Milk Jar Candle Company: A Fresh Light on Change in Calgary
August 23, 2022
Calgary’s Milk Jar Candle Company is business born to do good.
And that single minded dedication to the welfare of others has shaped a growing business that’s doing well and doing a lot to re-shape attitudes and remove barriers for the disabled.
First flickers of this enlightened business were sparked when Milk Jar CEO Holly Singer began experimenting in her kitchen, developing non-toxic candles created with non-petroleum waxes derived from natural soy and coconut. The craft candles were a hit with friends. And that might have been that.
But Holly was moved to try selling her candles at a charity market set up to support survivors of Alberta’s 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires. She’s been hustling to keep up with demand ever since.
A key inspiration is a commitment to donate a dollar to disability-focussed charities, for every candle sold. Currently, the young enterprise has raised over $160,000 for organizations helping children and adults with disabilities.
Milk Jar’s commercial mission is to create more inviting spaces with beautiful smelling natural wax and wood wick candles.
And their new style candles have made a powerful impression on Calgarians. The product’s success led to demand for custom candles, with specially crafted scents and designer labels made exclusively for local businesses. Result? Even faster growth.
With production doubling every year, Milk Jar Candle Company soon moved from basement facilities to its current 5600 sq ft location. Beyond production, the company offers candle making workshops in this space. And it’s here that people have an opportunity to encounter the candle company’s inspiring working environment – an environment where one third of the employees have a disability.
“At first we thought we doing something for them,” Singer recently told an interviewer.
But soon it became obvious that creating a work space where everyone could feel safe and included brought tremendous benefits to the company.
Milk Jar’s inclusivity philosophy influences the company’s approach to pricing too.
Although they offer a unique and sought-after specialty product, candles are deliberately priced reasonably, so they can be accessible to everyone.
Holly Singer came to the business of candle making via an unexpected route. She’s a graduate of the University of Calgary with a BSc in Kinesiology. During her studies she learned about adaptations in physical activity that can be made for people with disabilities. Today she engages that set of understandings in her work creating a more inclusive working environment at the candle company.
In 2021 Milk Jar Candle Company captured the attention of the city when CEO Holly Singer was chosen as one of the Top 40 under 40 by Calgary’s Avenue Magazine.
Singer’s inclusive hiring practises, determination to lead the creation of workplaces that work for everyone and dedication to raising both awareness and money for the city’s disabled, seem to point to a new model for successful entrepreneurship: businesses that put human well-being first.
Business growth at Milk Jar means more power to challenge out-dated hiring and workplace practises, remove barriers and create more opportunities for the disability community. Environmental sustainability and community learning are also on the radar. And the company’s products do their part too, creating more inviting spaces at Calgary’s homes and workplaces.
Businesses built for people? It’s all good.