Small Business Member Spotlight: WANDERNESS

Hullo! I’m Amanda, and I live in Montpelier with my partner and two kiddos. At the end of 2020, I launched a travel-themed candle brand, WANDERNESS. As an avid globetrotter and returned Peace Corps volunteer, I wanted to create a business that celebrated travel. Scent is a powerful trigger of nostalgia, so I decided to build a brand of scented candles inspired by amazing destinations around the globe. I knew I wanted to incorporate sustainability and giving back from the very start. My day job is as a social impact and brand consultant, and I know that it’s easier and more authentic when a company is born with positive values in its DNA.
As a new business, it can sometimes feel like my impact is limited, but I try to view each decision I make through a few key lenses: will it help my business succeed? Will it reduce my environmental footprint? Can I support traditionally disadvantaged groups or local Vermonters? Sustainability is something of an incremental approach: every small choice helps reduce my impact. I avoid single-use plastics in favor of recycled and recyclable packaging, and I choose removable labels so that my customers are more likely to repurpose their candle jars. I source materials in the region to reduce my shipping footprint. Social impact often happens through behind-the-scenes business decisions, like seeking out small candlemakers in New England. I’m working with candlemakers who are at least two of the following: woman-owned, Black-owned, a social enterprise, local to the region, and/or environmentally-focused.
While candlemakers are my most visible partners, I also try to support the Vermont business community. I selected two Vermont women as my attorneys, seek to print materials in-state, and look for marketing partners among fellow Vermont brands like Overeasy and Fat Toad Farm. I also believe a visible social impact platform is an important part of a brand’s story. It is an extension of the company’s purpose, and has the ability to not just give back but also raise awareness. Since WANDERNESS exists to celebrate travel, our signature social impact platform is around creating more opportunity for travel.
Travel changed my life, and I know that WANDERNESS customers have a special connection to the destinations featured in our candles, from tuk-tuks in Thailand, to crashing waves in Cape Town, to the souks of Morocco, temples in Tokyo, or the lavender fields of France. Students who get the chance to go abroad not only widen their horizons and see new opportunities for themselves, they are more likely to complete their education and improve their grades, yet travel is often prohibitively expensive.
WANDERNESS donates 10% of profits to organizations like TOCA (Teens of Color Abroad) that help low-income students, particularly students of color, access the life-changing experience of travel. As a start-up, my impact feels pretty small, but I hope as I grow that these early commitments will keep guiding the business to do good wherever possible.