Our Blog
Stories about how we create opportunities that empower women through our business, program, and products.

Author: Kate, Director, Labyrinth Made Goods.

Four women working at conference table

Labyrinth Made Goods is an outgrowth of the YWCA McLean County's Labyrinth Outreach Services to Women a program dedicated to reducing recidivism through women's empowerment. Our community came together in so many ways to support the founding of YWCA Labyrinth. Labyrinth Made Goods continues that legacy through our partnership with multiple community organizations to provide our employees and participants with the best support and resources our community has to offer.

Labyrinth Outreach Services for Women began 2012 with two community leaders on a mission to empower women who were ready to rebuild their lives after experiencing incarceration. Mary Campbell and Feli Sebastian saw the need for housing, counseling, mentoring, and employment support for women transitioning back to our community. They knew that without stable housing and employment opportunities, these folks would be much more likely to go back to jail or prison. Mary and Feli were passionate about building an organization that could help women meet their needs and rebuild their lives on a solid foundation for success.

Over the next four years, Mary, Feli, and their tireless group of supporters and clients worked hard to grow the program and its resources. They inspired many in the community to get involved and largely through volunteers and pro bono services renovated two condemned properties in West Bloomington to support Labyrinth’s now thriving transitional housing program.

By 2016, Labyrinth House was ready for its grand opening and Mary and Feli saw an opportunity to make Labyrinth Outreach and the support it offered more integrated with existing community services and more sustainable by partnering with YWCA McLean County.

Woman smiling YWCA is on a mission

YWCA McLean County is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA McLean County took over Labyrinth Outreach Services to Women in 2016, integrating it into YWCA McLeans’s existing programs and network of support. YWCA has continued to expand and grow Labyrinth’s reach. Last year, YWCA Labyrinth Outreach provided support and services to over 90 women in McLean County.

From the beginning, Mary, Feli, and YWCA McLean’s leaders dreamed of creating a structured way for Labyrinth clients to develop and practice professional skills and gain employment experience to enable them to find and secure careers that offer living wages and opportunities for growth. They decided a social enterprise would be the best way to accomplish these goals.

Labyrinth Made Goods is the social enterprise started by YWCA McLean County to make that dream a reality. At Labyrinth Made Goods, we provide professional development, apprenticeships, and permanent employment to women who have experienced incarceration.

Volunteers working in front green house

For women who have experienced incarceration, finding stable housing and gainful employment are two of the biggest factors inhibiting their ability to successfully rebuild their lives and work towards their personal and professional goals. Through the combined support offered by Labyrinth Made Goods, YWCA Labyrinth Outreach, and our network of community partners, we create opportunities that empower women to define their paths towards success. And we are here every step of the way as our participants, apprentices, and colleagues strive to make their dreams a reality.

Author: Kate, Director, Labyrinth Made Goods.

Soy

At Labyrinth Made Goods, we believe in transparency with our customers and supporters. Our candles are made with 100% soy wax. We chose soy wax because it burns cleaner, is renewable, and helps support our community since soybeans are grown all across central Illinois where we’re located. Soy wax burns cleaner than paraffin wax, paraffin-soy blends, and other non-renewable waxes. Burning soy wax produces less soot and is non-toxic.

Paraffin wax is made from fossil fuels so the environmental impact of paraffin wax is higher than soy wax. Not only does it harm the environment to extract and process fossil fuels into paraffin, but paraffin wax candles may also release toxic fumes when burned.

Soy wax also helps us be more environmentally sustainable because it’s 100% renewable. All across the Midwest, we grow and harvest soybeans. Some of those beans are processed and converted into the soy wax we use in our candles. With proper soil stewardship, Midwest farmers ensure that their fields can produce those high-quality soybeans year in and year out. This renewable source is a big improvement over waxes that are made from fossil fuels, like paraffin and some soy blends, that are not renewable.

Some other candle makers say that their candles are “soy candles” without revealing that their soy wax is actually mixed with paraffin or other non-renewable waxes. Labyrinth Made Goods candles are made with 100% soy wax and no dyes. Although some plant-based waxes don’t withstand extreme temperatures as well as paraffin wax, we worked extensively to test and produce a 100% soy wax candle that has a great scent throw and can withstand high and low shipping temperatures.

Fragrances

We use the highest quality fragrance oils that are always paraben free and phthalate free. We use premium fragrances that include blends of essential oils, extracts, and aromatic ingredients to create a unique sensory experience that set our candles apart.

Our collection of seasonal scents is inspired by the fragrances iconic to the four distinct seasons we experience in the Midwest. Labyrinth Made Goods was founded by women in McLean County, Illinois, a community where farming and agriculture are a key facet of our history and culture. Our seasonal scents, Spring No.57, Summer No.23, Autumn No.84, and Winter No.65, celebrate nature and the ways in which our daily patterns change with the seasons.

The scent of our Spring No.57 candle is like stepping outside on an early spring morning. Winter has melted away, dew sparkles on the grass, and peonies waft through the breeze. Complex floral notes take you on a stroll down a prairie path, the definition of Midwest Spring.

Nothing captured our vision of an iconic summer day more than a visit to the local farmer’s market. Summer No.23 transports you to a Midwest farmers market, past work-worn crates overflowing with fresh picked herbs and cut wildflowers. This scent is uplifting and gentle, floral with subtle notes of sweet hay and cedar to define the long, fruitful days of summer.

Our Autumn No.84 candle takes you to an evening next to a crackling fire, sipping a mug of warm apple cider. Curling up into a leather chair and wrapping up in a blanket, the steam from the mug warms your senses. This aromatic scent captures autumn in the Midwest.

Winter No.65 envelopes you in refreshing ice-kissed air while you hike along a snow-dusted path winding through Balsam Fir trees. This hand-filled candle is bright, peaceful, and evokes all the joy of the winter holidays.

The Serenity Candle™, our signature candle, was designed by the women of YWCA Labyrinth Outreach to capture what serenity means to us as we overcome obstacles and rebuild our lives. Each of these hand-filled candles conveys a serene moment by the lakeside.

When you light a Serenity Candle, you light a beacon for new lives lived with dignity and self-worth. Your purchase lets the Labyrinth sisterhood know that people care about us and our well-being.

Packaging

While wax and fragrances are the key components of our candles, the glass jars, metal lids, and paper packaging give our products the professional finish you rely on. The good news is these components are nearly 100% recyclable. Our glass jars are made from 50% recycled glass and are fully recyclable anywhere glass is accepted. Our jars are also BPA and lead free. The lids are made from tin, which is 100% recyclable. The plastic band inside the lids is made from polyethylene and is recyclable in some areas. Visit https://search.earth911.com/ to find a recycling facility near you.

The paper packaging we use for boxes and informational materials is 100% recyclable and our boxes are made with 100% post-consumer recycled material.

The adhesive labels on our jars are not recyclable and should be discarded into your waste bin.

Learn more about reusing and recycling our containers in order to help us reduce waste.

Author: Kate, Director, Labyrinth Made Goods.

Many candles, even candles marketed as “soy candles,” are made with a blend of soy wax and paraffin, not 100% soy wax. Unfortunately, paraffin is made from petroleum, coal, or shale oil; all of these are fossil fuels and large contributors to greenhouse gases. At Labyrinth Made Goods, we make our candles with 100% soy wax to maximize burn time and minimize environmental impact.

More Sustainable

Soy wax is more sustainable than paraffin and soy-blend candles. All across the Midwest, we grow and harvest soybeans. Some of those beans are processed and converted into the soy wax we use in our candles. With proper soil stewardship, Midwest farmers ensure that their fields can produce those high-quality soybeans year in and year out. This renewable source is a big improvement over waxes that are made from fossil fuels, like paraffin and some soy-blends, that are not renewable.

At Labyrinth Made Goods, we spent countless hours developing and testing the highest quality candle using 100% soy wax.

Longer Burn

Because soy wax is also slower burning than paraffin wax, our candles last longer. This creates higher value for you and more hours of enjoyment for you, your family, and your friends.

For safety, you should limit each burn to a maximum of 4 hours. And be sure you stop burning when there’s ½” of wax left in the bottom of the candle. (You can learn how to properly dispose of the wax and reuse or recycle the jar here.)

Although adding paraffin to soy candles can help cut corners during development, our team at Labyrinth Made Goods wanted you to have the longest burn and highest value for your money, which is why we wouldn’t settle for less than 100% soy wax in our candles.

Great Scent Throw

Scent throw is what we call the way that the scent is emitted by the candle and spreads through your home, office, or other spaces. Cold throw is the scent emitted by the solid, unmelted wax. Hot throw is the scent emitted from the melted wax.

Labyrinth Made Goods did extensive testing and development to ensure our 100% soy candles have a great hot and cold scent throw that our customers expect. Our candles have fragrance blended into the entire candle, which ensures that your last burn is just as good and powerful as the first one. We love how our fragrances fill our homes and leave a pleasant, subtle, lingering scent even after we put them out.

Author: Kate, Director, Labyrinth Made Goods.

1. Safety First

Check out the warning label and safety instructions on the bottom of your candle.

  • Remove the Labyrinth Made Goods™ candle sleeve (and check out our mission and story) before lighting your candle
  • Burn your candle within sight
  • Keep your lit candle away from things that could catch fire
  • Burn your candle away from children and pets

2. Trim the Wick

Before you light one of our unique 100% soy candles, you should trim the wick to ¼ of an inch using scissors or a wick trimmer. This ensures a safe flame height and helps you get a longer burn life from your candle.

3. Pooling

Allow the wax to melt to the edges of the candle each time you burn, if possible. This is especially important for the first time you burn the candle. Getting a full melt pool will prevent tunneling. This usually takes about 2 hours. We designed our candles’ burn pools to burn to about ⅛ of an inch from the glass in order to get the best and longest life out of your candle.

4. Know when to stop

You should burn your candle for a maximum of 4 hours at a time and stop using the candle when only ½ inch of wax remains. If you burn your candle for longer than 4 hours or when not enough wax remains, the jar could overheat or the wick could move from center causing greater risk of injury.

5. Reuse or Recycle Your Jar

When your Labyrinth Made Goods candle has reached the end of its burn life, you can continue to use the beautiful frosted or apothecary green glass jar. Learn how to clean your jar for reuse or recycle your jar at our sustainability page.

Author: Kate, Director, Labyrinth Made Goods

Date: Friday, February 5, 2021

Labyrinth Made Goods™ provides professional development, apprenticeships, and permanent employment to women in our community who have experienced incarceration. We do that through a structured, professional development program called YW Strive and through our 9-month apprenticeships that provide an opportunity to hone important skills and gain employment experience needed to succeed in jobs and careers now and in the future.

YWCA Labyrinth Outreach

Core to our mission, Labyrinth Made Goods™ offers apprenticeship opportunities to YWCA Labyrinth Outreach clients who are participants or graduates of YW Strive. These apprenticeships provide women who have experienced incarceration with an opportunity to gain employment experience, earn a wage, and practice new skills.

YW Strive

Our professional development program, YW Strive, was launched in July 2020 as part of Labyrinth Made Goods and YWCA McLean County. This hands-on program offers a structured learning environment for those who face challenges securing gainful employment, retaining that employment, or advancing in a career. We believe every individual should have access to professional development that enables them to learn skills required to pursue a career and financially support themselves and their families.

While open to the broader community, YW Strive was designed by Labyrinth Made Goods staff, community partners, and YWCA Labyrinth Outreach clients to meet the needs of women who have experienced incarceration. Our program participants learn digital skills for the workplace, essential skills (aka soft skills), entrepreneurial skills, and many more topics and skills most desired by local employers. We also know that just having the knowledge or skills required for a job may not be enough for everyone to overcome the employment challenges they face, so YW Strive participants also receive one-on-one case management and job coaching from our staff to help remove the other barriers they identify. They can also meet and network with local employers through YW Strive.

YWCA Labyrinth Outreach

Labyrinth Made Goods Apprenticeship Program

Labyrinth Made Goods’ 9-month apprenticeship program offers an additional opportunity for women to build and practice important skills that employers are looking for. Clients of YWCA Labyrinth Outreach who are currently enrolled in YW Strive or have graduated from the YW Strive program are eligible to apply for an apprenticeship with Labyrinth Made Goods. Our apprentices either work directly with us to support Labyrinth Made Goods’ business and program growth or they work with a community partner to help other local businesses succeed. We launched Labyrinth Made Goods in September 2020 with two internal apprentices and one external apprentice.

Internal Apprenticeships

Two of our apprentices, Hannah and Shay, are working internally with the Labyrinth Made Goods staff to improve our website, create and implement marketing campaigns, pursue retail partnerships, and more. They are tasked with helping Labyrinth Made Goods tell our story, grow our customer base, and build a profitable business so that we can create more opportunities to empower women. They also work with the Director of Labyrinth Made Goods to identify projects that are aligned with their individual career interests.

While some social enterprises focus their transitional employment programs on product manufacturing and distribution, we decided to take a different approach to ensure that we were using our financial resources and apprentice creativity to help our business grow and succeed. Rather than physically making candles, our apprentices are working alongside our staff to learn about and contribute to our business administration, program development, and sales and marketing. This approach enables apprentices to gain experience in projects that use highly-transferable skills so they’ll be more competitive candidates for employment. They will also have business experience that they can draw on if they choose to start their own business.

The Serenity Candle™, our signature candle, was designed by the women of YWCA Labyrinth Outreach to capture what serenity means to us as we overcome obstacles and rebuild our lives. Each of these hand-filled candles conveys a serene moment by the lakeside.

When you light a Serenity Candle, you light a beacon for new lives lived with dignity and self-worth. Your purchase lets the Labyrinth sisterhood know that people care about us and our well-being.

I had never thought I could start my own business, but from this opportunity, I’m able to identify the business skills I have. Starting my own business could be a way to help support others who have been incarcerated and provide them with employment opportunities.

Hannah

External Apprenticeships

As part of YWCA McLean County, Labyrinth Made Goods has deep roots in our community and, through our community connections, we’ve been able to pilot an alternative, external apprenticeship experience with a local business partner as well. We have one apprentice, Ann, working with David Dow at Schooley Mitchell to support business growth through customer outreach and relationship building. Throughout this apprenticeship, she’ll gain experience with various digital platforms and remote communication tools, sales and relationship building, and developing and implementing business strategies.

By partnering with other local businesses or organizations who share our values and are willing to offer apprentices a supportive work environment, meaningful work, and fair wages, we are able to offer more apprenticeship opportunities. This, in turn, helps more women gain the skills and experience needed to successfully rebuild their lives, explore career options, and strengthen our community.

I'm excited about this job opportunity because it gives me a chance to learn new skills, like sales and marketing.

Shay

Hiring apprentices to help with business and program administration projects has also enabled Labyrinth Made Goods to partner with a local, farmer-owned candle company to manufacture our candles. This partnership ensures that, from day one, our customers receive consistent, high-quality products and that apprentices can engage in the crucial work we need to grow our business and programs. (Look for more information about this partnership in an up-coming blog post.)

Labyrinth Made Goods Apprenticeship Program

While we are confident that our current approach to the apprenticeship program is best for our apprentices and business right now, we know that not all individuals are interested in or suited for the business administrative roles that we currently offer. As we grow and are able to offer more apprenticeship positions, we will prioritize adding apprenticeship opportunities that offer more logistics and distribution work. We also hope to partner with more local employers to offer apprenticeship experiences across a variety of industries to provide apprentices with opportunities to explore jobs most aligned with their career goals.

As Labyrinth Made Goods matures and grows, we are committed to hiring graduates of the YW Strive program and the Labyrinth Made Goods apprenticeship program to work with us permanently. Our graduates not only have the leadership, workplace, and business skills needed to ensure Labyrinth Made Goods can succeed; they are also dedicated to ensuring programs like ours continue to create empowering opportunities for other women in our community.