Interviews · Small Business

Beautiful Candles with a Beautiful Mission: Collective Kindness

Hello friends!

Today’s article is about two inspiring women who have turned their passion for helping other people into a business.

Collective Kindness Logo

Liz and Leah are a mother/daughter team of entrepreneurs in Central Florida who make candles under their brand Collective Kindness. When I met them for the interview, they both were genuinely kind people whose passion for helping others was contagious.

Beautiful Candles with a Beautiful Mission

Collective Kindness started out as a passion project for the two ladies and now has grown into a full-fledged business. Leah was looking for opportunities for her then 12-year-old daughter to do things to help the community. Finding a lack of opportunities to serve the community, they started doing kindness projects themselves, funding them out of their own pocket. They soon realized that they would have to start making money to continue these kindness acts.

Having served on many charitable boards and working with charities in the past, they realized that starting their own nonprofit or charity could limit their options on what they could accomplish. So, instead of starting their own charity, they made their own candle making business: Collective Kindness.

They started out at the Windermere Farmer’s Market where they quickly started to gain a following.

What Makes Them Unique

They really wanted to make a candle that was different. Both Liz and Leah’s oldest daughter are very sensitive to fragrances and allergens that can be typically found in commercially produced products. It was important for them to research how to make a “green” candle. They needed to learn how to make something that looked good and smelled great but would not be harmful to people, their pets, or their homes.

They invested a lot of time and money to make their product the best it could be. Liz mentioned that there are so many grades of wax, wicks, and fragrance oils that they continually test to create the best possible product that they can.

They currently have over 60 scents that are featured in different collections. Ranging from botanical to gentleman’s to boho to seasonal they really have a scent for everyone. According to Liz, scent is a very personal thing and that is why they offer so much variety to make sure that everyone is satisfied with their product. The vessels that they use are also important to their business. From classic tins and glass containers to vintage tea cups or beer cans, the vessels that they use are as unique as any other element of the candles.

It is all about repurposing and reusing. They wanted to be the most sustainable they could be. Even the wrap bags and tissue paper are from recycled paper. The candles are vegan and certified kosher, as well. The candles themselves have no phthalates which are chemicals found in many mass-produced candles.  The wicks have no lead or zinc and are 100% cotton. They are also a certified green business.

Tea Cup candle Picture

Wanting to give old objects such as tea cups new life lead them to start their recycle and refill program which now is a mainstay of their business. Not only are most of their containers recycled, but they want you to reuse them as well, offering a 20% discount off the next candle if you bring in the old container (excluding vintage and antiques).

They also offer custom pouring. During the interview, they joked between them that they often get gorgeous antiques and beautiful bowls to turn into candles, but sometimes they also get a Trader Joes spaghetti jar to fill. They are proud of this aspect of their business as it is another way to repurpose.

Another core aspect of their company that is important to them is their branding. The branding on their main collections stay the same but they have distinctive designs for special collections. In this way they guarantee not only a great candle but a beautiful package as well.

They added in plants about two years ago to further their home collection. They sell succulents and air plants. They get these plants from their own garden or from a local company called Live Trends out of Apopka. They also sell other small gift items such as tumbled Italian marble coasters and hand painted porcelain bowls. In the future, they want to expand their offerings to feature more local artists.

For now, almost everything is kept within the family or through friends. Liz’s sister makes the coasters and they hand pour the candles themselves. They have a connection with local artist Susan Steele Meyer who creates designs that you can only find in Collective Kindness’s shop. She will sell to different vendors but she will not paint the same designs. These hand-painted bowls fly off the shelf every Christmas because they are keepsake items that their customers want to enjoy for years to come.

They love it whenever customers become obsessed with their candles. Liz recounted a story of a recent event where a young man came to her and said “Hi! I’m Rob and I am your biggest fan.” They like being the proverbial light for people who may not have been able to enjoy candles before, such as people undergoing chemotherapy or who have severe allergies. They recounted another story of a woman who came in and said, “I have loved candles all my life but my son has severe allergies and I have never been able to have them in the house until now.” They find it gratifying that they can bring joy into people’s lives through their product.

Giving Back

Libby's Legacy Candle

Featured above is the Libby’s Legacy honor candle which supports breast cancer awareness with every purchase

Since it is their own business they can help with whatever projects that they want. They can pick a person, an organization, or a local business and use the proceeds from their business to give back.  They have helped children with special needs, breast cancer research, and The Habitat for Humanity. They chaired a build where they raised money for two women’s homes. They helped a family through the adoption process. They pay attention to the needs that they see around them and then give back wherever they can. Liz said that they don’t pick the project, the project picks them. Every single project they have done or person they have helped has started by simply talking to someone and listening to the need.

They try to stay as local as possible because they really want their dollars to impact their own community. It means a lot to them to be giving back and being an inspiration to others. They look forward to growing so they can expand their scope of giving even more.

Future Growth

They are working on future projects that will expand their outreach and potential to impact others. Some of these plans include partnering with other vendors to include more variety in their store and expanding space to create and give back to the community.

They currently have wholesale accounts and want to expand on that in the future. The dandelion logo has become synonymous with their business to the point where even the people at the tax office recognize the brand.

I asked if they saw it turn into the full-fledged business that it is today and Leah responded that they honestly didn’t. Leah just had her third child and didn’t expect this to happen. Liz and Leah have always been involved in giving back to charity. Leah said that her parents raised her to give back to the community. They had sat on charity boards in the past but realized that there was a void of businesses in the community whose core mission was giving back to community. They wanted to change that. When they started, they thought that it might just be something fun to do. Liz had a full-time job and Leah was a full- time mom. Within a year of them starting the business, it boomed to something that they could have never foreseen.

The Story That Started It All

Leah called Liz one day and said, “I am so tired of hearing bad news on the radio, on TV, and on Facebook. Let’s go do something positive today.” Liz having the day off said, “Ok what do you want to do?” “Let’s go feed people” Leah replied. So, they went to Publix bought some ingredients and went back home to make sandwiches. They then went down to Lake Eola and started feeding people simply by walking up to people and saying, “Are you hungry today?” Everyone was so responsive. They were so grateful that someone would take the time to simply be kind.

In talking to them, I could tell that this experience and other similar experiences really made an impact on the direction of their company. Shortly after this occurred, one of Leah’s friends posted a video with the tag “Kindness is Priceless” which soon became their mantra in giving. Leah explained that even their name, Collective Kindness, reflects this line of thinking. They consider everyone, including their customers, involved in the process a part of giving back. So, it truly is a collective kindness.

They really want people to get involved in the community, find out what they can do to help, and just be kind. Say “good morning.” Hold the door for someone else. Do the simple things that make someone’s day better. Be the light in the darkness.

Thank you so much Liz and Leah for your time! You both are amazing!

Picture of Collective Kindness shop

Picture of the Collective Kindness shop in Winter Garden

You can find Collective Kindness

At the Plant St. Market in Winter Garden, FL

Thursday-Saturday 10:00am-7:00pm Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm

On their Etsy shop: Collective Kindness Etsy Shop

Follow them on social media too!

Instagram: Instagram.com/collectivekindness

Facebook: Facebook.com/collectivekindness

Thank you for reading!

Remember to shop local and be kind! Have an amazing day!

-Amy