by Aaron Earls
Spoken-word YouTube sensation, New York Times bestselling author, and candle maker? That would be one crowded business card for Jefferson Bethke, but the man behind Jesus > Religion has launched Claro Candles, a company designed to shine light on global needs.
A portion of every candle sold will benefit a non-profit targeting specific social injustice. Bethke and fellow co-founder Brett Kolomyjec believe this type of targeted, socially conscious business model could bring lasting change.
Bethke said they “were both in the non-profit world in different capacities and saw how sometimes fundraising is very unsustainable.” As an attempt at a solution, they developed Claro, which comes from Latin meaning “I illuminate.”
For Bethke, it comes down to this rhetorical question. “Knowing that all domains are God’s, why not use business to make money more sustainable and be able to give it away?”
For the spoken-word artist turned entrepreneur, this is part of his growth as a follower of Christ. “The more I studied Scripture and tried to follow Jesus obediently I saw that these things were central to His ministry,” Bethke says. “God is bringing about new creation in the person and work of Jesus, and that entails us as disciples to bring about new creation as well.”
Candles seemed the obvious choice for their endeavor after Bethke and Kolomyjec saw another business using candles in a unique way. “We loved that candles are timeless in that they’ve been around forever, but they burn away and then the person wants to buy another,” he said.
They also loved the double meaning of “bringing light to social injustice,” as well as serving as a practical reminder of injustice when lit.
After testing and developing unique candle scents, Claro ties each one to a specific area of injustice. For example, “Water,” which combines amber and citrus ginger scents, supports The Water Fight and provides a year of clean water for a person in east Africa.
|Care||Food For The Hungry||Life-saving vaccination for a child|
|Earth||Plant With Purpose||Tree for an area threatened by deforestation|
|Education||World Vision||Day of school for a child|
|Food||Food For The Hungry||Meal for a hungry child|
|Freedom||Celebrate Recovery||Rehab session for a recovering addict|
|Love||Resotration Gateway||Night of shelter for a homeless orphan|
|Peace||Exile International||Trauma counseling for a former child soldier|
|Rights||Genesis Project||Rescue protection for a victim of the sex trade|
|Water||The Water Fight||One year of clean water for a person in Africa|
The company is a labor of love for Bethke for a host of reasons, one being that he works there with his wife, Alyssa. Kolomyjec’s wife, Devon, also works at Claro.
Bethke says this is a natural outflow of the way he views marriage. “When you are married you are one,” he says. “So I really push back against the idea that a business is ‘mine’ but not Alyssa’s.”
Those interested can purchase candles at Claro’s website and online retailers like Zulily, but Bethke says they are in talks with Nordstrom and several other retailers.
With his latest venture taking off, Bethke shows no signs of slowing down, saying he splits his creative energies four ways—writing books, developing online content like his YouTube videos, speaking, and Claro.
As far as the latter is concerned, Bethke wants to continue making “quality products that people enjoy, as well as using business to fight injustice.”
For more information visit ClaroCandles.com or follow them on Twitter at @ClaroCandles. You can find out more about Bethke at JeffBethke.com and @JeffersonBethke.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of FactsAndTrends.net.