While isolating at home during the pandemic, many people discovered a new hobby that brought them joy and a renewed sense of purpose. Colina Bruce, ’07, ’15, decided to transform her hobby into a new home business. She launched Noir Lux Candle Co. on Labor Day, September 7, 2020, turning her love of handcrafting small-batch soy candles in joyful nostalgic scents into an online for-profit venture. It’s a new direction for Bruce, who has worked in the non-profit sector her entire career, but she’s not abandoning her roots.
Bruce partners with non-profit organizations, helping them to raise funds that support their mission through her “Candles for a Cause” collection. Each candle is themed and comes with a custom label. Bruce researches aromatherapy blends and essential oils to create fragrances she feels represent the mission of each partner organization.
Seattle University’s Black Student Union (BSU) is one of Bruce’s partner organizations. This year, BSU members decided to amplify the call for diversity, equity and inclusion through the university’s first Black-serving scholarship initiative. The BSU scholarship aims to help recruit and retain Black and African-American students with demonstrated financial need. The organization’s goal is to create a $200,000 endowed scholarship. Bruce serves as an advisor to BSU.
“I wanted to support the scholarship effort, so I asked the students if I could donate 10 percent of proceeds from a candle I would custom-make for BSU and promote on my website during the month of February, which is Black History Month,” she says. “They were excited about that.”
The candle Bruce created is called, “Black History Month Periodt.” The word “month” is intentionally crossed out. “We celebrate Black History Month every year,” Bruce explains, “but it feels like one month is not enough time to really dive into the accomplishments of Black folks. So rather than celebrating and amplifying Black History Month, I wanted to make the statement that Black history is history period, and we should acknowledge it year-round.”
The candle’s fragrance is called Caribbean teakwood, which contains amber, ginger and musk. “It really embodies what I think of when I think of Black culture,” she says, “strong, fragrant, diverse, complex, significant.”
BSU members also promoted the candle through their social media. A donor offered to match funds raised through candle sales throughout the month of February, which brought total funds raised through the candle funding stream to $1,000.00. Bruce plans to continue supporting BSU through sales of the Black History Month Periodt. candle each February.
Why is it important for Bruce to stay engaged with Seattle U as an alumna? “As a college student, I was always looking for mentors or for opportunities to network with professionals who looked like me, who had an experience that was similar or different from mine, and who was doing well,” she says. “It was encouraging and motivating. So now when I have any sort of platform, I want to utilize it not just to tell my own story, but to give current students hope and an opportunity to visualize their future selves achieving success.”