Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of McKenna Patterson Photography.
Black, Queer Entrepreneur Launches Body Positive PRIDE Candle Collection that Gives Back
As many brands and businesses wrap up their PRIDE celebrations, one black, women-owned business is proud to celebrate being gay all year round with their body-positive, inclusive candle collections.
Jodyann Morgan started C’Toan Co. in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Quarantine had wilted her spirit when it pertained to outdoor activities and to avoid infection, Morgan started seeking out enjoyable, indoor entertainment.
“I needed to find an outlet that was inside my house so I went on Amazon and bought a candle-making kit and it went from there,” Morgan said.
What began as a side hustle bloomed into a full-time entrepreneurial venture when Morgan began to share her hobby on Instagram and post visuals of her candles. Three months later, she left her job as a security guard to pour candles instead. The demand for her product was enormous and, although she didn’t feel fully prepared, Morgan stepped out on faith.
When an online follower reached out asking for her to create a candle molded in the form of a plus-size individual, Morgan decided to embrace celebrating the diversity of her community by creating genderless candles inclusive of all body types.
“I just jumped right in because the response from people was very positive,” she said. “A lot of people really loved the candle. It was my mission to do the community justice and that’s when I started the website because I knew there was a call for an inclusive company that shows you the beauty of different bodies and different individuals.”
For Morgan, her body-positive candles needed to be representative of everyone she’d encountered. Being a native New Yorker, she’d grown up in a cultural melting pot with friends of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. She wanted her candles to be reflective of the diverse faces that filled the earth end to end. This year, her PRIDE Candle Collection allows people to see their bodies, and the bodies of people they love, in accessible art. Unlike big businesses, Morgan seeks not only to sell products but to also make a difference in the LGBTQAA+ community.
At the forefront of C’Toan’s mission is giving back. Two dollars from every candle sold goes to a non-profit or mutual aid fund. This year, the business has donated to multiple organizations including Midwest Access Coalition, Last Prisoner Project, and Forge, a non-profit that focuses on transgender and nonbinary victims of domestic violence.
“Time and time again you see a lot of big-name corporations they just put on a rainbow flag and a few items and bring in millions,” she said. “But at the same time, they’re not really actually contributing to the community that is being affected by being gay.”
Having always been a supporter of community, Morgan is a creator and an advocate for change as she establishes new precedents for inclusivity in the candle manufacturing industry. Believing that everyone can win and succeed, Morgan is leaving open seats at her table for anyone to join. Through her candles, she is creating a safe space for people of color and those in the LGBTQ community to have community and embrace themselves as they are.
“I don’t need to be anyone’s competition,” she said. “I feel like we can all survive; we can all lift each other up. And that’s just what I’m doing in the form of candles.”
C’Toan’s PRIDE Candle Collection will be able until June 30. However, the inclusive brand has more collections coming that feature new shapes, unique colors, various scenes, and genital configurations. As consumers burn their candles and watch the art melt before their eyes, Morgan hopes they feel a sense of self-love and connect with their authentic selves.
“It’s a reminder that you are beautiful exactly how you in your form, however they may be,” she said.