We had the good fortune of connecting with Lee Howard and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lee, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
To not solely focus on the bottom line, but to be intentional in creating a beautiful high-end product line that provides an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. I made the decision to model my company after the scripture verse Philippians 2:3-4 that says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others”. Doing this has given me the passion and drive to keep going even in the hard times.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Within the RE + NEW + ALL workspace in Memphis, TN, a group of survivors gather each week to learn artisanal candle making. Using our therapeutic work model, we empower survivors by giving them an opportunity to earn an income, build their resume, obtain job skills, ignite their creativity, and grow professionally in a safe and nurturing work environment. When we officially launched in September 2019, we took a big, brave step into the unknown. But there’s one lesson we’ve all learned very well at this point: For every leap of faith we’ve taken, a net has appeared. Over this last year, people have continued to show up and give RE + NEW + ALL the ability to keep growing. We have a fantastic business consultant who offers advice pro bono. We continue to develop wonderful collaborations with other businesses. We even survived a tornado hit and moved into a brand new studio space just a few months ago while continuing to navigate the unknowns of Covid-19. While we have faced many challenges, we are especially grateful for our RE + NEW + ALL community. Because without their support, none of this would be possible. Every single one of us is a light in this world. And when we allow ourselves to shine, we have the ability to make a real difference in the lives of others. At RE + NEW + ALL, this message of light is the heart of our mission. As our candlemakers recover from the trauma of trafficking, creating beautiful candles for you reminds them of their own light and beauty. When they sign their names to each candle they make, it’s a way of sharing their light with you and creating a connection. And in turn, they’re comforted by the light of your support, your prayers, and your encouragement as they grow in confidence. The time spent in our studio is one of several roads to a new life for these women. And each of you is a brilliant flame cheering them on and illuminating the way as they move forward. When you purchase one of our premium-grade, luxury candles for $38, you’re doing much, much more than buying a piece of decor. You’re lighting the way for women who were lost so they can find their way back to themselves. You’re giving them the opportunity to figure out their purpose, so they can return to the community and care for others. Your encouragement and caring helps them reclaim their self-worth.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There is so much to see in Memphis with a lot of hidden gems that make this city fun and unique that a week in Memphis truly isn’t enough, so instead this is a list of the top 10 things Memphis has to offer. 10) The iconic Peabody Hotel – whether you stay here or not, the Peabody Duck March is a must-do. Every day at 11 am the Peabody Duck Master and his ducks ride the elevator down to the lobby and march across the red carpet into the fountain. At 5 pm they leave the fountain and march back to their marble home at the top of the hotel. 9) Gibson’s Donuts – A mom-and-pop donut shop known for its unique and tasty treats. You haven’t been to Memphis until you have had a Maple Bacon donut by the Gibson family. 8) The Hen House – Memphis’s fun new wine bar that is perfect for a girl’s night out. 7) Otherland’s Coffee – an eclectic coffee house in the heart of Midtown Memphis is a fun spot to sip on coffee and people watch (if you are into that kind of thing). 6) The Basspro Pyramid – Even if you are not into the outdoors, the Basspro Pyramid is a fun place to stop while in Memphis. You can explore the man-made swamp as well as take a ride to the top of the Pyramid to see one of the best views Memphis has to offer. 5) Shelby Farms Park – Whether you go for a bike ride, rent a paddleboard or have a picnic in one of the open fields, Shelby Farms Park is fun place to relax and enjoy nature. 4) Memphis Rox – A place to give back and exercise all at the same time. Enjoy a day of rock climbing and bouldering while supporting a community initiative of offering a renewed sense of hope to challenged communities. A state-of-the-art rock climbing gym that gives back. 3) Civil Rights Museum – There is so much to say about the place, but words really cannot do it justice. No matter if you are a history buff or just an ordinary citizen, touring this museum is something everyone should experience. 2) Brother Junipers – Easily one of the best breakfast places Memphis has to offer. It’s known for its open face omelets, cinnamon roll pancakes, and family-friendly atmosphere. Be sure to plan ahead because there is almost always a wait to get in. 1) Broad Avenue – Take a day to walk Broad Ave and explore the unique shops and locally-owned restaurants. There is even a brewery at the end of the street for those who enjoy craft brews. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
To my A Way Out ladies, who are the heartbeat and soul of RE+NEW+ALL Candle, thank you for choosing to join me on this crazy journey and for inspiring me to look at life differently. You are the true heroes in my story.