Fordham Alumni Found Queer Candle Company


Courtesy of the Queer Candle Company

Gibson and Rose sell their candles and donate 10 percent of the proceeds to SLRP. (Photo courtesy of Queer Candle Co.)

Eliot Schiaparelli, Assistant News Editor

With scents like Apple Tree, Cauldron Fire and Morning Dew, Queer Candle Company, founded by Abby Gibson, FCRH ’16, and Alyssa Rose, FCRH ’17, has taken off. It all started when Gibson got Rose candle-making supplies for Christmas. The couple quickly realized their passion and talent for candle-making and decided to turn it into a business.

“We both love candles, and more importantly, we love spending time together, so starting a business that could combine both these things just made sense,” Gibson and Rose said in a statement.

However, the Queer Candle Company does more than sell candles, it also donates 10% of its profits to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SLRP) which is a New York City–based organization that works on behalf of those who are transgender, intersex or gender non-conforming to bolster their voices and advocate for better quality of life.

“Donating part of our profits was always our intention as we formed the brand and our business plan,” said Gibson and Rose. “We think its very important to acknowledge that as educated and employed white folks, we are among the most privileged members of the LGBTQ+ community, and we wanted to make sure that our profits were supporting other members of our community.”

The flaming triangle that adorns the company’s packaging is also deeply rooted in their LGBTQ+ identity. Gibson said when she drew it, she was trying to reclaim the pink triangles LGBTQ+ people were forced to wear during the Holocaust.

“When we were talking about starting the company, we wanted to make sure that our name and logo emphasized the things that make our brand unique to us,” said Gibson and Rose. “We want to be very transparent with our customers that we are queer-owned and support our community with our profits. Our relationship and identities are formative elements of our brand identity, and we love that our name communicates that.”

Rose and Gibson met during their time at Fordham on a Global Outreach (GO!) trip. Since graduating, they have stayed close to those roots and chaperoned GO! trips. Gibson, who majored in sociology and communications, also participated in Rodrigue’s and Fordham Experimental Theatre during her time at Fordham. Rose majored in Latin American and Latino studies and anthropology and also helped found two organizations: Volunteers Around the World Bronx chapter and Radiate Market, a fair-trade online marketplace.

Despite their appreciation for their time at Fordham, Gibson and Rose said they have some issues with the way the university handles LGBTQ+ students. They said that while things have progressed since their time as students, there is still room for progress. They pointed out that many forms only have male and female options, Gibson and Rose also want a more diverse administration that includes more LGBTQ+ faculty and they want Fordham to do more, including providing better-suited housing and mental health services.

“If all of those in power are cisgender, heterosexual white people, how do you make students of color and queer/trans students feel safe and supported? With LGBTQ+ folks in administration, there could be closer checks on administrators who have failed Fordham’s queer community,” said Gibson and Rose.

Fordham’s non-discrimination policy reads, “Fordham University is an academic institution that, in compliance with federal, state, and local laws, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, age, sex, gender, national origin, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, citizenship status, veteran status, disability, genetic predisposition or carrier status, gender identity or gender characteristics or any other basis prohibited by law.”

Progress has been made through the Fordham administration when it announced last semester that it is implementing a new chosen name policy for ID cards, class rosters, Blackboard, Gmail and other Google services. Students also took things into their own hands by planning a lavender graduation at the end of last semester. The graduation ceremony was held to honor the achievements of LGBTQ+ members of the graduating class of 2019.

Both Rose and Gibson still have day jobs, but they hope to someday be able to focus on candle making full-time. The couple is an artist in residence at Artists & Fleas Williamsburg and plan to sell their candles at markets around the city. In the future, they also hope to expand their business to the west coast and open a storefront. For now, they’ll keep making earth-scented candles like “Rosemary and Mint,” and “Basil and Amber.”