My family has always been a source of creativity and strength. Watching my mom and grandma immerse themselves in various projects, from crafting to gardening, ignited my love for the creative arts. However, in 2019, I found myself battling deep depression, initially unaware of its presence. Despite the symptoms, I pushed through, hoping to stay strong for my family. It wasn't until I hit rock bottom, lying on my bedroom floor overwhelmed by hopelessness, that I sought professional help. Therapy became a crucial part of my healing journey.

Amid this challenging time, I discovered solace in my creative side. Gifted a candle making kit by my mom, I delved into the therapeutic process of crafting candles. It not only became a creative outlet but also a tool for developing skills like time management and resilience. The process was filled with frustrating successes, perfect accidents, and overwhelming failures, but the satisfaction of creating something beautiful was unparalleled.

This newfound passion extended to my children, especially my youngest daughter. In January 2020, my mom taught her to make wax melts, and she sold out within 40 minutes in our neighborhood. This marked the birth of Southern Tot Collection, our family-run company with the motto "Light up the dark." It symbolizes the resilience to find light in the darkest moments, sharing our stories, and passing the torch to those battling their internal struggles.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, I, like many others, lost my job. Stepping away from my professional career in dentistry, I used the time during the global shutdown to invest in our business. I worked tirelessly on our brand, created various candle scents, and developed a marketing plan. This effort resulted in increased exposure, leading to our first drive-thru candle pop-up shop, providing a contactless way to showcase and sell our products.

As our company grew, so did the challenges. With my children returning to school in a changed world, I temporarily paused production to prioritize their education. However, in April 2022, we fully relaunched and have been busier than ever, attending markets, festivals, filling wholesale orders, and collaborating with other small businesses. Our future goal is to inspire and guide others, especially the youth, on the benefits of entrepreneurship and the joys of business ownership.



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