Individual with autism is achieving his goal to make candles for the autism community and beyond while employing others with autism.
For some time, Nathan Young of Northern California has been making scented soybean candles in an effort to foster autism awareness and opportunity and to make extraordinary candles. “I created it as an experiment in a local area to see if people would accept the idea, and the community, along with local media, did”, says Nathan. After the successful ‘experiment’, as he affectionately calls it, he wanted to try the project on the national stage and so he contacted organizations like Autism Speaks, which then shared it on their social media page and in their autism employment toolkit as an ideal example of an autism owned business.
Going national has been the hardest part of the project’s journey, according to Nathan. He says, “social media was new to me, I hadn’t even signed up for a Facebook account before attempting this and I wasn’t even interested in all that.” Now, just over two years in, the Autism Candles brand has nearly forty thousand fans across sites like Facebook and Twitter. “The goal is not just to become the Autism community’s very own candle makers, but to become a national handmade brand which is recognized for high quality and high performance aromas,” he says, “These candles have a personal touch, they are all hand poured, formulas are hand mixed, and all of them are hand labeled. It’s like a personal candle making service where our customs can trust we personally make their candles for them and not some machine overseas.”
Recently the Autism Candles project successfully shifted sales and logistics to Amazon, enabling candle sales to a wider audience than ever before. According to Nathan this was a cost saving measure, “Amazon can ship to customers cheaper than small businesses, and to store products, the cost per square foot is dramatically less expensive than renting a warehouse.” He continues, “I want to spend our time focusing on keeping the aromas perfect, autism advocacy and the product quality on the individual level, rather than organizing what was becoming an increasingly expensive and complex inventory and shipping system. It took the fun out of simply making the best candles possible and the advocacy.”
Serving the Autism community’s scented candle needs and those who support us is not Nathan’s sole focus. He also advocates for changes in the Regional Center system of California so the service and support meet higher standards while advocating federally for new kinds of inclusive social services. He works towards ensuring the right to the best medical care, community inclusion and the opportunities necessary for everyone to lead fulfilling lives. Some of the money from the not-for-profit candle sales goes towards these advocacy efforts, including national press releases and social media promotion. According to Nathan “[the project] allows me the platform to advocate and be creative, it’s just something I started to make a difference.”
For more information, visit the website at AutismCandles.com
Nathan Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org