanting to do more than donate, they were looking for a product that could generate support through purchases. Ideally one people would enjoy and return to buy again and again. We loved it.Custom candle for SOS Children's Villagess

Profits from every sale are donated to help vulnerable children and families around the world. Whether due to political strife in Tibet, earthquakes in Nepal, economic collapse in Zimbabwe, or war in Syria… SOS Children’s Villages is there to provide safe havens and services. Lori calculates that with every 100 candles sold they can sponsor a child in need.

She is the editor of a physics journal and her daughter Megan is in 5th grade. Both care passionately about children who through circumstances beyond their control don’t have a loving home with access to education, healthcare and support. So they took action. And as a result, SOS villages in Zimbabwe and Nepal are being sponsored.

This Saturday, June 20th, is World Refugee Day. It is a moment to reflect on the plight of refugees everywhere who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and much more. For a powerful video about kids in a refugee camp, this UN Web TV video is worth watching.

Refugees_KosovoAt Prosperity Candle we recognize this day because our U.S. candle-makers are women from refugee camps, some having spent over 15 years in temporary housing with no access to education, jobs or proper medical care. And they are the lucky ones, those few who have been given the opportunity to build a brighter future for themselves and their families somewhere else, far from the tragedy that befell them. They, too, are taking action every day to create new lives.

We hope you’ll join us on Saturday to pause for a moment, reflect on all that you are grateful for, and think about ways to help others in need. Perhaps refugees in your area. And then, like Lori and Megan, take action.

More about SOS Children’s Villages

World Refugee Day on facebook

UN Refugee Agency

Lori’s SOS Candles on facebook

 

 

 

 

Prosperity Candle Goes To Turkey Designing Pottery For Iraqi Widows

Turkish Ceramic Artisan

In the town of Kutahya southeast of Istanbul a group of artisans is working on our designs. They are among the best in the world, continuing a long tradition of crafting beautiful ceramics entirely by hand – the perfect vessel for a unique candle.

The ceramics are not for us, though. They are for widows in Baghdad. Prosperity Candle is going to Turkey to source pottery for the first women-owned candle enterprise in Iraq.

It may come as a surprise to discover we started there. In 2009, Prosperity Candle launched an initiative in Baghdad to support women’s economic independence through entrepreneurship at a time when bombs were exploding every day. Women were advised to stay home, safe from market violence and a culture that was turning increasingly restrictive.

In a small town in western Massachusetts, three friends gathered in a dining room to assemble 50 “business-in-a-box” kits, complete with candle-making equipment, training supplies and an Entrepreneur’s Guide translated into Arabic. Our founder’s 2-year and 4-year old daughters helped, making sure each box had every component the women in Baghdad would need.

Then we flew to Turkey to train the first Iraqi woman – Iptesam – on every aspect of candle-making, from preparing the wax to packaging the final product. And in record-keeping, quality control, and marketing. She returned to Baghdad to train 4 others who in turn trained more than 40 Iraqi women.

We were completely self-funded, passionate, and in hindsight a little crazy. Some months later we participated in a business plan competition and earned 3rd place. Afterward, a judge told us that our idea was so bold that we might have won, except no one actually believed we could ship out of Iraq.

Just two weeks later, our first candles left Baghdad… 1,948 pillars handmade by Iraqi women, mostly widows. We waited for a lull in the bombs, loaded a truck, and shipped. The candles were delayed in Erbil, then again in Dubai, and yet again in New York. But they arrived in time for Mother’s Day 2010.

Suffice it to say that the very first pillar we held was an emotional moment. From Baghdad to small town USA. From her hands to ours.

This vision to help women in regions of conflict build brighter futures through entrepreneurship – to not just survive, but actually thrive – was now tangible. We had a lot of work ahead to fully realize that vision, but the launch was successful. We had done what others had said was impossible.

Today, as we prepare to return to Turkey with Mimi, an extraordinarily talented product designer, we feel fortunate to be working with some of the same Iraqi women from 2009. Strong, determined, inspiring women like Lamya’a, Nazhat, Hiyam and Intisar.

This time, however, they will joined by hundreds of their sisters. Won over by the original project, the U.S. State Department has asked us to scale up the initiative to include 600 widows with their support.

That is the impact we seek. One community, one woman, one candle at a time.

If you’re interested in hearing more about Prosperity Candle’s origins, check out Our Story.

 

 

< Back