A Walk Down Memory Lane

by Katie Ishizaka

Three years ago, Labyrinth Made Goods embarked on a journey with a simple yet powerful mission: to build a supportive community for women who have experienced incarceration and provide them with opportunities to thrive. What began as a unique concept to share stories through laundry detergent quickly transformed into a thriving business centered around candles, capturing the essence of growth, transformation, and empowerment. As we celebrate our 3rd birthday, let's reflect on how far we've come in creating a space that uplifts these women and why the shift to candles turned out to be the best decision we could have made.



Labyrinth Made Goods was founded with the intention of creating a platform where the voices of women who have experienced incarceration could be heard and amplified. The idea initially revolved around producing laundry detergent infused with stories of these women. However, as the concept took shape, we realized that laundry detergent might not be the most effective medium to convey these stories.

We asked Katie Novak, a Strategic Marketing partner who has worked with LMG since the beginning, to share some insight on LMG’s early stages of development. “The idea behind laundry soap was to provide a consumable product that customers would need to purchase over and over. At the time, we believed the barrier to entry into that market could be overcome and that we could make a product that our community would love. Over time we learned that the chemistry behind laundry soap and the barriers to bringing a product like laundry soap to market were outside of the scope of our intent and we looked at other options including candles and body care products.” 

We knew we needed something more personal, more intimate, and more symbolic of the transformation these women undergo. This is where the idea of candles came into play.

Candles, with their ability to bring light to darkness, soothing scents, and symbolism of hope and rebirth, aligned perfectly with the narratives we aimed to share. Each candle became a canvas for the stories of these remarkable women—stories of resilience, growth, and the journey towards a new chapter in life. As we shifted our focus to candles, we found that not only were we able to better communicate the essence of these stories, but also create a product that resonated deeply with our audience.


Over the past three years, Labyrinth Made Goods has grown into more than just a business; it's become a thriving community. We've successfully cultivated a space where women who have experienced incarceration can find not only economic opportunities but also a supportive network. Through workshops, mentorship programs, and collaborations with local businesses and organizations, we've fostered an environment of growth, learning, and empowerment. This community has become a source of strength for these women, a place where their past doesn't define them, but instead fuels their journey forward.


“When I think about the progress LMG has made since those early days in 2017 it fills me with pride and gives me great hope for the future. What started as a small project has turned into a budding, active, social enterprise that truly is making a difference. Having had the opportunity to rejoin the LMG team in 2021 to assist with marketing and messaging it seems full circle to some degree. I got to be there when LMG was in its infancy and it’s so exciting to have been part of the team as LMG grows and develops. Social enterprises, like cooperatives, are an innovative way to address social issues and LMG embodies the hope that alternative business models provide,” shared Katie Novak.


Our journey from laundry detergent to candles taught us a valuable lesson: the power of adaptability. Sometimes, the initial path we envision might not be the most effective one. It's essential to listen to the feedback of the community and be open to change. While we started with a unique idea, we didn't hesitate to pivot when we realized that candles could carry our message more effectively. This adaptability has not only allowed us to thrive but also enabled us to better fulfill our mission.


As we celebrate our 3rd birthday, we're immensely proud of the strides Labyrinth Made Goods has taken. We've built a community that uplifts, supports, and empowers women who have experienced incarceration. With each candle we create, we continue to illuminate the stories of these remarkable women, spreading hope, understanding, and inspiration far beyond the flickering flame. Here's to the next chapter of empowerment and growth for Labyrinth Made Goods and the incredible women we serve.