Tag Archives: gifts that support women

Celebrating 9 Years of Impact

Prosperity Candle's impact over the years include Iraqi widows, Haitian women, female artisans in Kashmir, and women refugees from Burma and Bhutan, all making fair trade soy blend ethically handmade candles

This month marks 9 years – nine! – since the idea of empowering women in places of conflict through candle-making first took shape over a cannoli in a pastry shop in Northampton, MA. As 2017 winds down and we reflect on the journey so far, we are feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

It hasn’t been the easiest path. Prosperity Candle was conceived in 2008 as the financial meltdown was growing here and spreading across the world. The economy was teetering, conflict in Iraq was never-ending, and few people were supportive our idea.

Amber, Siiri and Ted had worked for years with women artisans in Afghanistan, Rwanda, Sudan and Kosovo – all places of conflict. They saw how the long shadow of war placed an especially heavy burden on women who were the least likely to receive economic support.

So they decided to do something about it. But it had have the potential to change a life for the long-term, to help someone create a brighter future for herself. Beyond charity, it needed to invest in women as entrepreneurs to enable them to not just survive, but truly thrive.

Prosperity Candle's certifications for fair trade, women owned, B-Corp, handmade by refugees and Best for the World

Our founders sought deep and lasting impact, and to foster independence that could have a ripple effect across a community. After much searching and a few bad ideas, it turned out that candles and candle-making were perfect for what they wanted to do.

The journey from that pastry shop to today has many twists and turns, and a few moments of doubt. If you’re curious, read The Full Story.

The short version is that we overcame a bunch of challenges, and today the vision of creating economic opportunities for women extends to refugees here in Western Massachusetts. We are incredibly honored to work with these resilient individuals, mostly from Burma where they endured suffering and loss as they fled for their lives.

Ma Kaing a Burmese woman refugee who now helps make fair trade soy blend candles at Prosperity Candle

Like Ma Kaing who joined our candle-making team a few weeks ago. She came to the U.S. through UN and federal resettlement programs after living for more than 10 years in a refugee camp. With her brother and parents, she was forced out of her home and village by a military regime, leaving behind everything she knew and cherished.

Life in the refugee camp was safe, but hard. Ma Kaing took care of her parents, forgoing an education and spending most of her time growing food. When she and her husband arrived in the U.S., they had one wish: that their children go to school and receive the education they had been denied.

At age 36, making candles is Ma Kaing’s first job. Last week, she received her first paycheck.

Prosperity Candle’s studio is a small but happy space in a repurposed mill building that once housed Stanley Home Products, maker of brushes and cleaners. With wood floors and 12-foot tall windows that look out to a mountainside, it’s a beautiful place to work.

But what makes it special is the sound of laughter… women artisans pouring and packaging candles, sharing in their own languages, celebrating the everyday joys of life. They are a continual inspiration to us. The hardships they have faced and overcome are beyond our imagining, yet here they are making one another laugh.

As we prepare to enter our 10th year, we would like to express our gratitude to you for helping to make this social enterprise possible. Your purchase of candles and gifts, and sharing Prosperity Candle’s story, is the reason we are here today and still growing our impact. You are the reason we could give Ma Kaing a living wage job.

Here is the impact you have supported:

Prosperity Candle impact on women artisans in Haiti Iraq Refugees in the U.S. living wages and fair trade

Prosperity Candle giving in donations and loans and investing in women entrepreneurs around the world for fair trade

Prosperity Candle and fair trade artisan made handcrafted good purchased and total candles sold

From all of us here in the studio, a huge thank you for helping spread light far beyond your homes. And an equally big thank you to our partners, new and old, who support our mission. We are continually energized by your work, and by the many other social enterprises helping to solve problems and create a more equitable world.

To everyone who has been there along the way, lifting us up when times were tough and celebrating the milestones, you are truly the best.

Here’s to doing all we can to create a brighter future for everyone, everywhere.

 

Peace Joy Gratitude soy blend fair trade candles ethically handmade by women artisans at Prosperity Candle

World Gratitude Day 2016

World Gratitude Day Prosperity Candle

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

What are you grateful for?

The answer to this simple question can unlock the fullness of our lives. It turns what we already have into enough – and more… into a recognition of abundance. On this Sunday we are taking a moment to celebrate World Gratitude Day, which was officially a few days ago. Since 1965, September 21 has been celebrated as a day to appreciate all that we have in our lives, and reflect on the meaning of gratitude.

Even in the darkest and most challenging of times, there is still some light and something to be grateful for. While we can’t always control events adversely affecting our lives and communities, or people across the world, we can make an effort to focus on the positive as often as possible, and express appreciation to those around us.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it,” said author William Arthur Ward. That seems an apt metaphor. More importantly, it got each of us here thinking about what we are thankful for, yet never say so. A lot, it turns out. The more you think about it, the more you realize how rarely we express gratitude for everyday things that go right, that nourish you, that contribute positively people’s lives.

That’s why in recognition of World Gratitude Day, we’d like to start a wave of gratitude… of sharing over the next two weeks what we each appreciate and are thankful for.

So what are YOU feeling grateful about? Share your answer on Facebook and tag a friend! Let’s see if we can generate not just a wave, but tsunami of gratitude for things big and small, consequential and seemingly trivial. Every share gives you and your friend a chance to each win a Burmese Gratitude Candle.

We’ll start. Here are 3 things we are deeply grateful for:

Women Artisans and Our Partners

The Little Market Lauren Conrad Prosperity Candle

We started this small social enterprise to support women in and from regions of conflict, helping them to build new lives and a brighter future. Turns out they have given us far more in return… we are grateful for their friendship, how our lives have been enriched by their traditions, and the meaningful connection across cultures. (And on the more trivial side, we are grateful for incredible lunches featuring dishes we’ve never heard of – yum!).

Of course, none of this would be possible without partners who embrace fair trade principles and care as much as we do about the good a handmade product can do.  From stores like Ten Thousand Villages to organizations like CARE and companies like Univision, we are incredibly grateful that so many people bring their values to work and help ensure that everything they do – even events gifts – are in alignment with those values.

The Little Market, founded by Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla, is one of our favorite partners. Their mission to empower women artisans complements ours, and we simply love working with their team. It’s amazing what kindness can achieve in business relationships… we so often hear about the opposite, the fiercely competitive side of commerce. Yet there are countless examples where businesses are created for the greater good to positively impact people’s lives and the environment. The Little Market is one of those companies, and we are grateful for their partnership.

Global Impact

World Gratitude Day Prosperity Candle

That we can live in a small town in Western Massachusetts, work out of a beautiful studio in an old mill building, collaborate with women in places like Haiti and Iraq, and purchase handcrafted vessels from artisans in over 20 countries around the world, is amazing. A few years ago we were a couple of people with the silly idea of changing lives through candle-making. Today we’re a few more who are actually making that silly idea happen, one candle at a time.

We also appreciate the international groups that recognize the uniqueness of our mission and model, and have made room for us in their membership. The World Fair Trade Organization and B-Corp, which recognizes Prosperity Candle as a Best for the World enterprise alongside the likes of Warby Parker, are two we are especially grateful to.

YOU!

World Gratitude Day Prosperity Candle

Let’s face it, without people like you, businesses that prioritize social good could not exist. Conscious consumers care as much about how a product is made as the design and price. Everyone loves a deal and the convenience of shopping on Amazon. We all care about the world, but we’re also busy and mindful of expenses. So it takes an especially thoughtful individual to take the extra step of “shopping for change” as a friend of ours puts it.

Thank you. Since our beginnings in 2009 – before we were even a real entity – you have followed us, purchased candles made by women artisans, and shared a message of creating a brighter future for all. You have made Prosperity Candle what it is today… still small and unconventional, but sustainable and contributing to a better world.

We pour every candle by hand one at a time, usually the day it’s ordered so we can make exactly what a customer asks for. That much care doesn’t lend itself to mass production – everything we do is as “small batch” as it gets – and is only possible when people recognize the value in this. We are incredibly grateful that so many do.

Finally, we are grateful to our families, friends and mentors who have given us such unconditional support and understanding. We couldn’t even begin to count the ways you have helped make Prosperity Candle possible. Thank you so very, very much.

Gratitude Candle

Gratitude Candle Prosperity Candle

Now it’s your turn!  Click here to express your gratitude and for a chance to win a Burmese Gratitude Candle for yourself and a friend. Winners will be randomly selected on October 15, 2016. Good luck!

 #WorldGratitudeDay   #ThankYou   #gift

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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.

Forget the Frenetic Commercials from Big Box Retailers: Support Women This Holiday!

I don’t have cable anymore, which is sometimes a bummer when I have to wait a whole season to watch favorite shows (currently missing positive female role model Leslie Knope on Parks & Rec!).  But what I don’t miss at all are commercials, especially this time of year.

They’re incredibly loud, incredibly bright, and even a little bit anxiety-inducing, as they insist you throw your holiday dollars at whatever’s trendy, whatever’s new, and whatever (let’s be honest) they’ll make the most money on.  For me, at least, it’s really easy to get swept up in all that insanity, and forget about the things that really matter.

Combating the in-your-face, mindless consumerism of the season was our goal when we put together our 2012 guide to Gifts That Give Back to Women.  It features fair trade and handmade gifts from great online retailers like IndegoAfrica, 31Bits, and Maiden Nation (and, yes, a few of our personal favorites from our holiday collection).

Even better, the gifts in this guide are made by women around the world.  I hope the product in this guide inspire you to create change this holiday season by buying socially conscious gifts and spreading the word to your loved ones.  We encourage you to check out the Gifts That Give Back to Women guide, share it with your friends, purchase women-made items, and make this holiday season even brighter with meaningful gifts.

This has been a Public Service Announcement from Prosperity Candle. 🙂

Gift better!

Prosperity Candle Tops “Buying XX for Xmas: A Holiday Guide”

 

Prosperity Candle featured in women-led business holiday gift guide by Skinny Scoop and HonestlyNow

We are thrilled to be included in the revolutionary XX for XXMas, a holiday gift guide that aims to connect women shoppers with women-led businesses. There is tremendous consumer power amongst women and now Skinny Scoop, HonestlyNow and Change the Ratio have teamed up to curate a ground-breaking list of women-led gift companies. We’re thrilled to be in good company with other gifts that give back — groups like SweetRiot, Baking for Good & FEED Projects are all represented as well. Gifts by women, for women. What could be better?

Prosperity Candle's Raise Your Voice Coffee & Candle empowers women and works towards an end of violence for women - it also supports Equal Exchange in Congo and Amnesty in Burma

So find a gift that gives back and empowers women as business owners – both here in the U.S. and further afield – in this incredible holiday gift guide. Check out our incredible Raise Your Voice Coffee & Candle gift set in the gift guide. It’s stealing the show, if you ask us!