Who would have thought that hand-poured soy candles would become a hot-selling item? They have, thanks to the hard work of STARability Foundation participants.
The Naples-based nonprofit’s social enterprise, the STAR*Made Studio, works with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to create socially responsible products that highlight each person’s ability and creativity.
The studio employs two STARability participants and currently provides vocational training to 15 adults and teenagers enrolled in the organization’s community-based day programs, and more than 30 when in-person programming operates at full capacity.
Visit the studio at the STAR Store and you will see participants hard at work making candles that have become one of the store’s top-selling items. The intricate candle making process creates a space for participants to contribute to a beautiful, finished product. It also provides a way for participants to express themselves, learn individual tasks and work as a team to achieve a vocational goal.
“Whether a participant is assembling the wicks, measuring ingredients, melting and pouring the wax, applying stickers, cutting ribbon—they can take pride in their work and know it is essential to the end result,” says Cayla Childs, who oversees the STAR*Made Studio as STARability’s Director of Communications and Special Initiatives. “It is a joy to see, as is the recognition of their abilities by our patrons.”
Word about the candles has gotten around town. Businesses have placed orders for hundreds of candles for their corporate events and promotions. And in December, the studio relaunched the candles with a new look, fresh formula and beautiful scents that will rotate each season.
STARabilityis expanding its purposeful enterprise by partnering with Products of Purpose, a Fort Myers based company that collaborates with nonprofits to provide job training and employment opportunities.
Product of Purpose supplies the studio with greeting cards and other items that STARability participants complete in the manufacturing process.
“With the partnership, we are opening new doors and opportunities for our STAR participants to learn new skills and create new products,” says STARability CEO Karen Govern. Products of Purpose works cooperatively with local 501(c)3organizations and community agencies to provide job training and employment opportunities to the people they serve. We think this is a real win-win for the STAR Store and our participants.”
The Studio’s new candle look and formula launched with its holiday collection, which included seasonal favorites like this Warm Vanilla Sugar scent.
Trailblazer Academy participants like Tori and Thomas (seated), pictured here with two instructors, contribute to the candle enterprise every week. The studio also provides vocational training for the Junior Trailblazer Academy and paid employment for two STAR participants.
What: The STARability Foundation serves 300 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Its mission is to transform the lives of individuals with disabilities through social, vocational, and educational connections to the community, while strengthening awareness and respect for individual abilities.
Where: STAR Store and STAR*Made Studio are located at 106 10th St. North in the Naples Design District.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
More information: Please call 239-263-1894 or email
STARstore@STARability.org for more information about the
STAR Store and STAR*Made Studio. To learn more about the
STARability Foundation, visit STARability.org
or call 239-594-9007.