Riau, the social initiative that smells good

Riau, the social initiative that smells good

Vegan candles handmade by locals in the process of social reintegration.

Love the smell of freshly cut grass, but hate mowing the lawn? Well, Riau Canada has what you need! This Saint-Henri candle company offers several vegan candle fragrances handmade by locals in the process of social reintegration.

If you go to the Saint-Henri factory, right next to the old Grumman'78, you will probably meet Rama, who has been making candles there for three months, a job she found thanks to the collaboration from Riau Canada with Montreal aid organizations.  

Having previously experienced financial difficulties, she regained her confidence thanks to this opportunity. Rama makes around 40 candles a day, greets customers with a smile and packs online orders. 

The company was born last December, just in time for the holiday season, thanks to Franca Ciambella, an international lawyer who returned to Montreal during the pandemic after 30 years in Singapore.  

While her return was initially motivated by a desire to be closer and help her family, it was the high number of homeless people on the streets of the metropolis that convinced her to commit to this deliciously scented social initiative.  

But Riau existed before her. On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, in Asia, American friends of the lawyer, settled there, offer people in the street an opportunity to work: they make candles in exchange for remuneration. She asked them if she could bring the concept to Montreal, and they accepted. 

Social reintegration

The company therefore hires ex-drug addicts, people living in poverty or with one or more mental health problems in order to give them a chance in the labor market. Ms. Ciambella collaborates with organizations such as the Mission Bon Accueil, which helps people in need, and the employment preparation program Mire. 

Last June, the company managed to hire 11 people to produce candles. However, given the increasingly high costs of deliveries, sales have declined. Customers were more reluctant to order online: “People were trying to buy on the site, but when they got delivery, they gave up,” says the owner. L he company therefore had to slow down production and, at the same time, reduce the number of employees for a while, in order to focus on marketing and find solutions to restart production.   

Riau is currently looking for points of sale and, for some time, you can pick up your order at their workshop to avoid delivery costs. The lawyer, who continues to practice despite this recent project, seems determined to overcome all obstacles to continue to help!  

Summer and funky fragrances

Among Riau's selection of products, we note summer fragrances such as lavender, lemongrass or a walk in the forest, and quite unique and bursting scents such as fresh cut grass or aftershave.  

The candles are made from 100% soy wax, the wicks are cotton, the fragrances are vegan and they are handmade in Montreal.  

Some even wink at look at cities from home: 

  • Montréal joy of live, which smells like fleur-de-lis; 
  • Vancouver Cool, made with wild rose and other local flora;&nbsp ;
  • Fort of Toronto, containing scents reminiscent of columbine, the flower that appears on the coat of arms of Toronto; 
  • Canada True North, the result of a mixture of the scent of the national flower and various pines of the country. 

We order online or at their workshop to make plus inspiring encounters. 

Address: 642, rue de Courcelle, #106, Montreal (Quebec) H4C 3C 5

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