Photos courtesy of Bindi Road Candles
Carley Stidham is ready to tell you about her homemade candles at this weekend’s Lion’s Club Arts and Craft Show at the Christiansburg Recreation Center.
By Marty Gordon
The love of a pet has turned a small business into a mission of love for a Radford couple. When a kitten came in the life of then-12-year-old Carley Stidham, history was about to be changed.
“My wife has always been in love with animals, especially cats. So she spoiled Bindi. Turns out though Bindi had FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), so she had to get even more special attention,” Jordan Stidham said.
Bindi passed away after 11 years with the Stidhams. The feline immunodeficiency virus infects between 2.5 percent and 4.4 percent of the world’s cats. Since the virus is a feline-specific disease, it cannot be transferred to humans.
The couple started dating in high school and then continued dating as students at Radford University. They were married in 2016.
Jordan is an accountant for Community Housing Partners, and Carley works at Blacksburg Eye Care. They were looking for a side business to supplement their income when a light — or in this case, a candle — came on. They established a candle-making business, naming it “Bindi Road.” They donate the profits to local animal shelters.
“We started this company in November of 2018. When we lost Bindi, my wife was devastated. We continued to adopt and help animals in any way that we could, but we found ourselves wanting to do more,” Jordan said.
His wife and mother-in-law had always been candle “connoisseurs” of sorts, smelling and burning the different varieties. Everywhere they traveled or shopped they stopped to smell them.
“We really started enjoying going to markets and festivals and seeing local products and decided it would be a great way to do something together,” Jordan said.
They were really surprised though at the amount of “junk,” including soy, that was in commercial candles. After having trouble mixing a truly clean wax, the couple came upon the idea of mixing beeswax and coconut oil.
“We messed around with the ratio of the two until we found the right amount that mimics a soy candle, but with 100% natural wax, and that is what makes our candles so unique,” Jordan said.
They have now converted one of their guest rooms in Radford into a candle-making room.
“We start with jars and raw wax and oils. We hand blend the wax and pour the candles in small batches. Our second guest room has become our ceramic studio and foster room, so in our house there are no guests, just cats, candles and ceramics — everywhere,” Jordan aid.
“Bindi was easily the most lovable cat. No one was a stranger to her. She just radiated unconditional love. She lived to be 11 years old, and a couple of years ago, right before Christmas we lost her to complications with FIV,” Jordan said.
As they started exploring the idea of candle making, they thought what a perfect way to sell candles, while raising money to donate in Bindi’s memory.
“So, we started dreaming and planning and launched Bindi Road. We set a goal that after each crafts show, we would put a portion of our money into a donation box, and once we had enough we would call an animal shelter and see what they needed most and go buy as much as we could with the money we set aside,” Jordan said.
“After doing that for a bit, we still wanted to do more, so we started fostering kittens. So now the money left after donations goes to pay for the litter, food and other supplies we need for the fosters,” he said.
So far, they have donated 800 pounds of cat litter, 200 pounds of dog food, 48 cans of dog food, 432 cans of cat food, 20 dog toys, 15 gallons of bleach aside from the needs of the fostered cats.
“We hope to grow the sales of our candles and ceramics, and we are trying to launch our products online and eventually do wholesale along with our festivals,” Jordan said. “Our dream is to sell our house and the majority of our things in Radford and buy a small farm to expand Bindi Road. We want Bindi Road to become Bindi Road Farms,” Jordan said.
They plan to not only make candles and ceramics on the far, but also take in any animal that needs a home.Jordan says the place would be a sanctuary farm of sorts, structured as an actual non-profit where momma cats, feral cats, old cats, dogs and farm animals can all have a place to live out their lives.
“We hope to create a fully functioning farm where we can serve the community in every way possible. We want to grow produce, honey and other things and sell them in a ‘pay-what-you- can’ fashion,” Jordsan said.
He admits their dream sounds big, but they have so many people and animals they want to help that a big dream is needed.
“We want to provide local food for people, no matter their income levels. We want to support other animal rescues, as well as our own,” he said.
The couple is currently working on recycling old car tires into feral cat houses. They paint them, insulate them and place them, hidden, throughout the community to help animals stay warm in the winter.
“Our goal is to take our kayaks down the river every summer and pull old tires out. We will use those as our feral cat houses and drop them around the cities we do our festivals in,” Jordan added.
Bindi Candles will be at the Lions Club Christmas Show at the Christiansburg Recreation Center this Saturday, December 7.
They have 23 different scents of 13-oz., mason-jar candles with about 23 scents and sell them for $15 each or for $25.