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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jun. 1, 2016 2 years ago

Candle business gives mother-daughter duo the resources to help others

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A Winter Garden candle business ignited out of a desire to fund doing good.
by: Jennifer Nesslar Reporter

Kindness is priceless.

Those were the three words that spurred Leah Thompson into action. 

Thompson was tired of seeing negative stories on Facebook, but one day, a friend posted “Kindness is priceless.” That was all she needed to realize that a simple act of kindness could change someone’s whole day. 

Thompson, who lives in Windermere, was looking to get her daughter involved in community activities and serving, so she started the Kindness is Priceless Project. She took her daughter and mother with her to feed the homeless and take gift packs to firefighters. It was difficult to find places where all three could serve together, and on top of that, the ways they were serving became expensive. 

Not wanting to stop, they built a business out of it.

Because Thompson and her mother, Liz Jennings, loved candles, they decided to make a business around the craft. They spent tial oils and candle-making.

“We wanted to create something that we can use in our house, that people will love, that have many, many purposes,” Leah Thompson said. “People have candles for relaxation, for memory, for honoring someone, for romance. Candles are used in so many different types of activities in our lives.” 

Collective Kindness was born. 

A BEAUTIFUL MISSION

They started out selling candles at markets but soon moved to a permanent location at the Plant Street Market in Winter Garden. 

Each quarter, Thompson and Jennings pick an organization, charity, cause or person to support. One quarter, they supported family trying to raise funds for adoption. They’ve supported OCA — A Special Place for Special Needs, not only raising funds but also volunteering. This quarter, they are working with the VFW Auxiliary in Winter Garden as well as helping to plan a Memorial Day event at Plant Street Market. 

They call their business “Beautiful Candles with a Beautiful Mission.”

Thompson’s daughter had severe allergies, so they felt it important to make candles without the most harmful chemicals such as phthalates and nitro musk. Their candles contain a soy wax vegetable base.

Candles range in price depending on line and container, but candle containers are completely reusable. Many containers are made of recycled glass, and those who bring the glass containers back will get a 25% discount on a refill. 

But they fill more than just glass. They put candles in bowls, antique tea cups and even a 1910 Artstyle Chocolates Candy Tin.

IN LOVING MEMORY

A man ran through Plant Street Market, exclaiming, “I smell honeysuckle. Where is that?”

Jennings, who lives in Winter Garden, told him they sold honeysuckle jasmine candles and held one out for him to smell. 

As he inhaled, tears filled his eyes. His mother died a few weeks ago, he told Jennings. She alway grew honeysuckles and jasmine, so the candle reminded him so much of her. 

He bought it and every time he returned since, it was the only scent he would buy. 

“Who knew candles could be so emotional?” Jennings said. “But they are. They evoke a lot of emotion, because people light candles in memory of other people. So when the container is also special, it will remind them of that person.”

IN BUSINESS TOGETHER

At the beginning of the week, Thompson and Jennings work out of a studio in Ocoee, creating the candles. It is a laborious process, as candles take time to pour correctly.

But they find the process cathartic, and they love being in business together. 

“We’ve always been extremely close, but it’s just such an awesome opportunity for us to be able to work together,” Thompson said. 

Ultimately, they hope to open another space where they can combine a storefront with a production space, allowing them to teach classes and get others involved. However, they plan to retain their place in the Plant Street Market, as well. 

 

Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected].

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