Young entrepreneur supports Rosies

Kenzie's Candles owner Mackenzie Robinson poses with her candles in a Rosies - Friends on the Street supporter shirt

Entrepreneur Mackenzie Robinson makes candles in her Shailer Park home

It was a chance encounter at a market that inspired 12-year-old Shailer Park resident Mackenzie Robinson to start local candle business, Kenzie’s Candles.

“We were coming home from a camping trip and stopped at a market, and I saw a stall selling candles and thought it looked really cool.” Mackenzie said.

“I like candles, they are very nice and comforting to have around the house.”

The Year 7 student has sold candles through her Instagram account @kenzies.candles since August last year and hand pours everything in her parent’s kitchen.

The young entrepreneur’s mother Kylie said operating the business had helped Mackenzie to understand budgeting.

“It’s good for her to learn to manage the expenses, look after stock control, and make sure she has enough put away to cover cost of new items,” she said.

Not only does Mackenzie look after the business side of things, but she also has included an element of social enterprise into her model, with $1 from every sale going to support Rosies – Friends on the Street, a Queensland-based charity that supports those who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or socially isolated in the local community.

“I was a bit surprised that Mackenzie wanted to start a business, but I was not at all surprised when she said that she wanted to donate money to Rosies,” Kylie said.

“She has always been a very caring person and had learned about Rosies through her Year 6 teacher Ms Carol.

“Ms Carol is a Rosies volunteer in Beenleigh and had a big impact on a lot of the girls in the class – she shared about her experiences volunteering and they made care packages for those in need.”

Yvette Carroll, a teacher at Kimberley Park State School, built a module called “The Pursuit of Happiness: Is it within everyone’s reach?” which focused on whether the world was equal for all and looked at some of the factors that prevent people from happiness.

“It was really important to me that the students defined what happiness is to them and then we looked at some of the things that plague society and often swept under the rug – things like racism, inequality, homelessness, etc,” Yvette said.

“During the module I spoke about my volunteering with Rosies and shared with the students some of the stories that our patrons have shared with me on outreach and it really gave them some context about the social factors behind homelessness.”

One of the outreach locations for Rosies is just a 15-minute drive from the school where Yvette teaches and by sharing stories from members of their local community, she felt like things were put into perspective and opened the eyes of the Year 6 students.

“Prior to teaching the unit I think a lot of the kids thought homelessness didn’t happen in Australia. That it was a problem in places like America not here, but the local stories helped them see it was happening in their backyard.”

Yvette, who is also a team leader at the Beenleigh branch, has been volunteering since December of 2019 and speaks fondly of her experiences with the organisation.

“I really enjoy it and love the connection, each month I get to sit alongside someone that the rest of society ignores. Sitting alongside and talking to the patrons gives you a dose of perspective – some of the most intelligent conversations I’ve ever had have been with our patrons on outreach.

“I have been guilty in the past of looking away, but I now understand how important it is to be seen. I feel really privileged that in a couple of hours each month, we make someone feel seen, heard and acknowledged.

“On our outreaches we really like to serve our patrons, we invite them to sit down, take their coffee orders, and then the team members deliver them as if they were at a cafe. The patrons might not get ‘served’ in other areas of their life but when they are with us that is the least that we can for them. The whole team loves getting involved and providing this service to our patrons.”

It is through sharing experiences like this with the students that inspired Mackenzie to tack on support of Rosies to her business model.

“Mackenzie was really enamoured with the whole ‘Rosies experience’ and explained about the organisation to her parents. Kylie was interested in volunteering but unfortunately all our Beenleigh teams are currently at capacity,” Yvette said.

“When Kylie shared the link to Kenz’s Instagram page I was elated. As a teacher it’s what you hope for, that you can inspire someone and that if even one child can leave my classroom as a stronger more empathetic person, then I’ve done my job. What Mackenzie is doing is amazing and I’m very proud of her.”

With the support of her parents Mackenzie has sold more than 120 candles and releases new scents every season. You can purchase a candle and support a local business and a grassroots charity by visiting Mackenzie’s Instagram, @kenzies.candles