Ep. 43 When Passion Meets Purpose and Impact with Amber Runyon of Eleventh Candle Co. and Legacy
Happy #SeekTheJoy Tuesday!
On the podcast this week is Amber Runyon, the founder and CEO of Eleventh Candle Co. and Legacy. Collectively, these two organizations have come together as a social enterprise working globally to redeem, restore, empower and equip those vulnerable to human trafficking, abuse, exploitation and addiction.
When you purchase a product from Eleventh Candle Co., a once trafficked woman in Columbus, Ohio is employed while a village in Ethiopia is supported and orphaned children there are welcomed into homes because of those who purchase their products.
On today's episode we chat all about the incredible life changing experience that led Amber to starting Legacy and Eleventh Candle Co., the impact she and her team are having, and how she's been able to bring light into darkness to bring about sustainable change. We also chatted about why it's so important to allow ourselves to dream (and dream big), shifting our self-talk and changing the narrative within ourselves, letting go of fear and doubt, why it's so important to celebrate failure, Amber's affirmation and gratitude practice, joy as a state of being, and so much more!
Legacy, the non-profit arm of Eleventh Candle Co., was founded out of the desire to bring hope to women both in the United States and in Ethiopia who have been vulnerable to human trafficking, abuse, exploitation and addiction. Amber founded Eleventh Candle Co. in 2015 as a for-profit spin-off of her nonprofit, Legacy.
Amber, a former hospice nurse, never set out to be an entrepreneur. She had multiple opportunities to participate in medical mission trips that led her to Honduras, Haiti, Kenya and Ethiopia. It was after she visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the first time that her life was forever changed.
While in Ethiopia, Amber continued to be surrounded by deplorable poverty—a poverty that’s hard to understand. War zones, famine, no water, disease and absolute filth. It was then that Amber met an orphaned street girl named Mulu. The moment she walked up to Amber and slipped her little hand in hers, and she looked into Mulu's big brown eyes, Amber's life was forever changed.
After visiting Ethiopia, and bearing witness to young girls being trafficked, bought and sold like a commodity, Amber knew she couldn't sit on the sideline and not do something. She realized that the woman who was selling her body for a loaf of bread in Ethiopia, was the same woman in Columbus who was selling her body to feed her children. Two women - a world apart. Same problem, same heart.
Since her time in Ethiopia, Amber, through Legacy, has helped build a school, create a soccer field for children, support a local co-op, and employ Ethiopian artisans. More recently, Legacy has been alongside the Ethiopian Almaz Ashene Children and Family Support Center Association, whose focus is on early childhood education, working with street children and empowering women in their own communities.
Amber and her team work side by side with women in their community every single day. They aren't working for the people who are already in their program, instead they're working for the woman that's still on the street and the kid that's still hungry. Eleventh Candle Co. sells a variety of scented candles manufactured by local victims of human trafficking. With annual sales nearing half a million dollars, she uses her revenues to provide employment, support, and training to women recovering from trafficking.
Amber and I had a really wonderful conversation about shifting our self-talk, and changing how we view our successes and failures. For Amber, it's about becoming conscious of how we speak to ourselves. If we were to spend a day writing down every negative thought that we have about ourselves, it will absolutely rock us to our core. The key is to become aware of that negativity to catch ourselves quicker. From there, you can replace those thoughts with the truth. You can truly change that narrative in your head the moment that you catch it. As Amber shares during this week's episode, it's okay to believe good things about yourself! We don't need to get trapped in the negativity or keep ourselves from being who we really are.
I love what Amber shared during this week's episode about what self-care really is. Sure, it can also be bubble baths and manicures, but at it's core self-care is so much deeper than that. Self-care is digging in and doing your budge, getting organized, weeding out bad relationships, removing toxicity from your life, and letting go when you need. Self-care is getting into counseling and doing yoga or regular exercise, and getting together with your friends.
Amber also shared her morning and evening routine (which I loved). In the morning, she has a daily affirmation and spends some time writing out three things she's grateful for and three things that make today great. In the evenings, she writes down three things that made today awesome, three things that could have made today better, and a nighttime affirmation. She's not perfect at it and there are days she doesn't get to her daily and/or nightly routine. When that happens, instead of shaming herself and making herself feel bad about it, it's important for her allow herself to start all over again and her remind herself that she's worthy of this routine.
During this week's episode Amber shared a really wonderful moment about celebrating failure. There was a day when an employee forgot to add scent to their scented candles. It was a loss of hundreds of dollars in product for Eleventh Candle Co., but Amber decided that they were going to celebrate that failure. I have to quote Amber here because there is no way I could do what she said justice. "We're going to celebrate that failure because the truth is that yesterday you chose sobriety over addiction, and that is a success. The truth is that you got up out of bed and you came to work and that is a success. Yes, we failed at this and this was not good, but we're going to celebrate this failure because trying is success enough."
Amber's story and what she witnessed in Ethiopia, and the ways in which she's been able to have an impact and create change will stop you dead in your tracks and remind you to believe in the power of kindness, humanity, and that there is never one step too small to make an impact. Today, she's employing women who want to dream again and believe in life's possibilities. She's giving hope to women and girls - wax and wick at a time.
Amber is offering Seek The Joy Podcast listeners 25% off your purchase with the code seek - can't wait for you guys to check these out!!!
To learn more about Amber, Eleventh Candle Co. and Legacy visit their website eleventhcandleco.com
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