One Day for One World: World Fair Trade Day 2016

World Fair Trade Day

“Nobody wants to buy something that was made by exploiting someone else”. – Jerry Greenfield, philanthropist and co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s.

These are words of wisdom, short and straight to the point. However for us, the concept of Fair Trade stretches well beyond. As one of our favorite actresses and activists Emma Watson once stated, “I think if you care about the developing world, then Fair Trade is even better than giving to charity, as you’re essentially giving these people the opportunity to help themselves out of poverty – and that’s all they really want.”

That’s why we love World Fair Trade Day. Started in 2001, World Fair Trade Day is an initiative that falls on the second Saturday of May of each year. It is an inclusive worldwide festival of events celebrating Fair Trade as a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty and exploitation, climate change and the economic crises that have the greatest impact on the world’s most vulnerable. Leading up to May 14th, Fair Trade USA is recognizing the importance of empowering women by announcing their #FairHer campaign to celebrate women who purchase Fair Trade products.

We believe that everyone deserves to be a part of the #FairHer initiative! That’s why we’re giving away 5 candles for World Fair Trade Day 2016. For a chance to win, simply enter our contest on Facebook and tell us why YOU love Fair Trade products. Here’s why we believe in Fair Trade:

World Fair Trade Day

Self-empowering

Fair trade does more than provide, it empowers. One of the beautiful things about making candles is that a woman can start up and expand a business in the safety of her own home with local materials. This stability is a critical element during times of unrest. Enabling women to escape poverty and conflict around the world lies at the heart of our enterprise. Every candle purchased helps provide a fair, living wage for the women of Prosperity, who have recently resettled from refugee camps and are working to build a brighter future for themselves and their families in the United States.

World Fair Trade Day

Quality

Fair Trade symbolizes ‘high quality’. That’s why Fair Trade strawberries taste even sweeter! We care about the quality of candles, and the quality of life. The candles we make are hand poured and soy blend with natural cotton wicks. We add the perfect amount of fragrance made with essential oils, then hand pour into vessels one by one. Also, needless to say, we are dedicated to shaping a high quality of life for our women artisans and their families. We thrive on investing in communities like Haiti and Iraq, and ultimately creating a beautiful, fair candle experience for you that you can believe in.

World Fair Trade Day

Uniqueness

Fair Trade is unique. Just like people, every candle is different! We proudly embrace this uniqueness in candle design, and our social enterprise. There are over 400 candle producers in the United States. Many are environmentally compatible but no other candle company is B-Corp certified for social and environmental impact. We believe that other companies like to work with us because we’re different. For example, we love working with our sustainable collaboration partners The Little Market and Garden Collage. Their mission, vision and teams align perfectly with what we do at Prosperity Candle! From woman artisan to business partner, we pour love into all our working relationships, our candles and our loyal customers. This uniqueness defines Prosperity Candle.

Ready to join in this global celebration? Inspired to try one of our candles? Click here to browse our collections and don’t forget to enter our World Fair Trade Day giveaway on Facebook!

#WFTD2016    #FairTrade     #ProsperityCandle

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

International Women’s Day: Men

International Women's Day

“It’s sad to see that in this day and age, gender parity is still far from a reality in many parts of the world.” – Sir Richard Branson

Indeed. Except that it’s more than sad, and it’s not yet a reality anywhere. But it will be.

March 8th is International Women’s Day, a collective moment taken every year to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. We love it, and appreciate the businesses and organizations that ask us to create custom gifts for their IWD events.

We also love International Women’s Day because we see a huge spike in conversation about the issues we care most about and focus on throughout the year. Whether celebrating accomplishments or taking action on behalf of women’s rights, March 8th represents a powerful force for positive change in the world.

One essential part of that progress is men. It is not enough for women alone to fight for equal opportunities. Men and future men – boys learning gender roles as they grow – must actively participate. In the home, in schools, in government, and at work, play and places of worship. Everywhere.

When we travel, we see the degree to which gender inequality holds back women and girls from success, especially in education, business, media and government. Often the constraints are cultural, which is particularly tough to change. But let’s be frank. Many barriers are born of domination, fear and misogyny.

And yet, there is progress. In Saudi Arabia where women cannot open a bank account without a husband’s permission, let alone drive a car, they voted for first time in local elections this past December. For a country that is among the most repressive, this is a milestone. A human right fought for by women, supported by broadminded men.

So this year we choose to celebrate the many men across the world and all walks of life who not only believe in and support gender parity, but stand up and say so. Loud and clear.

That is why we like HeForShe so much, an organization that emphasizes equality is not just a women’s issue… it is a human issue. Because supporting equal rights and opportunities for women and girls is surely the best way to create a brighter future for all.

Visit International Women’s Day, HeForShe and UNWomen to learn more and watch inspiring videos. And be sure to share!

#IWD2016        #PledgeForParity        #HeForShe

One Billion Rising 2016

1BillionRising_3

In 2013, we participated in several of the 1 BILLION RISING events here in Massachusetts. It was powerful, meaningful and incredibly energetic. We danced. A lot.

And everyone there – women, men and kids – all of us heard the call-to-action loud and clear:  stop violence against women and girls.

Last year on Valentine’s Day we sent out an email entitled “Women are not a possession,” and it elicited many more responses than usual, mostly thank-you’s, but also questions about why we did it.

We thought we’d reiterate why this movement means so much to us. Why we are promoting their campaign and donating 10% of sales from the past few weeks.

When we started Prosperity Candle, supporting women in regions of conflict was our purpose. The founders had traveled around the world for decades helping people escape poverty through entrepreneurship, and decided that investing in women would be our focus, our way of creating lasting change.

In March 2009, we were traveling to meet with our pilot project partner, Women for Women International, and on the plane started reading about the women in their programs. Women who had not only survived war, but unspeakable atrocities at the hands of men.

We landed in tears. What these women had experienced was beyond comprehension. So was their strength and resilience. Six months later, we began working with a group of these women in Baghdad.

That is how we started, and who we are. All of our candles are handmade by strong women building a brighter future for themselves and their families, here in the U.S. and overseas. Women who have faced and overcome unspeakable adversity. Women who have lost their homes, family members, dignity… and so much more that is beyond words.

We recognize this past, but are focused on the future and doing what we can to ensure women and girls everywhere have an equal opportunity to build a better life. A big part of that is standing up for their rights, and ending violence against women and girls.

February 14th is Valentine’s Day and the worldwide event day for ONE BILLION RISING. We are incredibly inspired by this movement and Eve Ensler’s engaging approach to activism.

We encourage you to visit V-Day on facebook and ONE BILLION RISING to discover powerful videos, images and more.

And check out HeForShe, an organization we also support:

HeForShe_Logo_Header_SupportingPartners_UseOnly_onWhite

And be sure to listen to Break The Chain, Tena Clark’s incredible anthem for ONE BILLION RISING:

Break The Chain, One Billion Rising

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.

 

 

From Haiti To Haiti, With Determination

Haiti_earthquake

On January 12th, 2010 a powerful earthquake struck Haiti, taking 230,000 lives, injuring 300,000 and displacing over 1.5 million. Six years later, families and the country are still struggling to recover.

Here at Prosperity Candle, and for the thousands of people who have volunteered to save and help rebuild lives there, the devastation that befell this Caribbean country just a few hours’ flight from Miami is much more than images. We’ve worked in Haiti both before and after the earthquake.

So when Prosperity Candle was ready to expand to a new country to support women artisans and entrepreneurs, we knew it would be Haiti. Beyond donations, we wanted to reach out to help Haitians build a brighter future in the way our social enterprise was created to do. Together with our sister nonprofit, Prosperity Catalyst, we went there and invested in a women-owned candle enterprise.

Three years later, we are continuing that effort with something new and entirely unique.

_JP_5531

Concrete candle holders made with rubble from the 2010 earthquake, symbolizing light from darkness and a brighter future ahead. Designed and individually handcrafted in partnership with Stone Soup Concrete, 10% of proceeds are donated to support women entrepreneurs and civic leaders in Haiti.

But today  through January 12, 2016 we are donating 100% of the proceeds.

Combined_Haiti_Pillars_JP_8379

Already these candles reside in homes from London to LA, given as unique and meaningful gifts this past holiday. The response has been incredible. Each begins with blocks of concrete we handle with deep awareness of the lives lost, and even deeper determination to help those still in need.

Turning these blocks into smooth candle holders is a slow process done entirely by hand from start to finish. No two pieces are exactly the same depending on the material we receive. Each arrives with a story card and matchbox with inspirational quote. You can view the Haiti Rubble Series in our Limited Edition Collection.

For wholesale inquiries, please visit the Haiti Rubble Series on our wholesale site.

If you are interested in supporting Haitian women more directly, we encourage you to visit Prosperity Catalyst, a Boston-based nonprofit that incubates and launches women-led businesses in distressed regions, creating opportunities for women to achieve economic empowerment. Its vision is a world where all women have the opportunity, capacity and support to become powerful catalysts for social and economic change.

Thank you. Together we can – and will – create a brighter future for all.

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.

 

 

Gender Pay Gap: Patricia Arquette Gets It

Patricia Aquette

“Patricia Arquette gets it” are the Washington Post’s words, but we totally agree.

The question of a gender pay gap has been debated a lot lately, long before the Academy Awards and certainly after. And that is great. Because no matter who says what with which statistic – whether that gap has significantly narrowed or remains stubbornly wide – it exists.

Women today on average make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. If you’re under age 35, 90 cents. Back in 1979 it was just 63 cents, so that is real progress.

And this may surprise you: unmarried women without children earn 96 cents to an unmarried man’s dollar.

That’s practically pay equity! And yet… what exactly does this imply? What happens when a woman has a baby?

76 cents is what happens. Married mothers with at least one child under age 18 earn 76 cents on a married father’s dollar. Which means women are effectively penalized for giving birth. In a recent report for the centrist think tank Third Way, University of Massachusetts sociology professor Michelle Budig put it this way:

“Fatherhood results in a wage bonus… motherhood results in a wage penalty.”

This is precisely the point Patricia Arquette was making in her Oscar acceptance speech. The wage gap is much greater for mothers… a full 24%. Which is why we love what she said.

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

She got some pushback from groups advocating for action on more extreme of forms of gender inequality around the world, and they have a point. But whether rich or poor, in the US or abroad, every woman deserves equality.

We’ll go one step further. Nearly everywhere, women and girls face numerous disadvantages, from restricted access to education and work opportunities to lower compensation and property ownership. It’s not only a pay gap – it’s a global opportunity gap. A big, wide, stubbornly persistent chasm.

We argue that many of the world’s most intractable problems like poverty and conflict can be linked to gender inequality – and solved by addressing it. Equal opportunity for women and girls will bring about a brighter future for everyone, everywhere.

This Wednesday, April 14th, is Equal Pay Day. It symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Some say it’s misleading, based on headlines rather than real data.

We say it’s an important day to recognize no matter the exact date. Because gender bias persists in and outside of the workplace. And it is holding the world back.

So show your support. Wear red on Wednesday, and share these links with friends:

Patricia Arquette gets it: The real gender wage gap is for moms (Washington Post)

The Fatherhood Bonus and Motherhood Penalty (Third Way)

Equal Pay for Equal Work: Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (ACLU)

Picked up her skirts, kicked off her heels

by Emma Cotler Powers

Prosperity Candle is about independence, women’s entrepreneurship, and breaking the mold. That’s something I can relate to.

I come from a family of women, literally and metaphorically. My grandmother is the matriarch. After fitting the mold of the model woman at an early age of 23 she picked up her skirts, kicked off her heels, and ran away to New York City where she became an artist.

She was playing with csculpturelay, doing mostly abstraction, when suddenly one of her creations looked at her. She started to make a crowd of them – crones, she called them.

The dictionary definition of a crone brings to mind witches, hags and just general unpleasantness. Hers, though, were full of meat, life and heartache. They hung on the walls in her old apartment, arranged in waves as if they were climbing and descending hills. I looked at their non-faces, for they were just hooded holes, and imagined my ancestors making their way to America. “A crone is a woman with the wisdom of years,” my grandmother told me.

I never questioned her confident dismissal of the negative connotations surrounding the word. I simply accepted her broader view, her kinder view. I instinctively understood that wisdom in women is feared and distorted.

She had three equally strong and rebellious daughters. I am one of her two granddaughters. When I look in the mirror I see a lucky woman, but a woman nonetheless: someone whose face is a drawing board for the world to sketch upon. The word woman is still so fraught with meaning that my face is alight with it.

I urge all of us to pick up our metaphorical skirts and kick off our metaphorical heels – to break the mold and show others the way – in celebration of International Women’s Day.

My grandmother, a silver haired crone of 86, would applaud loudly.

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