Apparel · Hidden Gems · Home Goods · Interviews · Small Business

Happiness is Addictive

Hello, friends!

Happy Friday!

I hope you all had a great week!

I hear you. “Two posts in one week? That’s unheard of!” I know! I just had two great people to share with you this week and I didn’t want to wait. I also wanted to give you an opportunity to grab something from their shops for any last minute gifts for your friends and family.

Today’s interview is with Christine from Happiness is Addictive!

Happiness is Addictive is an online shop that helps promote happiness and inspiration. According to owner Christine, “The Happiness Is Addictive Brand is passionate about spreading laughter and creating smiles worldwide. We love bringing our global community together through humor, optimism, cheer, hopefulness and merriment.” 

Christine started the business after a long journey that involved heartbreaking events that made her look for therapy in the form of humor and optimism.

After graduating from the University of Central Florida, Christine first started her career in marketing working with a chain of hotels. She was soon recruited to go into the financial field where she proved her leadership and entrepreneurial skills by managing large projects and opening her own mortgage company. Unfortunately, an economic downturn in the mortgage industry forced her to look for opportunities outside that field. She then began to diversify her income by opening a jewelry/accessory company, an event planning business, and by becoming a seasonal Cast Member for Disney. “Due to the fact that I had two small children, I needed to have occupations that offered flexibility.”

Working for Disney has always had a special place in Christine’s heart. “My heart and soul has always been with Disney since the age of 5 when my parents first brought me to the Magic Kingdom from New Jersey and I had my first magical moment.  I was standing in line to see Eeyore and when another child yanked on his tail, I asked the child not to do so because his tail was tacked on.  When it was my turn to see Eeyore, he gave me the biggest hug, like I saved the day.  I didn’t realize at the time that one moment would forever impact me.  I wanted to create a difference.  I wanted to create magical moments.  I wanted to create a positive impact in the world and make people happy.  I wanted my life to mean something more.  Fast forward to today. I loved being a cast member, as it was truly magical each day.  I loved the guests and getting the chance to make magical moments and hopefully to create an impact on someone’s life in a positive way.”

Unfortunately, a series of hardships all around the same time impacted Christine’s life significantly. “My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung and bone cancer that metastasized from her breast cancer years prior. Being an only child, I was left to help her by myself. Three days before my mom coded for the first time, I shattered my left leg and ankle requiring me to have a plate and seven screws reconstruct my leg. I was beridden for months and it took me almost a year to relearn to walk. I was having to handle my mom’s slow and painful passing from my bed. She coded 5 times and was in 13 medical facilities less than 12 months. I felt so helpless. Then, after a couple months after learning to walk again, I went through a 2 year divorce. Six months later I was hit by a car and now have permanent neck issues. Some days I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day.. but I had to .. I had people depending on me.. my mom, children and family”

During this time there was a glimmer of hope that Christine could hold on to. “One thing that always helped me was humor and optimism.  It was my therapy and medicine. I started a page on Facebook called ‘Happiness Is Addictive’ to post funny and inspirational memes when I couldn’t sleep or was having a difficult day.  It began to grow and people from all over the world would message me to tell me how my posts helped them get through their day.  My posts were helping them hang on.  I was making a difference.  My following began to grow and now I run 10 pages that have over 100k people following them globally. My reach is close to a million people a month.   I have pages on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I donate products to a variety of charities, people that have been financially impacted by Covid, or any other instance that I feel I can help make a difference.”

Now, Christine has her own Etsy shop! In this shop, people can purchase items that help promote the idea that Happiness is Addictive. “The merchandise I offer is primarily inspirational, Disney inspired and bulldog design. All my passions.  I have a little year and a half old female bulldog named Suzie-Q.  She also has a social media presence of almost 10k followers.  My shop is a culmination of all my years of experience in a variety of occupations and my desire to make a difference.  My shop and merchandise aren’t just products to me, but a piece of magic and happiness.”

Christine looks at this project as a long term business that she hopes to be able to leave to her kids one day. “Each day I learn something new and am able to make my businesses strong.  I believe in continuous learning and creating a community around my business and purpose. I eventually want to leave my business to my children to run as part of my legacy.  I want to continue to make a positive impact even though my days on earth will have passed. It has given me purpose, pleasure and financial stability in an unprecedented time.  Each piece of apparel is carefully crafted and completed with love, a smile and a piece of magic from my heart.”

Christine offers this advice to others who are looking to start their own businesses. 

1.  “It should be your passion and not a hobby. I work on my business 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and I consider it fun.  If it’s painful, then you should find your passion and figure a way that you can create a community and business around it.  

2. Consistency, quality and customer service is key.  Always strive to exceed the customers expectations.

3.  Know that a business normally doesn’t become successful overnight.  Some may, but most don’t.  It can take years of research, planning and execution to get your business to the desired level of success.  Sometimes, you may even have several businesses that you go through and learn from to create the ‘Successful One.’  I can’t stress enough to build a genuine community around your business and grow your social media presence.  It takes a long time, unless you have a huge advertising budget and many people don’t when they’re starting out and growing their business.” 

Christine also considers it critical to partner with others especially when first starting up.

“I believe it’s very important to build a community around your brand.  People who have the same desires, interests, beliefs, and passions.  Find groups and communities to join and be genuine.  People can see your heart, desire, and ambition.  The Disney community has been absolutely wonderful.  I’m so grateful to be part of it and will always support my Disney family and friends.”

“I started my business on furlough, but didn’t actively push it until I was formally laid off in October. I was still learning and launching the site in the meantime. October and November were successful months for me, but I learned that not many people purchase around the holidays, at least on an Etsy site because it takes time to craft and ship the item.  Prepare at least two months in advance for any holiday season. The sales come earlier than later. Have I mentioned building your community?  Yes I did and I will again… it’s extremely important.  Partner with social media influencers if you can.  Offer them a free product and get your brand name out there.”  

“One of my best opportunities was becoming part of the ‘Ear For You’ community and various other Disney and bulldog groups.  There are so many wonderful people out there with a kind heart, wanting to offer their support. I feel truly blessed.” 

This year has seen hardships for Christine including being laid off from Disney, close friends and family contracting Covid, and financial impacts. Despite this, she has been able to overcome and in her words “turn something bad into something good. There’s always a silver lining in every bad situation if you choose to see it.” 

“I’m thrilled that my shop was featured in ‘The Thoughtful Gift Club  – 50+ Magical Gifts To Buy This Season (That Support Disney Cast Members Past & Present)’ last month and that you offered to feature my shop in your blog this month.  I also had another kind soul reach out who wants to interview and do a video of my business.  I’ve also had an outpouring of support from the Disney and bulldog community.  Many people have purchased items to help support my business.  I am and forever be eternally grateful.  May everyone have a safe and wonderful holiday season and know that when you make a purchase from my shop, it wasn’t just any purchase…but a little piece of magic to make your day happier.”

Thank you so much, Christine, for taking the time to share your story with us!

If you would like to purchase anything from the Happiness is Addictive Etsy shop, please click the link below!

Etsy Shop

Also follow the Happiness is Addictive on Social Media!


Thank you for reading!

We will be having another post later on this week so keep checking back for more updates!

Remember to support small businesses and always look for the silver lining!

Hidden Gems · Home Goods · Interviews · Small Business

Beautiful Candles with a Beautiful Mission: Collective Kindness

Hello friends!

Today’s article is about two inspiring women who have turned their passion for helping other people into a business.

Collective Kindness Logo

Liz and Leah are a mother/daughter team of entrepreneurs in Central Florida who make candles under their brand Collective Kindness. When I met them for the interview, they both were genuinely kind people whose passion for helping others was contagious.

Beautiful Candles with a Beautiful Mission

Collective Kindness started out as a passion project for the two ladies and now has grown into a full-fledged business. Leah was looking for opportunities for her then 12-year-old daughter to do things to help the community. Finding a lack of opportunities to serve the community, they started doing kindness projects themselves, funding them out of their own pocket. They soon realized that they would have to start making money to continue these kindness acts.

Having served on many charitable boards and working with charities in the past, they realized that starting their own nonprofit or charity could limit their options on what they could accomplish. So, instead of starting their own charity, they made their own candle making business: Collective Kindness.

They started out at the Windermere Farmer’s Market where they quickly started to gain a following.

What Makes Them Unique

They really wanted to make a candle that was different. Both Liz and Leah’s oldest daughter are very sensitive to fragrances and allergens that can be typically found in commercially produced products. It was important for them to research how to make a “green” candle. They needed to learn how to make something that looked good and smelled great but would not be harmful to people, their pets, or their homes.

They invested a lot of time and money to make their product the best it could be. Liz mentioned that there are so many grades of wax, wicks, and fragrance oils that they continually test to create the best possible product that they can.

They currently have over 60 scents that are featured in different collections. Ranging from botanical to gentleman’s to boho to seasonal they really have a scent for everyone. According to Liz, scent is a very personal thing and that is why they offer so much variety to make sure that everyone is satisfied with their product. The vessels that they use are also important to their business. From classic tins and glass containers to vintage tea cups or beer cans, the vessels that they use are as unique as any other element of the candles.

It is all about repurposing and reusing. They wanted to be the most sustainable they could be. Even the wrap bags and tissue paper are from recycled paper. The candles are vegan and certified kosher, as well. The candles themselves have no phthalates which are chemicals found in many mass-produced candles.  The wicks have no lead or zinc and are 100% cotton. They are also a certified green business.

Tea Cup candle Picture

Wanting to give old objects such as tea cups new life lead them to start their recycle and refill program which now is a mainstay of their business. Not only are most of their containers recycled, but they want you to reuse them as well, offering a 20% discount off the next candle if you bring in the old container (excluding vintage and antiques).

They also offer custom pouring. During the interview, they joked between them that they often get gorgeous antiques and beautiful bowls to turn into candles, but sometimes they also get a Trader Joes spaghetti jar to fill. They are proud of this aspect of their business as it is another way to repurpose.

Another core aspect of their company that is important to them is their branding. The branding on their main collections stay the same but they have distinctive designs for special collections. In this way they guarantee not only a great candle but a beautiful package as well.

They added in plants about two years ago to further their home collection. They sell succulents and air plants. They get these plants from their own garden or from a local company called Live Trends out of Apopka. They also sell other small gift items such as tumbled Italian marble coasters and hand painted porcelain bowls. In the future, they want to expand their offerings to feature more local artists.

For now, almost everything is kept within the family or through friends. Liz’s sister makes the coasters and they hand pour the candles themselves. They have a connection with local artist Susan Steele Meyer who creates designs that you can only find in Collective Kindness’s shop. She will sell to different vendors but she will not paint the same designs. These hand-painted bowls fly off the shelf every Christmas because they are keepsake items that their customers want to enjoy for years to come.

They love it whenever customers become obsessed with their candles. Liz recounted a story of a recent event where a young man came to her and said “Hi! I’m Rob and I am your biggest fan.” They like being the proverbial light for people who may not have been able to enjoy candles before, such as people undergoing chemotherapy or who have severe allergies. They recounted another story of a woman who came in and said, “I have loved candles all my life but my son has severe allergies and I have never been able to have them in the house until now.” They find it gratifying that they can bring joy into people’s lives through their product.

Giving Back

Libby's Legacy Candle

Featured above is the Libby’s Legacy honor candle which supports breast cancer awareness with every purchase

Since it is their own business they can help with whatever projects that they want. They can pick a person, an organization, or a local business and use the proceeds from their business to give back.  They have helped children with special needs, breast cancer research, and The Habitat for Humanity. They chaired a build where they raised money for two women’s homes. They helped a family through the adoption process. They pay attention to the needs that they see around them and then give back wherever they can. Liz said that they don’t pick the project, the project picks them. Every single project they have done or person they have helped has started by simply talking to someone and listening to the need.

They try to stay as local as possible because they really want their dollars to impact their own community. It means a lot to them to be giving back and being an inspiration to others. They look forward to growing so they can expand their scope of giving even more.

Future Growth

They are working on future projects that will expand their outreach and potential to impact others. Some of these plans include partnering with other vendors to include more variety in their store and expanding space to create and give back to the community.

They currently have wholesale accounts and want to expand on that in the future. The dandelion logo has become synonymous with their business to the point where even the people at the tax office recognize the brand.

I asked if they saw it turn into the full-fledged business that it is today and Leah responded that they honestly didn’t. Leah just had her third child and didn’t expect this to happen. Liz and Leah have always been involved in giving back to charity. Leah said that her parents raised her to give back to the community. They had sat on charity boards in the past but realized that there was a void of businesses in the community whose core mission was giving back to community. They wanted to change that. When they started, they thought that it might just be something fun to do. Liz had a full-time job and Leah was a full- time mom. Within a year of them starting the business, it boomed to something that they could have never foreseen.

The Story That Started It All

Leah called Liz one day and said, “I am so tired of hearing bad news on the radio, on TV, and on Facebook. Let’s go do something positive today.” Liz having the day off said, “Ok what do you want to do?” “Let’s go feed people” Leah replied. So, they went to Publix bought some ingredients and went back home to make sandwiches. They then went down to Lake Eola and started feeding people simply by walking up to people and saying, “Are you hungry today?” Everyone was so responsive. They were so grateful that someone would take the time to simply be kind.

In talking to them, I could tell that this experience and other similar experiences really made an impact on the direction of their company. Shortly after this occurred, one of Leah’s friends posted a video with the tag “Kindness is Priceless” which soon became their mantra in giving. Leah explained that even their name, Collective Kindness, reflects this line of thinking. They consider everyone, including their customers, involved in the process a part of giving back. So, it truly is a collective kindness.

They really want people to get involved in the community, find out what they can do to help, and just be kind. Say “good morning.” Hold the door for someone else. Do the simple things that make someone’s day better. Be the light in the darkness.

Thank you so much Liz and Leah for your time! You both are amazing!

Picture of Collective Kindness shop

Picture of the Collective Kindness shop in Winter Garden

You can find Collective Kindness

At the Plant St. Market in Winter Garden, FL

Thursday-Saturday 10:00am-7:00pm Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm

On their Etsy shop: Collective Kindness Etsy Shop

Follow them on social media too!



Thank you for reading!

Remember to shop local and be kind! Have an amazing day!