Since 2011, Michael Childers and Glenn Carlson have been making natural candles at Madeline Island Candles in the town of La Pointe as a way to help boost the island's local economy, Childers said. Five years later, their efforts are being recognized nationally, as the company has progressed to the finalist stage of the 2015 Martha Stewart American Made Audience Choice Awards in the nature crafts category.
“We are now a finalist!” Childers exclaimed. “You can tell I’m excited!”
The Martha Stewart American Made Choice Awards "celebrates new rising stars of the growing nationwide maker community who have turned their passions for handcrafted, well-designed goods into small businesses and make their products in America.”
According to Childers, this concept is exactly what Madeline Island Candles stands for.
“From the beginning, our goal has been to help our small community’s economy” Childers said. “We started handcrafting candles to not only support our local nonprofit craft shop--Woods Hall-- but with a dream of creating decent-paying, year-round jobs on the island.”
Madeline Island Candles currently staffs four part-time employees and according to Childers, "the only workers making less than $15 per hour are the owners.” However, the owners would like to expand “winter and online business” and believe that recognition from the award could help facilitate their mission.
“It's recognition for our team's work in making quality products that people enjoy. It's national publicity for the company-- hopefully moving us forward on our goal toward full time employment,” Childers explained.
Currently, Madeline Island Candles distributes products online and from their candle-making studio and shop on Madeline Island, at Woods Hall Craft Shop and at Eckels Pottery in Bayfield.
Because Woods Hall Craft Shop was the first place to support Childers’ and Carlson’s business venture in 2010 by displaying their initial products, the owners now contribute 10 percent of Madeline Island Candles net earnings to the craft shop annually. They believe this money will ultimately create more room and support for local entrepreneurs, like them.
"We would love if you could help us share the word and help earn us votes,” said Childers.
Community members can help support Madeline Island Candle’s mission to win the contest by voting at marthastewart.com. Voting for the contest began on September 21 and will close on October 19. Voters may submit up to six votes per day.
“Vote, vote, vote. Early and often,” Childers encouraged.
Winners of the Martha Stewart American Made Audience Choice Awards will be announced on October 23.