By Alexandra Frisbie
“If you want change, make the change. Put yourself in the game.”
Like many other institutions in America, the real estate system is built on and steeped in white supremacy and racism. Home ownership builds generational wealth and equity, which in turn can pay for things like student loans and other educational and lifetime investments. There is a big disparity between the size and location of real estate available to white people and Black people, which perpetuates a vicious cycle in which it is extremely difficult for Black people to build generational wealth.
Kim Vendryes learned this from the time she was a child, when her mother used to drive around Greenwich, Westport and Black Rock, Connecticut to expose her to other nice neighborhoods and let her know that anything was attainable. As Kim recalls, her mother used to buy houses in Bridgeport for two or three thousand dollars and work on them to sell at a profit. This sparked her interest in real estate at a young age.
Kim became interested in investments and wanted to be her own broker. She originally shied away from real estate because she didn’t like sales. Instead, Kim worked for a large healthcare organization, doing nothing related to real estate, but her interest and passion for real estate never waned. In 2018, Kim “woke up”, in her own words, and decided to register for classes to obtain her real estate license. She took the required sales classes and passed the state test on her first try.
Kim has been in business now for just about three years. Her business is almost 100% referral based. She views real estate ownership as more than a transaction; it is a life experience that should be equally available to everyone. Her strength is helping people who may be afraid of commitment to real estate to understand that it can facilitate them to get what they want. Kim has primarily mentored first-time home buyers and says it is incredibly gratifying to see them learn firsthand that home ownership is achievable.
One experience Kim shared was of a long time friend of hers who was raised by her grandparents and never knew her own mother. She never thought she could be a homeowner. Then, one day, her uncle was selling his house. Her friend was interested, but needed help through the process. She was very nervous, but Kim walked her through it and when she bought the house, it changed her confidence--not only about homeownership but also in so many other aspects of her life.
Kim has conducted several workshops over the past few years to assist with minority homeownership. She is planning to launch a “Main Street Initiative” to teach prospective homeowners about credit and wealth, provide educational empowerment and possibly partner with mortgage companies to provide a product to assist with down payments and closing costs.
Kim wants people to know she is very approachable and happy to answer any questions about homeownership. She can be contacted at (203) 816-1764 or on Facebook. When you call her, mention you read about Kim Vendryes on ShopBlackCT.com!
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By Brenda De Los Santos
Summertime Fine. Living Single. Get Ta Steppin’. Gramm’s Kitchen. These are just a few of the varieties of candles and wax melts made by So Black Candle Co., “the place where culture meets lit scents,” based in New London, CT. Kylah Chadwick, owner and creative force behind the online business, combined her love for candles with elements of Black culture to create the business in September of 2020.
Chadwick hand makes all of her products, and has done extensive research and testing to ensure that her candles and melts are the best. Her products use a parasoy wax blend, which she says has a nice scent throw, and she customizes the amount of fragrance in each variety based on the type of jar used. She has even researched to ensure her candles have the right wick so her candles have strong scent throws, slow, clean burns, as well as longer burn times. Chadwick notes, “Before you ever get the candle there is so much testing that goes in behind it. I double check the packaging and the candle itself. I go above and beyond to make sure when the candles arrive they have a good experience.” She has even gone so far as to contact shipping services on behalf of her customers.
A one-woman show, the business keeps her very busy — she does everything herself, from website creation and maintenance, designing her product labels, and regular trips to the post office to ship orders. She thinks that being relatable to people is a big part of providing great customer service. “At first, some people don’t realize there is an actual person behind the business,” she says, “but then people see that I am a regular person listening to their concerns.”
With many other handcrafted candle businesses out there, Chadwick knows the concept behind her candles and melts stands out. “People will see a label and connect to it whether it's a show that they remember or that the Gramm candle reminds them of their grandma.” Some of her most popular varieties are 90’s R&B, a sangria scent that comes with a playlist, Double Melanin, a cocoa butter and cashmere scent, and her sample packs, which include nine varieties in tea light form. Her Black culture-centered products are available as wax melts, 4 ounce candles in a tin, or 8 ounce candles in a glass jar, as well as two different options for sample packs.
“People will see a label and connect to it whether it's a show that they remember or that the Gramm candle reminds them of their grandma.”
Having gone to school for social work (she has a masters degree in it) and currently working as a full-time crisis specialist, candle making has given her a creative outlet; She sees each candle as a work of art. “I feel like I found my passion,” she says, “I knew I wanted to make it into a business, I just didn’t expect it to go this fast.” So Black Candle Co. celebrates it’s one-year anniversary in September 2021, and Chadwick’s next goal is to be working for herself.
Find So Black Candle Co. on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or visit their website to shop or learn more.
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