I am a survivor of domestic violence. I would love to say that the pain and heartbreak I experienced for over ten years left me when I left my toxic relationship. But the truth is: the pain remains. I have learned healthy and effective ways to manage these memories, but I have realized as time goes on that I simply cannot rely upon my fight and my efforts made in therapy and through health regimens to heal and experience hope. I need something more. And while I am in a true loving relationship with a wonderful man and I am a mother to a beautiful and bright young boy - all of which brings me such joy and peace - I feel that my life as a survivor is at its most meaningful when I am using my pain for a greater and positive purpose: in helping others. When I am helping someone to understand the truth of her own situation, or when I make a positive connection at a market or pop up shop or even at random on the street, I feel deeply connected to my own purpose, and to my path for healing.
I knew when I started my business in 2016 that my work had to be more than just an enjoyable activity for me, it had to have purpose. I decided to donate ten percent of my sales to domestic violence awareness as part of my Shine the Light Campaign. I’ve been fortunate to donate considerably to and become an active member in local and national organizations and foundations dedicated to giving victims and survivors a voice:
In February of 2018 I established Shine the Light Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on the education and outreach for domestic violence. My Shine the Light Campaign now helps to support my foundation and its programming.
They say if you want something, go get it.
I started Moderncity + Main in March of 2016 out of my 1000-square-foot apartment in Newark, Delaware. I have spent more late nights in my studio - aka my dining room - than I can count making candles and prepping orders to ship out and to deliver. The coat closets adjacent to my living room have been taken over by market displays, tables, and spillover studio supplies. Weekday mornings I am often printing shipping labels whilst chasing my son and my dog about the living room and nearly twisting my ankle on yet another monster truck or dog toy - all before packing up and taking my darling boy to school so that I can attend my day job as an advisor and instructor at the University of Delaware. My life is crazy. The thing is, though: I wouldn’t change a thing.
In nearly three full years of operation I have made almost 10,000 candles. Each and every one was hand-poured by me - probably at night after my loves were sound asleep - in small batches. A small batch is four of my 9oz glass jar candles, which takes about 20 minutes start to finish (melt to mix to pour to cure). That means that in the three years of making candles for my business I have spent just about 830 hours in my studio (read: my dining room).
If there’s one thing I learned in my life, prior to starting a business and most certainly whilst running one, it’s to never give up. Work like hell and hard for what you want and throughout the process always remain grateful for the opportunity to learn. A larger home and my own studio space - and storefront! - is on the very near horizon, but for now I make it work in a tiny studio, and home, filled with love.
Beyond running a successful business and a foundation, I’m looking to connect with people. Ever since I was a little girl I loved storytelling. As an adult, I can appreciate the strength of narrative and how it can both encourage and inspire. Narrative can bring people together, transport you to familiar and faraway places, and often: narrative can heal.
Your sense of smell is the strongest attached to memory. A certain aroma can do wonders to connect us with and resurface old memories. And while it’s important to live in the present, there’s something truly meaningful in remembering moments from our own history. Sharing these stories with each other is such a powerful and joyful experience in humility, kindness, and understanding. For survivors of trauma, like myself, sharing your story is critical to the success of the healing process.
Each of my scents are inspired by people, places, and experiences from my life. The unique names reflect moments of my story, revealed and experienced with each burn. So far, I’ve shared parts about my childhood; my time as a freshly single woman trying to rebuild herself whilst living in a studio apartment in Washington, DC; my partner and his unconditional love and unwavering support; my time in France when I fell in love with the discovery of the new and first realized the importance of listening to and trusting myself; and a bit about my experience of being raised in a southern family with southern values. I also feature scents that represent ideas and beliefs that are meaningful to me.