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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Mar. 22, 2018 1 year ago

Collective Kindness opens second location in historic Oakland home

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Collective Kindness, the soy-candle shop created by a local mother-daughter duo, now has a second location at a historic home in Oakland.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

OAKLAND  Open the door to the historic white house on South Tubb Street in Oakland and you’ll immediately find yourself entering a treasure trove. 

This old house is the newest home of Collective Kindness, a mission-based shop that specializes in premium soy wax candles. It’s run by mother-daughter duo Liz and Leah Jennings, and with the new location now open the shop has expanded to include so much more. 

The candle business began when the two wanted to create a candle that was both environmentally conscious and hypoallergenic, as Leah’s daughter has severe asthma and allergies.They began selling the candles at the Windermere farmer’s market before coming to the Winter Garden market, and within a year had built up a solid following that propelled them into a space at the Plant Street Market.

“…As we grew our biggest thing was that (we became a) certified green business,” Leah said. “We wanted to create something that would give people a reason to come back, too. If you're done burning your candle and bring back your container we will give you 20% off toward your next candle. You can also bring in your own containers and have them filled.”

They have had people bring in containers ranging from tea cups and valuable antiques to Trader Joes spaghetti jars and even an Elvis cookie jar. At Collective Kindness, Liz said, the sky is the limit.

In the wake of their growing success, the two decided it was time to take on another new adventure — renting their new location and making it their own.

“After our second year at the Plant Street Market we started really thinking about how we’ve really grown this business over the last two years, and going into the third year we were up tremendously as well,” Leah said. “We only had this 45-square-foot space and we wanted somewhere we could do more in the community. We knew we wanted to grow but didn’t want to go into a typical brick-and-mortar store. We wanted to create something unique that you haven’t seen before — a space that was ours, and where we invited a couple of very key, amazing vendors whose products we love.” 

"It’s just a really cool vibe in here that we’re glad we can create. We want people to feel like this is a home, where they can gather on the back porch, be creative and relax.” - Leah Jennings

The two started looking for different properties in Ocoee, Oakland and Clermont. They drove by the house — located at 4 S. Tubb St. in Oakland — and Leah pointed to the house and said, “I want that.” 

Fortunately for them, the house became available to rent not long after. It was previously used as a hair salon, and the landlord heard their vision for it he gave them the opportunity to rent and make it their own. They officially took over the property on Jan. 1.

What’s unique, though, is that they have also included other local vendors in their project. Customers can walk through the house and buy not only candles from Collective Kindness, but also items like stationery, jewelry, plants and more. There’s also a cafe area at the back of the house, which offers coffee, tea, snacks and more.

“The community needs more spaces like this,” Liz said. “This house has been many, many things, but hasn’t reached its full potential in a long, long time. It’s this beautiful historic home that needed to be loved and upgraded and used so the whole community could enjoy it, inside and out. Oakland is trying to elevate itself a little bit. There’s not a lot of retail here at all, but their goal is to make this corridor a little commerce district. We feel like we’re kind of the anchor of that now.”

Although their business is now headquartered in the 2,500-square-foot house, they continue to sell their products at the Plant Street Market.

“We’ve been working really hard,” Leah said. “It’s a labor of love. We have so many amazing people helping. We’re working and partnering with a lot of local, amazing vendors and we have a lot of really strong women and helpful guys behind this, too. (whom) we couldn’t do this without. It’s just a really cool vibe in here that we’re glad we can create. We want people to feel like this is a home, where they can gather on the back porch, be creative and relax.”

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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