One Year Ago...

by Kate Brunk

One year ago today, we launched Labyrinth Made Goods. We took a deep breath and plunged into the unknown. We had carefully crafted five 100% soy candles scented with bespoke fragrances; we believed in our product and our people. Most businesses fail within 5 years, but our mission to empower women who’ve been incarcerated, a mission that grounds every business decision we make, is too important to fail. We have to believe that we’re entitled to succeed.

One Year Later - Labyrinth Handmade Goods

One year ago, we launched our apprenticeship program and offered paid employment to women who had experienced incarceration. They embraced the opportunity, learned new skills, contributed their creativity and insights, and made Labyrinth Made Goods better.

One year ago, we were in the midst of the pre-vaccine pandemic. Our world was struggling, our community was struggling, our families were struggling, we were struggling. We found support and optimism in one another. We created a space to uplift, empower, and support each woman on our team.

One year ago, our professional development program, Strive, was also brand new and we were learning and adapting to what our participants needed. We were able to adapt our in-person plan to ensure one of our participants could fully participate remotely. We were able to build a micro-community of women who were struggling against barriers that were holding them back from becoming entrepreneurs or from building their careers. These community leaders have taken what they learned from our program and continue to pursue their dreams since they’ve graduated from our program.

Strive Graduation

One year ago, we were just learning about supply chains and lead times to get the highest quality components for our candles. Our phenomenal advisors and partners like David Dow, Jim Neeley, and Bonnie Saindon were teaching us how to build a sustainable business built for long term success. Lisa Wilson was getting us ready to start developing fragrances for our new Resilience Collection.

One year ago, Shay was just learning all of the administrative tasks, unexpected challenges, and thrills of success that come with launching a business. She was learning how to leverage her digital and communication skills in a professional setting. She was learning how to do a sales pitch and connect with potential partners in professional but always authentic ways.

One year ago, Ann was learning self worth and was so unsure of the direction of her life. She was trying to understand the ups and downs of being out of prison but not being really free. She was learning that she had the skills necessary to be self-sufficient and, with the Labyrinth Made Goods apprenticeship, she was able to use those skills. With her hard work and support from the Labyrinth Made Goods team, Ann is now working in her field, marketing; she’s still out of prison, working, and has become self-reliant.

One year ago, Candice was learning to embrace self-confidence and the power of her voice. She was figuring out how to let go of insecurity and fully engage participants as she ran sessions in our professional development program. She was starting to be proud of herself for all of her tremendous accomplishments and contributions that help others achieve their dreams.

One year ago, I was testing my adaptability and problem solving more than any other work or passion had. I was learning the specific mental aptitudes and endurance that I needed to move our work forward. I was re-learning that seemingly small actions and words can have profound impacts on building deep and meaningful relationships with colleagues. I was un-learning my habits rooted in perfectionism that always holds us back from reaching our full potential and tapping into our creativity. (This last one may be a life-long endeavor for me.)

One year ago, we took a big risk, we launched a business rooted in empowering women and our community in the middle of a global pandemic. We took a risk, relying on women who have been incarcerated to carry our work forward. We took a risk, believing that you would share our vision and optimism in the leadership of these women. We took a risk and it paid off.

Resilience Collection Candles

One year later, we’ve released new sizes and scents, we’ve offered new and improved opportunities to women who’ve been incarcerated, and we’ve shown that when we come together as a community, we can create transformational change.

One year later, we continue to work alongside amazingly talented women. We problem solve together and get through some tough situations. Our vision for our work keeps us pressing forward so we can provide these same transformational opportunities to more women as they rebuild their lives, find confidence, and recharge their self-worth.

One year later, we are inexpressibly grateful to each of you, our customers, advisors, supporters, and partners. It’s with your love, support, and faith in us that we are learning new things and building the momentum we need to succeed. We hope you celebrate this one-year milestone with us!