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Pearl Street Lights Shines as a Top Woman-Owned Winner

The candle company was named a Denver Metro Chamber winner


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Minority or Woman-owned Business of the Year

Winner: Pearl Street Lights

Pearl Street Lights creates and manufactures hand-poured soy wax candles with crackling wooden wicks, fragranced wax melts and massage candles. But the bigger mission for founder Kerry Humphrey has been to provide a means for people engulfed in hardship to learn to believe in themselves.

To help accomplish that, Humphrey has partnered with Mile High Workshop, a nonprofit that hires and trains people experiencing barriers to unemployment. That includes people formerly incarcerated, in recovery from substance abuse, and those who have experienced homelessness.

 Humphrey is no stranger to such hardships, and she willingly shares her story with others in hopes they might find inspiration in it. Central to her story is the creation of Pearl Street Lights in 2014 when she was living in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

“I was having a tough time, struggling with anxiety and depression, and I was actually on probation and had lost my job, lost what I thought was everything stable in life,” Humphrey says. “My outlook on life was very bleak. Then I saw a wine bottle lantern, and I got it in my head that I wanted to re-create it.”

It took Humphrey several days to figure out how to cut and sand bottles, but at the end of the week she had a wine bottle lantern she could be proud of – and the inspiration to start a business.

“For the first time in a really long time, I had a spark of hope of joy, that I could make something of value,” she says. “That became really important on my journey.”

 Another part of that journey was to transition from wine bottles to candles. “It became really important to me to provide opportunity to other people who maybe experiencing hardships too,” she says. “I really believe in the greatness and the potential of everyone in our community.”

Thus, baked into every candle is the signature of the worker who made it, to instill a sense of ownership.  “And when customers see the products on the shelves, they are connected,” Humphrey says. “They see, ‘Hey, there’s a real human being behind this.’ And I’m helping support them and their journey.”

Now based in Lakewood, Pearl Street Lights has increased sales every year since its founding. Looking back on her transformation from self-doubt and near-homelessness to award-winning business owner, Humphrey says a key was to surround herself “with people who believed in me before I believed in myself.”

Among the early supporters she cites is the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute.

“RMMFI was the first organization that really switched something in me,” she says. “It’s been truly extraordinary to have them at my side. To be able to call them at different moments of my business and really asked for and get that support has been extraordinary.

“Now that I’m experiencing growth, I’m committed to doing that for other people.”

Finalists:

360 Engineering Inc. is a woman-owned mechanical engineering firm serving clients in Denver and across the U.S. Founded in 2003 by Denise Dihle, the full-service firm was built on providing exceptional customer service, which remains its core value and top priority.  360 Engineering’s services consist of mechanical and plumbing engineering, sustainability consulting and commissioning.

Cesco Linguistic Services Inc. delivers interpreting and translation services in more than 120 languages, working in health care, education, social services, nonprofit, legal, workers’ compensation and international development sectors. A connecting voice across languages and cultures, Cesco Linguistic Services adheres to the principles of quality, efficiency and confidentiality, delivering services in a prompt, professional manner.

 

2019 Business Awards: Woman or Minority-Owned Business of the Year Finalists from Denver Metro Chamber on Vimeo.

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Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor is the editor of ColoradoBiz magazine. Email him at mtaylor@cobizmag.com.

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