23 Luxury candles with purpose. Giving light, love and access to clean drinking water to someone in need with Janey Snelgrove and Shannon Fisher from Pillars of Light

Mar 8, 2022 | Environmental Health, Episodes, Impact Business, Social Enterprise

My Kindness Calendar's Maran Stern-Kubista

Janey Snelgrove and Shannon Fisher from Pillars of Light came together in the darkest part of the pandemic, with the goal to spread love and light throughout the world. In this episode, we learn how the two explored the one-for-one model and other ways to give back, before settling on a partnership with GivePower. We discover why they chose luxury candles and why they went from pouring their own to partnering with a manufacturer in Montreal. We bring to light the unique challenges of launching a product in COVID times, learn what it means to be purpose- first. Hear what they learned about candle safety and funding for female-founded companies, and why after committing to bringing clean drinking water to 1 Million People, they feel so hopeful for the future. 

If you want to learn more about Janey, Shannon and how they’re Giving love through light—with a 1-for-1 approach visit www.pillarsoflight.co. Looking for that perfect gift? Their giveback model means that your purchase gives access to 5 years of clean drinking water to someone in need around the world. You can follow along with Janey and Shannon on their mission to spread light on Instagram @pillars_of_light.co

Links from this episode

About the Host


I'm Jennifer Myers Chua. The Host and Producer of the Cost Of Goods Sold podcast. I'm an entrepreneur, a creative, a cookbook fanatic, mother.  I have always been interested in hearing people's stories and I've been determined to change the world for as long as I can remember.

You'll find me at home in Toronto deconstructing recipes, listening to podcasts, enjoying time with friends or wandering alone through a big city.  I'm excited to have you here. Let's do better, together.


Episode Transcript



[00:02:28] Jennifer Chua: It’s 2021 in the middle of Canadian winter and in the middle of the pandemic when friends, family, and community members were isolated and really struggling. Two friends decided to come together to spread a little light and the two who live more than two hours apart, connected online and over the phone to chat about creating a business. With the idea to create a product rooted in people and purpose that would bring a sense of hope to those around them. But they also wanted to focus on social impact and giving back. Spreading light all over the world as a symbol of life-giving hope.

Janey Snelgrove and Shannon Fisher met in the health and wellness space. And as former co-workers, they had always dreamed of finding a way to collaborate together. Sharing similar values, both wanted to create meaningful impact in some way. And leaning on Janey’s experience nursing in Africa, and their shared desire to support women and families, Pillars of Light was born.

And the truth is that even now more than 3.5 billion people around the world live without access to reliable electricity. Every 90 seconds, a child dies of waterborne illness and disease. And organizations like GivePower supply, clean, and safe water to those in developing countries. And it was the perfect choice for the give back model for Pillars of Light.

I asked Janey and Shannon to describe Pillars of Light in one sentence. They call it a luxury candle company with a lasting purpose where every purchase of their candles gives five years of access to clean drinking water to someone in need in a water scarce region around the world

[00:04:07] Janey Snelgrove: I’m Janey Snelgrove and I’m a founder of Pillars of Light co.

We’re both moms, we’re both wives. We both are entrepreneurs. We’ve been in entrepreneurship for over 20 years, each of us. And we’ve always been about helping people. And so when Shannon and I had been, over the years, getting to know each other and working we’ve often said, oh, we should do something right. We should do something outside of this. And it wasn’t until a conversation during the pandemic, when we’re both in lockdown that we thought maybe there’s something we can do because there’s a lot of fear. There’s a lot of uncertainty. There’s just a lot of angst in the world and we were feeling it and, we do a lot of personal development and, we’ve worked through a lot of things, a lot of mindset and we were feeling it and we were like, you know what, if we’re feeling it, I’m sure other people are feeling it. And what can we do to make a difference? Because right now we feel like we can’t do a lot, but what can we do?

[00:05:02] Shannon Fisher: I’m Shannon Fisher, the other half of Pillars of Light.  We had this conversation like a girlfriend conversation, does, we go from one thing to the next, to the next. And we were starting to set some goals and dreams and adjust what our future could look like moving out of this. We felt like we just had an opportunity to, to lean in and to ask some bigger questions. What if we could actually start something that made a significant change in the world? And I ought to be honest, I think it was the first time for me in, in a while. That I felt hope again. I had been quite sick prior, uh, for a couple of years. And it was the first time for me that I was just like, I felt, there was some light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. And so we were excited to jump in and learn more but what we could do with.

[00:05:48] Jennifer Chua: Now it’s immediately evident when you look at your website or your social media, that creating an impact and environmental responsibility and just being a purpose-based business is so important to you. But what led you to see the world this way? Is there an event that stands out in your mind?

[00:06:05] Janey Snelgrove: I grew up on a farm and my parents brought in students to work for a couple months from all over the world. And so we had someone from Sri Lanka from south America. Oh gosh, just different places. And some other Canadians from other provinces would come to, and it started my quest as a child to think, oh, not everyone lives like we do in Ontario. Not everyone eats the same food. Not everyone has the same background, the same experience. And so it really started this quest for me of, oh, what’s it like in other parts of the world. Growing up. I think I was just really also taught that, when we have, we can share, there’s always enough to share. And so, I was fortunate to be able to go to Guyana when I graduated as a nurse and, volunteer for a month. And my husband, also was there and we experienced firsthand, living in another culture and we experience what it was like to live without electricity. And there was times when, like we had electricity, but there was times when the power would go out in the hospital or in the place where we stayed. And it really opened my eyes to how frustrating that is. You’re in the middle of a shower and the lights go out and it’s at night and you’re like, how do I get how to get around?

And you don’t have candles set up and you’re not prepared. And I realized this is a, this is something that like, people make a lot of people around the world, almost a billion people around the world deal with every day. And for me, it was just so eye-opening and so. As I’ve grown in entrepreneurship, one thing that I’ve always thought of is what can we do to help other people, like, it’s great to have products that can help people here in north America.

And when Shannon and I were creating our candles, we thought, first we have to love our customers and really let them know that what we’re putting into their home is luxury. It’s beautiful. They’re going to love to look at it, but then what’s in, it is actually supporting them, with a wellness based essential oils and healthy, a healthy product.

But then we also thought, okay, what can we do beyond that? And when we started to dig in and think, okay, this is an opportunity to do a one for one model. You know what what’s happening around the world with electricity. And when we discovered there is so many people living every night in darkness, we knew there was something we can do. And so we evolved from thinking about, okay, if we were to, how to candle company, what could we give as part of our one for one, the story evolved into water.

[00:08:35] Shannon Fisher: We realized really quick that the world needed more love and light in the world. Janey had a contact with friends that lived in Malawi and, it was that email back that I think that for me, just really affirmed that we had an opportunity. We had an in a, in a responsibility. I’ve never had a chance to travel to a third world country in the sense that same way as Janey has, but I I’ve often wanted to really impact those that are, extremely less fortunate. And, one of the things that we realized is that we necessarily didn’t also want to take our first world view of what we think people need. We really wanted to hear and learn what is actually required. Like we could go in with our own moody system, but what is actually needed. And we started just asking some questions.

And when we got this response back from this beautiful gentleman that lived in Malawi, there was just such a hook, right. There was like, okay, I just felt so morally obligated. So, from one conversation leads to the next we knew that, we could bring a product to market and, we went everywhere. We were like, okay, do we bring candles into people’s homes? And that could provide light, this one for one model. And then we, of course we quickly realized that’s probably not the safest measure to bring a candle into someone’s hut because we don’t want to ever cause a fire. So we were like, okay, let’s look at solar based products and, just getting off the ground and being startup. We just started to say, okay, what can we do next? What’s that next step? A friend that we had met actually started to help us develop our brand. And he just really believed in what we were doing, he introduced us to a company called gift power, the gift power foundation, I should say. And when we met gift power, we were like, oh my goodness, like they’re doing everything that we believe in and they’re on the ground. And every single dollar, like it was literally this moment, we were like, okay, they are, they’re doing it right. The money goes right to the ground. They already had a partnership covering all of their administrative costs. And, for them, they realize the same thing that we did that this, electrical poverty was so significant that they started lighting up schools. They started bringing light in through solar based energy, but then what they found next was even more, a significant problem was the lack of access to clean drinking water. Every two minutes a child dies of waterborne disease, as mothers, we were like, it’s a no brainer. Okay, how do we partner? And what do we do next?

[00:11:05] Jennifer Chua: People that are such passionate change makers, like the two of you, I’m sure that this whole idea of using something to create change didn’t just start when you were adults, even. I’m wondering if either one of you have moments in your childhood that you’re remembering that you look back on now and say, yo yes I was always primed to be a change.

[00:11:24] Shannon Fisher: I always wanted to make a really big, big impact in the world. I didn’t necessarily really know how that was going to be. I’m always like laugh and say in a small town girl living in a lonely world, but it was, I always just felt that I was called to do big work. I think we can do community-based work, which is fantastic locally. But there’s just been this calling in my heart forever, as long as I can remember to do something more significant. It just felt right when, sharing this opportunity with friends, some of my closest friends were like, this makes complete sense. This is exactly what you’ve always talked about. This is what you’ve always dreamt about and just really excited that you’re going for it.

[00:12:05] Janey Snelgrove: I think for me, it was more of the perspective of, from that young age, seeing that there are people around this world that have less than I do. And just realizing that we all have a place and as a woman, Knowing that there’s more than one way to make change and change can sometimes be just being the kind person on the school bus to the stranger, to the new kid.

Right. And I was often that kid that would like, welcome the new kid because I didn’t want them to feel like they were different than us. And so, I think as, as women, Shannon and I, as we’ve gotten to know each other, I think both of us, just from the bottom of our heart, we, we believe in people.

We just believe that each and every one of us have something inside of us and that we’re here for a purpose and a reason. And when I started to realize that, women just disproportionately are affected by lack of water, I thought, gosh, we’ve had this conversation. What would it be like to be a mom. Having to pull water every day for our kids. Like the amount of time that would require how that would limit your ability to just be with your kids, to make food, to teach even, to get a job.

Each and every one of us have an ability to do something. And I don’t think it has to be anything huge or spectacular. It’s just something. And so when Shannon and I set out for our Pillars of Light, obviously we wanted to create something amazing for people who received the candle. But we also wanted to inspire people to know that when you buy this, you are doing something, you are helping someone in this farther place. Probably another mom, just like you or another student received water that they currently aren’t receiving. And so. to create something where people could join us in community because really community is what drives any kind of change. It’s not one person, it’s a community.

And so Pillars of Light is really an opportunity for people to come together and why, whether they purchase the candle for themselves, or they purchase it for somebody else that might be going through a challenging time. We can know that together, we really are making a difference. And that’s why, one of the right away, we were like, together, we are killers of light because it’s not just Shannon and I it’s going to take a whole village.

[00:14:26] Jennifer Chua: What was that conversation like when you decided that you want to work together? You’ve decided that maybe you have an idea for how you can create impact. How did that conversation go between the two of you?

[00:14:35] Shannon Fisher: Janey and just chatted for years and I often seek her as a confidant and just a really great friend. And I think because of the personal development work we’ve done throughout the years, we were really able to quickly realize that we both had different strengths in different buckets. There was immediate trust there right away, uh, that, we’ve gone through hard times, uh, together we’ve had to do hard work together.

We’ve had to, really rally at times and, in any partnership it’s, it’s not always, roses and there’s going to be hard conversations. We’re both faith-based women. And we just said, Hey, if it’s going to be it’s up to it’s up to him. And let’s just kind of continue to lean in. It’s been the most beautiful work that I’ve done in my career up to this point. So I think one conversation just has led to the next, to be honest.

[00:15:28] Janey Snelgrove: Yeah, we’re dreamers. Right. But we’re also doers. And so, we, when in our initial conversations it was like, okay, well, if we’re going to do this because a, we have other businesses, we have fizzy families, this better be something good. Like we’re not just in it just to touch the waters, we’re in it to like dive in and see that ripple. And so we knew that our partnership was going to be really important. I sometimes we have these doubts that we’re like, what are we doing? How is this going to work? Like, who are we? We’ve never been in the candle industry before. We’ve never been in manufacturing. These are all big jumps. They’re not just little baby steps. It’s like a giant leap. But we’ve always come back to, we’re in this together, we’re problem solvers.

And most importantly, it’s going to take a team. And so we’ve been able to put amazing people around us to help us to see our mission. And we keep grounded in, what, if we hit our goal of impacting a million people, fantastic. But if we only help one person have water for five years, freaking fantastic.

When we have those days of like, what are we doing? We boil it down to, okay, what’s the big picture. And the big picture is helping people. And so, one day at a time, that’s all we can do one day at a time.

[00:16:40] Jennifer Chua: And when you began to look into the one for one model, what other avenues for giving back were you exploring?

[00:16:46] Shannon Fisher: When we first started we were just looking at some different models and, Janey had got a great pair of Bomba socks for Christmas. And so she was explaining this to me and, I’ve always been very intrigued in the one for one model and just even socially responsible businesses. and so again, like we, when we decided to do this, it was like, okay, we’re just not going to be a typical candle company. So we wanted to redefine this industry. We also wanted to redefine, women partnership in business. And so we had a couple of key goals. And so we looked at the one for one, you need to be honest.

At first we were like, let’s, let’s just see what’s available. And we thought, well, maybe we would create that one for one. And we would be able to do both sides. And when we were just really focused initially on our own product innovation, like what were we going to actually, what we’re going to give to our customers in order to create the one for one when we met with gift powder, we looked at a few other organizations.

But that was actually first conversation we actually had with the company. And it just felt right. It just checked all the boxes. So you didn’t really have to go into any further discovery. At this point, of course, knowing that there we’ll probably have other partnerships along the way, uh, this just kind of met everything that we were looking for at the moment.

[00:17:54] Janey Snelgrove: We wanted it simple. Because we know that people’s attention is so short and there’s so many different, great products out there, but we wanted it to be able to say, Hey, if you take the time to buy this one candle for yourself for someone else, here’s what it equals. Looking at, Bombus looking at, Tom’s looking at some of the other companies out there that have the one for one, we really tried to study. What, why have they done well? And it’s because it’s simple. You by one candle, you give five years of drinking water, 1,825 days of clean drinking water with this one luxury candle.

So for us, we thought let’s follow what has worked with some other companies and see if we can just build on upon it and grow from there. And like Shannon said, give power’s our first partnership, but as we grow, we’re open to looking at other ways that we can have impact, but we know the power of solar energy and we know the power of water.

When we were chatting about what was going on in the world and distress, people were under in the fear, the uncertainty, the loneliness the loss, like so many people have lost jobs. They’ve lost family members. They’ve lost opportunities to have a wedding and to celebrate they’ve lost holidays for the last two years. There’s been so much change and uncertainty that we really started look at okay. Fear is to darkness what love is to light. And so when we decided to start this candle company, we thought there’s so many parallels that if people could really dig in, that these candles are actually reminders, that light is greater than the darkness that love casts out all fear. The impact that we wanted to have obviously was globally with our gift back. But locally, when someone purchased their candle, we want them to just see the power and the reminder that sometimes we all need a reminder of the love and the light inside of us, that we can make a difference. We want it to have that global impact, but first we want it to have that local impact with our customer who was able to really just get this beautiful candle, this beautiful curated scent and be reminded of the power of love and the power of light that they have within them.

[00:20:12] Jennifer Chua: When we spoke earlier, we spoke about mental health being something that is important to both of you as well. And I was wondering how Pillars of Light either affects mental health now, or if you have any plans going forward to do impact in that area. I was just wondering about the whole mental health piece of this brand?

[00:20:33] Shannon Fisher: Great question, Jennifer, Janey and I were actually chatting and this has come up quite a few times for us is. I think prior to the pandemic, people were struggling. We live really busy lives. People sometimes haven’t been managing their life as much as they, I think they would like to and then the pandemic hit. And what we do know is, the next kind of pandemic, so to speak is mental health. And I do a lot of work in this area. And I’ve seen a lot of people continue to struggle. And it’s one of those things do we see ourselves taking a, uh, an opportunity here potentially. But what we do know is we’ve had some just extraordinary feedback that people are lighting this candle, and it’s helping them. It’s helping them with their mental clarity. It’s helping them recognize that even when I in, maybe, uh, having a rough day or a dark day, I can look at that candle and it’s reminding me of that inner light.

And that was really important to Jamie and I, because we can often get caught up in the weeds and we can often get caught up in our own darkness and sometimes just letting that candle and just watching it. Is, is that opportunity to be reminded that the light that’s within us and the other part is I don’t have to extinguish my light in order to light up Janey. Like I get to keep my light on while I also could like her candle. And that was another big part of our movement is to remind people that there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. And in the simplest form, if we can make life really complicated, as we all know, but if we lean into love and we lean into light there’s going to be brighter days ahead. And we really wanted to help people just to be reminded of that and that there’s people there in the world that to care for them. And again, through community that things, things can be okay.

[00:22:32] Jennifer Chua: And when you began to actually look at making candles and manufacturing candles, did you find anything surprising?

[00:22:40] Janey Snelgrove: It’s interesting when we were first talking about it was right in the middle of the pandemic, the one of the lockdowns, and we were like, oh, let’s create a new hobby candles. And we soon realized that candle making is an art and a science. And we spent hours like hours. Our kids were involved. Our husbands were involved. Our husbands were so happy when we decided that we are not makers. Our gift is not making. Our gift is sharing stories and, and opening and helping businesses grow. Oh boy, our friends, they sniffed some smelly candles and we had a lot of funny laughs, hats off to the makers out there who have really understood the science and the art of it. And, and one thing that was important to us was using quality ingredients and it’s expensive. Using quality ingredients. But you can see the difference in the quality of the ingredients, how it affects the burn, the smell, like just the whole thing.

So we found a Canadian manufacturing partner that has been building candles for over 25 years. They are very, value-based very, very socially responsible. And as soon as we met them, went to their facility, got to meet the owner of the family. We knew here was another partner that was in alignment with us and we could trust them. We knew what they were creating and we’re really excited that they have come on board with us because we’ve been able to create two beautiful scents and more to come.

[00:24:18] Shannon Fisher: I just giggle from the first part. Then we started this and I still remember Janey and I sitting down at the table going okay, like, this is all well and good, but how are we, going back to the vision. It’s going to take so much longer for us to create this impact if we’re trying to pour candles and do all these other pieces. And so we knew that if we wanted to really make the impact, like Janey mentioned is that we had to find the right partner. To partner with people who have experience and so much experience, just made, made that transition a no brainer for us.

[00:24:52] Jennifer Chua: Have you discovered any costs associated with creating something like a candle that you might just pick up in any store, like in terms of environmental impact or impact on your health? Is there anything about candles that we need to be mindful of?

[00:25:04] Shannon Fisher: We went through like a really steep learning curve. And over the last couple of years, of course heard soy candles, soy-based candles were definitely the better way to go. I’ve been a candle connoisseur for many years. It’s probably my most favorite gift to give is to give a candle. And when we started to do some research into the wax. I was kind of shocked because yes, you can see a candle in our community for a couple of bucks to we found some candles that were priced, small atriums candle price at $125.

And we’re like, whoa, what is the difference here? And what we started to see things like petroleum based products even some of the blends, you don’t necessarily know if that’s a petroleum blend or not. And unfortunately petroleum-based candles are actually quite toxic to our health. So that was the one thing was making sure we found wax that was very safe for our customers. Both being in wellness is really, really important. The second thing was then finding a scent and Janey and I we scratched our heads on this one for, I felt like weeks, trying to figure it out and really understand what is that scent that people love.

And then what is the scent that also gives people headaches? I’ve got great girlfriends that were like, oh, I struggled buying candles because they burned them for a few minutes and I ended up with a wicked headache and I blow it out. And what we started to see again is that there can be often more phthalate in some of those products. They’re more synthetic. And what we realize is, again, is finding natural based aromas that were phthalate free, essential oil base. Initially we’re like we only want essential oils. But we quickly realized that that is all well and good, but not always easy in a candle because the fact that they need some other stabilizers, but we can use other and natural aromas and then the products that were phthalate free.

That was the second pillar. And then the third pillar, if you can believe it or not, the little wick that goes in those candles, often sometimes have lead in the, can you believe it lead in wicks. And so again, things we don’t want burning things I definitely do not want around my kids or, we have a, literally a funny farm Jeanie has a beautiful dog as well. And so we wanted to make sure, again, really high quality 100% soy base. That was what we were learning was probably going to be the best for our burn time, making sure that scent was sophisticated and strictly healthy and that we had lead free wicks. We feel confident, making sure people buy our product that they’re, we’re not putting their health in jeopardy.

[00:27:43] Jennifer Chua: As someone in the consumer product space. And obviously through this podcast, in this project and just meeting with impact business owners, I’ve learned a lot about lead and phthalates and how they are in an astonishing amount of products that we have in levels that are really not safe. I’m just wondering if you’ve noticed in this period of time, if consumers are valuing that information yet, or if it’s resonated with. What do you think is going on in terms of consumer product behavior?

[00:28:17] Janey Snelgrove: I think it’s starting. I think it’s just starting. So it was interesting in our initial research and just talking to different friends and people, we would talk about is soy base important to you? And they’re like, no. And I’m like, oh, tell me more about that. And , they didn’t even know. They didn’t know there was a difference. They didn’t know what a candle was made of and why soy was better. So I think that it’s growing, the movement is growing for having natural eco-friendly products. But I still think we’ve got a way to go. So that’s partly why, our job is also to educate.

[00:28:54] Jennifer Chua: You’ve touched on that you were going to your friends and you were asking them questions. You were getting your husbands involved. You were really talking to other people in the wellness community, but when was the moment that you really realized that this could work or that people would be interested in the idea of, of your business?

[00:29:09] Janey Snelgrove: We did a lot of research and we were like, okay, what will people buy candles? Like is candles even a thing. And when we started to look at the research 75% of women over 25 is really the target because they’re the ones that buy candles. And then we looked at the buying behaviors of that. And I can’t remember the stat off the top of my head, but a high percentage of people are now looking to see, is this company socially responsible what are their values? And they will choose to purchase from a company that has values and alignment. Just alone on the research, we knew that, okay, people’s buying behaviors are supporting this type of business

[00:29:49] Shannon Fisher: People even over the last little bit are looking for companies that what Janey mentioned, we kind of said that we were purpose and then people and then profit. So it wasn’t going to be the other way around. We had to have our purpose had, have our big, why we were doing this. We know it’s going to take incredible people both impacting people and of course, people to purchase. And, and then after that, if we kept those two things, as our priority profits will happen. And I would say, there’s been moments when we were like, is this going to work? And we went into a pre-launch and we launched our presale because we dealing with some supply chain things and all the stuff in the pandemic, they were like, okay, you never want a week crazy for starting a business in the middle of a pandemic where, there’s going to be, get things shipped.

And then we’re like, okay, let’s go into presale. And we ran an event and then we had people on there that registered. It will always be a moment kind of marked in my memory of when people started to order. And I was like, okay, we’ve got proof of concept. People want this. And so now it’s just up to us to increase that discoverability and just let people know that we’re here.

[00:31:00] Jennifer Chua: I wonder how that impacted some of the decisions that you’ve made, or if you have any learnings from that really unique experience of starting a business in the last two years?

[00:31:10] Janey Snelgrove: I think entrepreneurs sometimes have a dream and then they figure it out after. Right. And we just know as entrepreneurs, problem solving is right up there on your to-do list. Like curve balls come at, you left right and center. So I think part of it was we went into this with an attitude. Okay, this is a new gig for us. This is something new and we know we’re going to need to grow, and we know we’re going to need to have advisors. And we also are going to probably expect some challenges that being said, building in a pandemic was way more challenging than I even anticipated, partly because we’ve also never been in the manufacturing industry ourselves in terms of understanding supply chain delivery, demand costs.

And so firsthand, we got to see how, quoted on one thing and then a couple of weeks later. Oh no, no, no. We got, we’ve got to go up because of X, Y, and Z factor. And so, That was one thing. And then, delays, we had we’ve created a custom luxury box and it’s still not in our hands.

And we thought it was going to be ready for our launch in November. And so we had to pivot to find another box to just, do something as quickly as possible while still holding to our brand commitment of luxury. And so we had some, late night calls some times of like, oh my goodness, what are we going to do?

Are we going to make it, and so thankfully some advisers around us to just, calm us down a little bit, take us off the ledge and to remember that, okay, there’s always a solution. We just have to dig in to try and find it. So I have much more appreciation for product based company.

And for the industry as a whole, just really trying to deliver on their promises. And when you create, when you communicate to your customer, you want to stand behind that, but sometimes things out of your control come into play, and then you have to go back and say, actually, now we have to try to do this.

And so just really hoping to ask for grace, from people and also to extend grace to people we’re working with, who have had their timelines changed. And so, it has been a huge, it has been a huge learning for us. That’s for sure. But it’s been good. It’s been.

[00:33:41] Shannon Fisher: We didn’t really know anything different. We haven’t brought another product like this to market before. And so yes, we, I think have been faced with all our other challenges first year speaking to other advisors and, people we know in business that just kind of, they’re like good on you, girls for, doing this because you probably could have been maybe easier times for sure.

But at the same point, what we both know is is that we can do hard things and, as long as you’re willing to kind of take a deep breath and, calm your mind for a moment, look at some other solutions around us. We’re like, okay, we can still hold true to what we wanted. who we are. And we can still provide this great quality product. And so it has been such a, an exercise, like true exercise of, leaning in having great faith and honestly trusting the process. Like there’s we can talk about that, but when you’re actually living it, it’s totally different.

[00:34:37] Jennifer Chua: Are there any other unique challenges to operating a purpose first business that we don’t usually think about? Are people going into business or not thinking about.

[00:34:47] Janey Snelgrove: I think so. And we’re learning as we go through, right? This is all new for us, when you price your product, you have to read like every other entrepreneur understands their revenue and their profit. But for us, it’s like, okay, we have made a commitment with the amount that we are going to give, it’s also the purpose behind why we’re doing what we’re doing. And so we want to make sure that we can follow through and really have an impact. And so there is a balance of figuring out, financially. Making sure that your company is profitable so that you can have as much impact as you want to have.

We have to find a way to be profitable so that we can give. And that has been, I think, a learning curve as well, but also it’s our commitment. Like, that’s why we’re doing this. It’s not something that every entrepreneur has to deal with because we’re making our commitment upfront and other companies will often say, oh, sure, I’ll give out of my.

Right. And once they know they profits, then they give, and we’re like, oh, we’re committing to this. Whether we sell a candle or not, if we just sell one candle, this is what we’re doing. But there’s obviously costs. And so, I think that is the difference is that we’re making our commitment upfront where a lot of other companies make their commitment after they’ve sold. And that definitely makes it a little more challenging, but it also shows where our commitment is.

Shannon and I are very much believers in the ability of women when they put their minds to something. But I think one of the challenges that we have come firsthand to is financing for women startup businesses. And how is that easy? Thankfully we’ve been able to, start this up with our own equity. And when I went in, I had this assumption, oh yeah. The bank’s going to give us some money. I ask it to be easy. Oh yeah, we’ll get it. And wow. They don’t want to help you until you have two years of proof that it’s working. I guess what I’m trying to say is I want to encourage the women who are thinking of starting something that there’s always a way, but to expect there are challenges as a woman receiving financing.

[00:37:07] Shannon Fisher: There was this moment along our road where we were like, okay, like we’ve been in business. We have other businesses. We are established women in business. This should be easy. Right. And when we went down that road and started knocking on doors, it was a wake-up call for us to be like, whoa, whoa, what? No? Like what do you mean? And we had some beautiful feedback from people like, wow, this is like the most extensive business plan we’ve seen. And we’re like, oh, okay. Like giving us a pat on the back. And so we had done our due diligence. We had done the work and I think there’s a lot of times women go into business, we are responsible, we do our work. We dig in, we find out, especially if this is not something that you want to just kick the can at. Right. We wanted to go big on this project and it was frustrating. I remember having that moment going, okay, like, how is this going to happen? And we just, we just figured it out. And I think to that point is you just have to continue to lean in, start asking bigger questions. And then just allowing one door to open to the next and, thank heavens we’ve been able to strap this. I think here in Canada, I had a belief that this would be easy for women, but we started looking through different grants, janey and I are both over 40. Even that annoyed me, I was like, why is it only for women under 40 can get money? We’ve just saw lots of holes that are still are still within the business sector when it comes to funding that Just need to be closed. And I think to Janey’s point that if we can start to have more of these conversations, there are incredible people in the world that I think if they know how they can also solve a problem, we can really help more businesses come into marketplace of people who want to do really, really big and great. They just need some great people around them to help them see that vision to, to the end. When we were starting through the middle of the pandemic, so many people have had to cut back, and not having the same funding, not having the same opportunity to network . And so now, just even reflecting upon that, we put ourselves in a position where we just haven’t been able to meet up with as many people as we’d like to. But there’s always great opportunities as we continue to move forward.

[00:39:19] Jennifer Chua: And what about the children that you are impacting through your work and giving clean water to in Africa? How about them? Are you hopeful for their future?

[00:39:31] Shannon Fisher: Oh, my goodness. Beyond, beyond hopeful. Janey and I had these moments where we just sit and think about them and we can’t wait for the day that we can actually get over there and do a project. But we just know, even as mothers, like, if you can give your child something with like clean water, it’s such a necessity, just what that gives to someone to, to know that that child could have a brighter life. It just, it just means a lot, like it’s it’s work that I don’t know. I’m gonna get too emotional.

[00:40:11] Janey Snelgrove: I think for me too, it is. And we talked about this as being moms. I don’t even have any idea what it’s like being a mom where you have to go get water and thinking, oh gosh, what if it’s dirty? Right. Or seeing your child becomes sick. And so I think Shannon and I think about the comfort a mother would have knowing that, okay, this child has access to clean water for five years.

Right? Like, think about that, what that would do to take that level of stress off of you. In those hard days that we have, we have to remember, we’re not selling candles. We are helping people. And that’s what we have to keep our eye on. And so, I mean, we, it’s so funny as moms and as women, we have some good doozy cries it’s because we realize that what we have the opportunity to do can really make a difference.

And as an entrepreneur, when this becomes your baby You just want to make sure it’s a baby that you’re going to spend a lot of time on it is going to have an impact in a way that nothing else can. It’s just remembering. It’s just like, we’re asking our customers to remember the power of love and light within them. We also have to be reminded of, of, the power that, that we can have to help change someone’s life that we may never even get to meet. We probably will never get to meet, but just knowing that there is an opportunity to do something at the end of the day, when you’ve worked all day, it feels really good.

[00:41:47] Jennifer Chua: If you want to learn more about Janey, Shannon, and how they’re giving love through light with a one for one approach, visit Pillars of Light.co. Looking for that perfect gift. Their give back model means that your purchase gives access to five years of clean drinking water to someone in need around the world. You can follow along with Janey and Shannon on their mission to spread light on instagram@pillars_of_light.co.

NEW Episodes

Every Second Tuesday


Everywhere you get your podcasts.

You can find and follow Cost of Goods Sold on all of the major networks.