Why Refugees?

We began in 2009 working with war widows in regions of conflict, such as Iraq.

A few years later, one of our customers asked how we could have a local impact as well. We realized then how many refugees are resettled in the U.S. from these same places, and how much support is needed.

Welcoming refugees into this country is one of the best things we do as a nation. And helping refugees survive and build new lives, both here and around the world, is something we care deeply about.

Why focus on women?

Around the world, too many women have limited access to resources, education and positions of influence.

We believe that by empowering women economically we are helping to build greater peace and shared prosperity, and a brighter future for all.

We also believe in gender equality in all things, all identities, everywhere. Equal representation in politics, business, science, board rooms, community leadership - everything - strengthens organizations and communities, improves lives, and leads to a more sustainable world.

What does 'Designed for Good' mean?

Designed for good is our philsophy.

We believe that business should be a force for good in the world, and that doing well at the expense of people or the planet is just plain wrong. There is such a thing as the common good, and it matters. Responsibility to others and our community is as important as individual rights.

In every product lies the opportunity to help make the world a better place. Our candles are created from start to finish to positively impact people… you, the artisan who made your candle, and when given as a gift, the recipient too. From quality ingredients to the story behind each candle, we hope to brighten lives with something that is really good in the world.

And our products are designed with environmental impact in mind. From vessels to packaging, we are constantly working to reduce the footprint as part of our B Corp certification social and environmental sustainability.

Are you nonprofit or for-profit?

Both, actually... we’re a social enterprise, which is an organization created to address a community challenge such as poverty with a market-based approach for sustainable impact.

Our legal designation is an L3C, which is a low-profit limited liability company.

More simply, we're a hybrid. We prioritize social benefit over profit, as written in our founding documents. You can learn more about L3Cs at Americans for Community Development.

Do you practice fair trade?

Yes! Since our founding, we have supported the 10 fair trade principles of World Fair Trade Organization, with a particular focus on gender equality, respect for the environment, and living wages. We are B-Corp certified for social and environmental sustainability, recognized 2 years in a row by B-Lab as a Best for the World company.

What is your purpose?

Our purpose is to have a positive impact through social enterprise.

We want to see a more equitable world with fewer people living in poverty. Prosperity shared more broadly with opportunities for everyone to thrive. Gender equality in all things, all identities, everywhere. More joy, more compassion, more kindness, more gratitude.

We believe there is such a thing as the common good, and it matters. That responsibility to others and community is as important as individual rights. That in every product lives the possibility to help make the world a better place. And doing well at the expense of others or the environment is wrong.

We also believe that a livable wage is neither complicated nor infeasible, and that welcoming refugees into this country is among the best things we've ever done.

Not long ago someone walked into our studio to announce “Prosperity Candle is not performing to industry standards.” To this day it remains one of the nicest things anyone has ever said. We totally agree – we are consciously not performing to industry standards.


When did prosperity candle start?

The first ideas for helping expand artisan opportunities were jotted down sometime in 2004. But it wasn’t until 2008 that candles and a focus on women in regions of conflict crystallized.

We launched a pilot project in Baghdad in 2009 in partnership with Women for Women International, and Prosperity Candle was officially born in 2010. 

You can read more about our start in The Full Story.

Where do you work?

We started in Iraq working primarily with war widows and expanded to Haiti in 2012.

Today most of our candles are handmade by women artisans here in our Massachusetts studio, all of whom lived for many years as refugees before relocating to the U.S. through UN and federal programs.

Through purchases of unique vessels and accessories, we also impact lives in over 20 countries from Afghanistan and Bangladesh to Kenya, Rwanda and Nicaragua. The work in Iraq and Haiti has also expanded and continues under our sister nonprofit, Prosperity Catalyst.

Why Iraq?

From the start we believed in going where the need is greatest, and where few others are willing or able to go.

Our focus has been on regions of conflict and disaster where supporting women’s entrepreneurship can help rebuild lives and enable families to thrive.

Who are you?

We are a small group of people who believe that social enterprises can help solve many of the world’s problems. Our backgrounds span international development, business, literature, journalism and women’s studies.

Our founding team is Amber, Siiri and Ted. Today Prosperity Candle is a majority women-owned small business run by Patsy, Ted and Moo Kho who is a former refugee from Burma. The candle-makers in our Easthampton, MA studio are women refugees seeking a living wage and a first job opportunity... some are with us for years, others for a few months as they complete school and pursue their careers. Altogether we are 10-15 people at a time in the studio, plus hundreds of artisans who make candles and vessels for us in other countries.

And Riley! She's a rescued pup from Louisiana. We’re told she’s a mix of Labrador and Whippet, but who knows. She’s with us all the time, pretty much owns the studio's couch, and comes home every day smelling wonderful.

How much do the candle-makers earn?

One of the most common questions asked is how much of each candle goes to the woman who made it. From our perspective, the answer is 100%. Everything Prosperity Candle does, every decision we make, every moment of every day is dedicated to helping her thrive.

In terms of compensation, anywhere from 20% to 30% of the retail price of a candle goes to the woman who made it. We pay living wages to everyone in our studio regardless of background, education or experience.

One of our early designs, the Eva Bowl, was hand-painted by women artisans in Kashmir where conflict and natural disaster have devastated communities. These enamel bowls are fair-trade imported, then made into unique candles and gift packaged by women refugees here in the U.S. When sold for $28, 24% is for the re-usable bowl which includes compensation to the Kashmir women artisans, 22% goes to the women refugees in the U.S., 19% is for materials (wax, fragrance, gift packaging), and the balance of 35% covers rent and overhead.


Do you offer corporate gifts?

Yes! Our candles and gift sets are a great way for businesses and nonprofits to give gifts that give back. Perfect for clients, employees, conferences, speakers, Board members, donors and volunteers.

We offer unique products, exceptional quality, tremendous impact, and full customization. We design labels, packaging and note cards with your branding – logo, colors, messaging and more. It’s what we love to do.

Our clients are businesses and nonprofits of every type and size, and include Google, Oxfam, Microsoft, Univision, CARE, and Harvard University among many more.

Check out our corporate and custom gifts page.

Are the candles scented?

We make both scented and unscented (100% fragrance-free) candles in over 250 fragrances. Most are poured-to-order, which means we don’t make them until requested by a customer. This ensures we have inventory of even our most limited edition vessels available in any scent and our candles are always fresh.

What are the scents made from?

We use both pure essential oils and premium fragrances based on essential oils. Pure essential oils contain only botanical extracts. Fragrance oils include additional ingredients to improve scent throw and compatibility with waxes.

Our fragrance oils are used in cosmetics, soaps and other personal care products. All are skin-safe and phthalate free.

What kind of wax and wicks do you use?

Most of our candles are poured with an all-natural soy and coconut wax blend. Our beeswax candles combine unbleached beeswax and soy wax, and carry a light honey scent. We never add any dyes or scent enhancers. All waxes are made in the U.S.

Our wicks are 100% cotton or sustainably harvested wood. We never use wicks with metals or other unhealthy substances in them.

How do you choose your candle containers?

We believe in reusable first, and always recycled/recyclable materials. We don’t think any product should be thrown away.

Many of our vessels come from around the world, including fair trade from Egypt, Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. We also purchase from artisans in the U.S., Canada, Turkey and other countries.

Where do your accessories come from?

We source our chocolate, caramels, coffees, cider syrups, totes, facial steams, bath bombs, jewelry, and other accessories directly from the makers or though our fair trade partners, and endeavor to support women artisans whenever possible.

These items are made in the U.S. and in over 12 countries around the world including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Congo, Ecuador, Haiti, Ghana, Honduras, India (and Kashmir), Nicaragua, Pakistan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

How do I clean & reuse my candle container when it's finished?

We love repurposing candle containers after the wax is gone! To clean your glass or ceramic candle, we recommend turning your oven to the lowest setting (150F to 170F), lining a sheet or pie pan with foil, and turning your candle container upside down onto the sheet.

You can place it in the oven and it will quickly melt the remaining wax down into the foil. The candle container may be hot for a bit, so we recommend using a thick towel or oven mitts to move it.

After this, you can use a paper towel to wipe the container and take out the wick by hand or with the help of a spoon. Then you can enjoy your decorative container as a flower pot, a holder for jewelry and cosmetics, or any other creative use!


Why Candles?

We love this question! Turns out that candles are a great way to create economic opportunities. They are a handcrafted, consumable product made with local materials for a global market, and candle-making is a highly scalable enterprise.

An artisan can launch her business in the safety of her home (essential in places of social unrest) yet grow it well beyond - not be stuck there. She can transition from living in poverty to thriving in a matter of months with sufficient access to markets. How candles came to be the ideal product is shared on our Full Story page.

We combine our candles with unique vessels and accessories to broaden our impact and celebrate artisans around the world.

What do you mean by 'Shared Prosperity'?

Shared prosperity is our way of talking about building a brighter future for all. Inequity lies at the heart of many of the world's problems, and equal opportunity is a key part of the solution.

When we focus too much on our own needs, others in the world tend to lose. By giving equal priority to the common good, we reduce conflict and help create a brighter future for everyone.