Today we’d like to introduce you to Amirah Beeks-Jeffries.
Hi Amirah, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Sometime around 2015, I was still working through my grief process of losing my grandfather in 2013. My dog was aging (in which I had to eventually put him to sleep due to his diminishing health condition)-I remember trying to find ways to heal, learn who I was as a young woman, practice self-care and finish my doctoral program.
I also remember helping out a lot of family and friends with their life challenges and finding that I was always feeling burnt out. I knew that I needed to make changes in my personal life, but I also wanted to be able to help those close to me.
When creating this self-care line, my overall goal was to create products that foster change in how those close to me care for themselves mentally and physically. One constant quote is that “you can’t serve from an empty vessel.” Essentially take care of yourself to have enough energy and mental well-being to care for those around you.
Most recently, I have been navigating through my grief and healing journey after losing my daughter, Nova Iman, to a condition called PPROM in February. I was four months pregnant. This has been the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with, and I’ve turned my pain into passion, making candles. Like all of my candles, they are inspired by songs that have helped me through difficult times. I have dedicated three candles to my sweet Angel in my collection, ‘ Light the Way, Nova Iman.’ The three scents are Dancing in the Sky, Free Mind, and No Weapon. I am raising awareness about PPROM by donating some proceeds to the Little Heartbeats Organization.
Overall, Refuge was inspired by my journey to establishing peace and perseverance through difficult moments in life. What I’ve learned is that healing and self-care are not destinations, but they are journeys you navigate through over time.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I officially launched Refuge Candle Co. in November 2020. I remember battling with the thoughts of “who do you think you are,” “No one will buy your candles,” etc. I would say that the hardest part for me was believing in myself, my product, and my mission to start it. I did a soft launch in 2019 and made candles as my wedding favors. I received a lot of compliments, praise, and feedback about my candles, which helped motivate me to keep going. Once I pushed past my fears, I believe I have been doing pretty well. Since launching, I have been able to have my candles in two stores, the Makers of Maryland Shop in White Marsh and the REI-Co-Op store in Timonium.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a school psychologist for Baltimore County Public Schools. I provide counseling services to students and families, test for special education services, assist with developing individualized/school-wide interventions, etc. I wanted to be in this field because I wanted to become who I needed to be when growing up. What I love about being a school psychologist is being able to work with students and help them navigate through life. Children and adolescents have a lot that they deal with daily, and sometimes they feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to or that because you are an adult, you don’t understand it from their perspective. Sometimes, I may not understand, and if that is the case, then talk me through it so that I can. But most times, I feel like I can understand because I’ve experienced it personally, speaking with students their age, etc. I would say that I am down to earth, and I see potential in our students. My full-time professional life translates to my business because being the “container” for others can sometimes be overwhelming, and self-care is important. I have learned that even in the workplace, you have to set boundaries and be clear on what those boundaries are. Most proud, I was nominated as School Psychologist of The Year for Baltimore County during the 2019-2020 school year.
What set me apart? – I am passionate about what I do. Many of my personal experiences have led me to pursue a career as a school psychologist.
Candles- I would like to expand my business to more stores. I curate natural soy candles and handcrafted concrete vessels. My candles are inspired by songs that helped me through difficult events in my life.
Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Professional-wise (school psych), My mentors have been my previous internship supervisors and colleagues who have been in the field a little longer than I have. When finding a mentor/ networking, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I used the candle-making kit from candle science when I started making candles. I eventually started watching different YouTube videos and trying different methods. I knew early on that I wanted to have a unique vessel. Initially, I wanted to make ceramic vessels. But after some research, I realized that sitting at a potter’s wheel wasn’t for me. With some more research, I learned about using concrete. Once I tested a few times and didn’t get the results, I wanted to go to Instagram to see if anybody else was making concrete vessels. Some people were unwilling to help, and a few were willing to share their tips/ suggestions. Had I been too nervous to ask, I would not have been able to perfect my craft to my liking. I would recommend at least trying to troubleshoot yourself before asking because that learning process, in my opinion, is important. Just because something works well for others doesn’t mean it’s what you need to grow your business.
- 8oz candles- $25
- 1oz candles-$6
- 12 oz candles-$45
- 20 oz candles $50
- Website: www.shoprefugecandle.com
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/refugecandleco
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/refugecandleco
- Other: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0n8hK4OFcIqkYzaEcZsAC1?si=f1c7e5ecb8f2458e
family picture: credit to Hayden Po