This article is part of our series on small companies with a big mission in five areas: women, kids, community, planet, and hope. Click here for more articles in the series.
Does your go-to stress therapy routine involve candles? You’re not alone. U.S. candle sales are estimated at more than $2 billion a year.
For all the benefits you may get from the ambient glow and soothing scent, you could be depriving yourself of the full benefit of a good, old-fashioned candle-burning session if you’re using standard paraffin wax candles.
In fact, you may even be exposing yourself to carcinogens because paraffin wax comes from petroleum.
The release of toxins into the air upon burning isn’t the only drawback to this all-too-common type of candle. But we only know that because there’s an increasingly popular alternative for comparison: soy candles.
Candles for the Planet … and New Moms
The benefits of soy candles range from personal to planetary.
First, there’s the all-important matter of scent: Soy candles actually hold and release it better than traditional candles.
Soy candles are also toxin-free and cleaner burning. They’re made from soybeans, a natural, renewable resource often grown by local farmers. They burn at a slower rate and a lower temperature, which means they last longer than paraffin candles of the same size.
That in itself creates less waste—a good thing, considering the sheer number of candles a serial candle-burner may go through. And when they do reach the end of their useful life, soy candles are biodegradable, while paraffin wax is not.
So, any soy candle purchase is a vote for multiple social goods. But the good doesn’t have to stop there.
In the case of Bright Endeavors, soy candles also help light the way toward strong families and bright futures. That’s because Bright Endeavors is a social enterprise of New Moms, a Chicago nonprofit that provides housing, family support, and job training to young mothers aged 24 and under.
Breaking the Cycle of Poverty
Some 97% of the women who come to New Moms are experiencing poverty, so a transitional job and professional skills training are key to a brighter future for both generations. The comprehensive, fully paid, 16-week job training program is designed to make sure that young moms who finish the program feel empowered to enter the workforce with complete education goals.
Bright Endeavors was founded as an independent company in 2007, and New Moms placed a number of job training program participants there in the early years. Eventually, the founders of Bright Endeavors decided to transition out of the business at the same time New Moms was exploring the possibility of an in-house social enterprise.
Bright Endeavors was brought under the New Moms umbrella in 2010. Since then, over 500 young women have come through the job training program.
“It fluctuates from year to year, but we had between 70 and 80 moms in our program from 2019,” says Allie Sundet, marketing and engagement director at Bright Endeavors. “Our official stat from 2019 is that over 60% of young moms who participated in the 16-week paid training with Bright Endeavors found permanent employment after the program.”
Improvement and Empowerment
If that seems like an impressive outcome after a few months of candle-making, that’s because it is. But it’s also by design. The training program is structured to make the ins and outs specific to candle-making totally transferable.
“We use our executive skills framework with candle-making,” Allie says. “Executive skills are ones that everybody has. And for each participant, we identify which ones are areas of strength, and which ones are what we call ‘in the warming pot.’”
In Bright Endeavors-speak, the warming pot consists of areas where each participant can focus on improvement and growth. Within that framework—using a family-centered approach with a racial equity lens—every young mom who goes through the Bright Endeavors paid training cycle works with a New Moms Supportive Employment Coach to come up with a personalized career and education plan.
Every dime of a Bright Endeavors purchase goes towards empowering young moms, their kids, and ultimately entire communities in Greater Chicago. And candle buyers can support that mission while enjoying the fragrances and wellness rituals they already love.
With floral, citrus, woody, and holiday scent varieties in three sizes—plus an array of special edition items at any given time—Bright Endeavors has something for casual and serial candle-burners alike.
Unlike the paraffin-based products that have become the industry norm, you can light a Bright Endeavors candle knowing that everything that goes into it is lighting the way for a better, healthier, and brighter future—from your immediate stress remedy to long-term outcomes for mothers and families.
Spend for good: Bright Endeavors is offering an exclusive discount to Cause Consumer readers when you shop the online store, where 100% of sales go back into New Moms’ essential work with young mothers in Chicago. Just use discount code BrightCause at checkout for 15% off your entire order! Expires Oct. 1, 2020.
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