With big, bouncy pigtails, an even bigger smile, and a waft of heavenly smells coming from the stall I was too curious not to come and see. The table was crammed full of spooky looking products.
Cheryl is the owner of Bubba’s Meltys; an independent wax melts and candle company. Made from home, with the help of her family, she creates these wonderful items. But there’s an unusual twist: every item is named after a mental, physical, invisible, or chronic illness.
Naturally, I was curious so I asked what it was all about.
“I was diagnosed with ME or chronic fatigue syndrome and also patella femoral and chondromalacia in both knees. This is extreme and causes me severe pain which triggers the chronic fatigue. Combined they triggered severe anxiety. This all began about ten years ago now. But I went through all the processes of becoming disabled and I’ll. it’s like a grieving process. I used to be super active and wanted to change careers into working with search and rescue dogs. So this was devastating to me. A few years passed and then I started making my own candles and wax melts. This helped ease my anxiety and was a creative outlet as I couldn’t exercise any more.”
“I had lots of friends and family tell me I should sell them but I didn’t want to be just another wax melt and candle seller. I wanted more depth. More meaning. I realised others probably felt like me who were also ill and many probably felt isolated even with family and friends. It can be very scary. So I decided to let my creativity combine with my wax melt making talents and use them to reach others suffering. I wanted to connect with others and inspire them and show them they are not alone. That they matter and that others understand how they feel. I felt like attaching illnesses etc to the wax melt collections would also validate to those suffering that it is real and that someone supports them. Having chronic illness can feel like no one believes you.”
Looking at the collection there’s some really great pieces and each come with a little note attached to explain the inspiration behind the design choice.
When talking to Cheryl it’s very apparent how passionate and caring she is about the message of the business, and often refers to the ‘community’.
“The community around my business has just organically grown. If so many folks reaching out and messaging me. Some were very touching stories. All very humbling with people thanking me for validating their illness. People just want to connect. So I started a Facebook group that was a safe place to go and chat with fellow spoonies. No judgement. I also get emails and private messages all the time. I made some amazing friends through this. All who understand my pain. My customers are amazing too. They look out for me. If I mess something out they let me know. If I’m a little longer getting an order out they are super understanding. The community is growing. It’s everything I wanted to achieve and more. I just wanted to show people they are not alone. The feedback even today from someone who said they found my shop and a particular wax melt I do has validated to them that they are not alone in their suffering. They said it was what they needed to see as they were in a very dark place. I get messages like these all the time. It’s very humbling.”
“Living with any kind of health issue is not easy at all. At the beginning it’s very hard and like a grieving process for the old healthy you. All I can say is stay strong. You matter. It is not the end. It’s just a change to the journey. A new adventure. You are still amazing and can do anything you want to do. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first. Those who matter will remain in your life. Don’t waste time worrying about those who won’t understand. There is a whole melty army to support you too. It is not easy by far. But you are not in this alone. “
All images used with permission from Bubba’s Meltys.