By Betsy Lopez-Wagner
Special to The Rock River Times
When Candle Crest owners Judy and Dave Bieck debuted their Rockford Candle “Positivity” in October, they did so to prove positivity could spread faster than unfavorable publicity in the region.
Recently, the couple proved themselves right. The Biecks met with volunteers, staff and Rock River Valley Pantry Executive Director Kim Adams-Bakke at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 12, to help Rockford’s image grow beyond negative labels. Fifty percent of the net profit from each Rockford Candle sold from October to February is being donated to the area pantry — that’s a whopping $1,825 that will reach an estimated 2,100 families.
“Every dollar makes a difference when someone is hungry,” Adams-Bakke said, noting the pantry has incredible buying power, since it buys by the pallet. “It doesn’t matter how big or how small the donation is, it immediately provides food to people that are going hungry.”
The Rock River Valley Pantry serves more than 7,100 people per month, 40 percent of whom are children. Urgently needed foods include vegetables and canned fruits for the client’s food bags. The donation, made possible through the sale of the candles, will allow the pantry to purchase more than 9,521 cans of 15-ounce green beans.
“My goal, since the start, was to do something that’s 100 percent positive for Rockford,” Judy Bieck said. “This is just the start.”
The pineapple, bamboo and sage-scented candle is sold in 12-ounce jars and has been produced by the Rockford-based business since the fall to sell at area retailers for $15. Each quarter of the year, Candle Crest will select another not-for-profit organization to be the recipient of funds aimed to boost quality of life in the region.
Next up to benefit from the Rockford Candle’s sales is Carpenter’s Place, which “provides the tools necessary for rebuilding the lives of homeless adults” in the area.
Selfless acts can help others. That’s why Debbie Aiello and her sister Kat stock the Rockford Candle at Roxy Carmichael, their seven-year-old shop on Alpine Road.
“Everybody loves them,” Aiello said. “It’s something positive to talk about. As soon as they are in, they are gone. If I order two dozen, we’ve already got 18 of them sold, and they sell as fast as they come in. It’s something more; it’s such a good thing to be promoting something that is benefiting everyone.”
The Rockford Candle is good for organizations, but also good for local small businesses, said Skyler Davis. Davis, along with his wife Lauren, own Culture Shock, a clothing, gift and record shop in the Charles Street corridor.
“The Rockford Candle was our most requested local gift during the last season,” he said. “Especially for people who are dedicated to our community and want to give friends and family a piece of home as a gift.”
The Biecks have been dreaming up their own scents for their soy-based candles since before their inception in January 2009. The Rockford Candle was developed by Judy Bieck as a response to Forbes magazine positioning Rockford as No. 3 in its list of “America’s Most Miserable Cities,” in early 2013. Forbes cited declines in the city’s manufacturing base, high property taxes and local unemployment in the ranking. Since the ranking was released, the Biecks have been building the scent and product, solidifying the local business support to mass produce the product to stock local shelves recently.
The Rockford Candle is available for purchase at more than a dozen retail locations, including Culture Shock, O’Fallon’s Flowers, Rockford Art Deli, The Canine Crunchery and online at www.candlecrest.com. For a complete list, visit Candle Crest’s Facebook page and website. Candle Crest produces clean-burning soy candles with long-lasting burn times and rich fragrances. The soy candles are individually hand-poured using soy wax from U.S. soybeans. The products feature lead-free wicks and are a healthier alternative to paraffin to provide a cleaner burn for you, your family and your pets.
From the Feb. 19-25, 2014, issue