Oct. 27, 2021
Milk Jar CEO supports organizations for children with disabilities
Holly Singer, BSc’12 (Kinesiology), is CEO of Milk Jar, a candle-making company with an inclusive workplace that donates $1 of every product sale to support organizations for children with disabilities. The 32-year-old powerhouse says her employees give Milk Jar a greater sense of purpose and wants to expand her initiative Canada-wide.
What’s the key differentiator behind Milk Jar?
We handmake clean-burning candles with wood wicks and diffusers. Our mission at Milk Jar is to create inviting spaces. We do this by creating a beautiful-smelling and natural product for your home and by inviting you into our workshop to learn the tricks and secrets of candle-making (and get you in touch with your creative side!). It’s in our workshop where you’ll find that one-third of our amazing employees have disabilities.
Where did you hang out on campus?
- Read all the profiles of 2021 Top 40 Under 40 honourees from UCalgary
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Donating over $100,000 in the five years of Milk Jar being a company to various non-profits supporting children with disabilities in Alberta.
Do you use your kinesiology degree in what you currently do?
I sure do. It was in my Kines degree that I learned about adaptations in sport and physical activity for people with disabilities and where I started a practicum with the Special Olympics and with a family facilitating a pool-therapy program. A lot of the skills and knowledge that I learned at university I bring to Milk Jar as an inclusive employer.
Were you ever worried that Milk Jar might fail?
Not really. I remember thinking that, if we donated $500 that first year, it still would have been worth it.
[By the end of 2018, Milk Jar had far surpassed initial expectations by earning $189,219. In 2019, that number doubled, and by 2020 it soared to nearly $1.04 million. Today, Milk Jar has donated more than $100,000 to non-profits for children and adults with disabilities.]
What is the most satisfying thing about your job?
Seeing our staff so happy to be working at Milk Jar. It's very important to me that we create a place that people feel safe and included and are proud to contribute to.
Any advice for students or new grads?
Do not stress if you don't know what your career is going to be. Milk Jar started four years after I graduated from U of C after working three other jobs, including waitressing full-time. It was hard for me to feel like I didn't have it all figured out when I was 25. Now, looking back, I am so happy I tried out different paths, which led me to create my own.
What are you watching or reading these days?
I am reading Essentialism [by Greg McKeown]. It is a fantastic book I think everyone should read, especially if you feel that you spread yourself too thin and say yes too much. It's all about learning to decipher the essential few from the trivial many.
When you are not working, what do you do?
Spend time with my puppy, Bowie, a toy golden doodle who is the sweetest and cuddliest pup!
What’s your favourite game?
Where do you hope to take Milk Jar?
I’d like to use Milk Jar’s dollar donations to create a wage-subsidy fund to help encourage other employers to hire inclusively and, eventually, grow this initiative Canada-wide.
With files from Avenue Magazine