In 2009, Prosperity Candle began as a project in Baghdad, Iraq. Partnering with Women for Women International, the organization trained 50 women survivors of war to make candles in their homes, and help rebuild their lives through economic empowerment. “Our original intent was to create economic opportunities for women in regions of conflict (due to war, natural disasters, etc) but we realized that we could expand that and make a local impact by also supporting women recently resettled from conflict regions in our own backyard,” founder Ted Barber tells CH.
Today in Easthampton, Massachusetts, Prosperity Candle—now a certified B Corp and L3C (a hybrid of a for-profit and a nonprofit venture)—offers recently resettled women refugees the opportunity to earn living wages. “We pay nearly twice the minimum wage in Massachusetts to our hourly workers,” says Barber. “Not because we’re profitable enough to do so, but because it’s the right thing to do. It also minimizes turnover, results in higher quality products and creates a better work environment.” It’s allowed women like Moo Kho, who came from a refugee camp outside of Burma, to start as apprentice candle-makers. Kho is now a production manager, training newcomers, and even has a profit share in the company.
The product itself is of the highest quality—the soy blend Forever Candle is poured by the women and encased in a thick glass vessel, available in five different fragrances (or unscented, if you prefer). The vessel can be repurposed as a container, for food or drinking or even as a planter, but Prosperity Candle offers an enticing alternative: simply cover shipping costs ($12), and they’ll refill the candle with the fragrance of your choice (meaning you can try all five eventually) at no extra charge. Meaning the burn time is, technically, forever. Lighting the candle becomes a symbolic gesture made even more touching by the story—and brighter future—it holds.
Forever Candles are available for $65 online. Lifetime refills are available with some reasonable restrictions.
Images courtesy of Prosperity Candle