In April 2010, a few weeks before Mother’s Day, Prosperity Candle founders Amber Chand, Siiri Morley and Ted Barber drove from their Boston office to JFK Airport in New York City to pick up their first ever shipment of candles. These candles were made by 50 women – “chandler-entrepreneurs” – living in war-torn Baghdad, Iraq. This was the first test – would the candles survive the journey? Apprehension was quickly replaced by pride and joy at the sight of perfectly made, unscathed candles. They made it, and for the first time Chand, Morley and Barber saw the fruits of their labor. “As of today”, wrote Morley, “50 women in a place of conflict have been given the opportunity to start their own businesses.”
Through candle-making, Prosperity Candle is providing women who live in regions ravaged by armed conflict, and human and natural disaster with an opportunity to rebuild their lives and share their stories with the world. Launched in 2009, this small (but growing) social enterprise has had a tremendous impact, one candle at a time. Their mission is bold but they’re finding success in a simple philosophy: “Every candle is a vehicle for social change and global connection.”
After that first shipment, sales would provide the next important test. Mother’s Day, just around the corner, provided the perfect opportunity to launch the product. Each candle is sent with the name of the maker on the label. The receiver can then go online to Prosperity Candle’s Voices to read the chandler’s story and even send her a message. There was an outpouring of messages from mothers across the US who weren’t simply enjoying their candles but deeply affected by the woman-to-woman connection the gift enabled.
With an effective supply chain, the final test was that of their guiding philosophy: How did these women, living in one of the world’s most dangerous cities, feel about their new business? After their second shipment, Prosperity Candle touched base with Women for Women International, its partner in Iraq. Once again the feedback was positive and heart-felt. Most notably, Morley asserts, these women believe that their candles fulfill a higher social purpose and are enabling them to connect with others across the globe.
(Read their inspiring testimonials here.)
Prosperity Candle has since begun working with women refugees from Burma and Bhutan who have resettled in West Springfield, MA. The company is also exploring opportunities in Haiti, Rwanda and Afghanistan, and developing partnerships with larger organizations – both for- and not-for-profits – that share their mission.
This young organization has completed an astounding ten Catchafire projects. We’re extremely proud of the pro bono professionals who have worked with Prosperity Candle to help them build capacity, share their story and make an impact. Morley says her Catchafire professionals have provided the organization with “energy, expertise and objectivity,” three qualities that a young social good organization thrives on. She also noted that great pro bono professionals not only provide much-needed skills but also a shared passion for their cause, and a sense of flexibility that a growing organization needs. Morley talks fondly of pro bono professionals like Stephanie Leydon, a communications specialist, who comfortably and effectively “put herself in our shoes” to meet their specific needs and of others, like copywriter Sara Buschkamp, who, in their initial meeting, eloquently stated, “you can’t read the label from the inside of the bottle” and provided the organization with new energy and a fresh perspective.
Prosperity Candle currently has a blog that’s integrated into their WordPress website. They’re looking for a technically-skilled and creative pro bono professional to help them create a playful, spirited and reflective WordPress blog that’s distinct from their website. Click here if you’re interested in being a part of this organization’s incredible narrative.