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Minneapolis candle company shines light on child care costs

The candle company Mother & Mai will donate a percentage of its profits to families in need of child care assistance.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — When Monique and Michael Thomas moved to Minneapolis nearly a year ago, they were faced with the dilemma of how to pay for daycare.

Before then, the couple from Houston received a discount on daycare at their apartment complex because Monique worked there. 

After moving to Minneapolis for Michael's job at the University of Minnesota, they quickly noticed how much of their money was going toward daycare for their 3-year-old daughter, Mailynn. That's when they decided Monique would stay at home to take care of their daughter. 

"Rather than her working just to pay child care, we decided to create something that we can create generational wealth from that we can help others with," Michael said. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Monique Thomas with her three-year-old daughter, Mailynn.

In September 2021, they created the candle company Mother & Mai

Michael serves as the creative director while CEO Monique makes the all-natural soy wax candles. 

They started the business by selling Mother & Mai candles from their signature collection at markets and festivals. Earlier this month, Mother & Mai launched its Lovewell Collection featuring three scents, including, "If Black History Had a Smell" and "If Pride Had a Smell." 

"I just wanted to embrace the nuances of being a human being. Just be who you are," Monique said. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Earlier this month, Mother & Mai launched its Lovewell Collection.

They also want to give back to other families. Michael said the business plans to donate 5%-10% of its profits to parents in need of child care assistance. They are currently looking for a daycare to partner with in identifying families in need. 

According to Care.com's 2021 Cost of Care Survey, 85% of parents report they are spending 10% or more of their household income on child care — up from 72% in 2020. 

Credit: Mother & Mai
Monique Thomas hand pours the all-natural soy wax candles.

"We're grateful and we're blessed to be able to have our daughter in daycare two days out of the week. That's a blessing. But there's some people that can't even do that," Michael said. "That's just a big issue to me... if we can help one person, I'm fine with that. We're just trying to do our part." 

Mother & Mai candles can be ordered online. They also plan to sell their candles at local festivals and have partnerships with Minny & Paul and MN Black Box. 

Know a local business we should feature for our Behind the Business segment? Email Heidi Wigdahl at hwigdahl@kare11.com.       

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