Xela Aroma: Austin Street’s Luxury Candles Light the Way to Support Homeless Women

Story by Kacie Frederick. Photos by Jerry Crayton.

For 40 years, Austin Street Center has supported Dallas’ most vulnerable by providing food and housing to neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. In 2021, Austin Street Center’s Sisterhood Program partnered with Xela Aroma, a candle-making business, to help foster an ecosystem of support for women in the center.
Teresa Thomas, Director of Advancement Communications at Austin Street Center, smiles during a Xela Aroma candle-making workshop.

“These women have experienced multiple layers of trauma,” shares Teresa Thomas, Director of Advancement Communications at Austin Street Center. “It is through Xela that they are able to break away from their traumatic pasts and create something on their own. The program helps to foster confidence and self-sufficiency.

Xela Aroma is Austin Street’s first social enterprise. It serves the dual purpose of generating philanthropic and earned revenue, while serving as a hands-on work development training ground helping clients resolve their homelessness with critical life skills. Xela’s products are hand-poured, using natural fragrances and essential oils.

The Sisterhood Program, which clients can opt into, serves a maximum capacity of 42 women at a time. Through this pathway, the women can access classes ranging from self-help, counseling, anger management, financial planning, and recognizing red flags in relationships. Participating in the Xela Aroma internship is also an extension of the program.

At most, ten to 12 women work with Xela at a given time. The small workshop size ensures they receive the attention they need to become successful businesswomen. As the internship program began last summer, Xela hopes to grow and increase the number of women they can support through professional development.

“I cannot convey enough how much need there is,” Teresa says. “There is so much need. Shelters only serve a slice of humanity, and I wish we could do more to help.”

Teresa is currently supporting Xela with its strategic planning process. The business is revamping its website and researching its market and customer base. They also plan to expand their product offerings and packaging.

Austin Street Center is a non-profit organization that provides food and housing to people experiencing homelessness in the Dallas area. Austin Street Center is a 501(c)(3) organization, making your donation tax-deductible. To donate, please visit https://austinstreet.org/donate/. Or, to purchase a candle to help support the women of Xela Aroma, please visit https://www.xelaaroma.com.