Girl Crush Company founder Candace Abel (center) and team members Jackie Abel (left) and Carla Rissmiller display some of the artisan soaps created by the Mount Joy company. The company is working on becoming a social enterprise to use its profits to educate, employ, and empower local, at-risk single mothers.


A Social Enterprise With Single Moms In Mind 

Candace Abel started making her own soaps and lotions when she was on a quest to find healthier products to use for her youngest son, who has a critical form of a blood disorder known as thalassemia, which requires intensive medication and gene therapy for survival. "I thought, 'If we can put better things on the table, then we can put better things on our bodies, too,'" recalled Candace.

Candace's use of goat's milk and oils to create soaps and lotions with an artistic flair caught the attention of family and friends, who asked her to make the products for them to use and then placed even more orders for things like party and wedding favors. In 2018, Candace decided to turn her hobby into something more and established Girl Crush Company as a limited liability company (LLC).

Girl Crush Company is a member of the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild and uses organic, responsibly sourced oils and goat's milk or honey from local suppliers. The products, which range from eye-catching unicorn swirled soaps to whimsical hand soaps with scents like heirloom tomato and oatmeal and honey, contain ethically sourced colors and fragrances. Using responsibly and ethically sourced ingredients is important to Candace, as it means no animal testing and no child labor have played a role in any of the products, which are all made in Girl Crush Company's soap studio in Mount Joy.

Now Girl Crush Company is in the process of becoming a social enterprise in order to use its profits to educate, employ, and empower at-risk single mothers in the local area. "The goal is much bigger than creating soaps," Candace emphasized. "We want to make our footprint healthy in the ingredients that go into everything but also as a social enterprise, and what a social enterprise strives to do is use a lot of its profits for an intended good."

A portion of the profits from Girl Crush Company's sales of products, which are available to purchase at and at local events, will be used to establish a mentoring program for at-risk single moms.

When volunteering with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Lancaster County, a nonprofit organization that allows trained community members to be appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in foster care, Candace could not stop thinking about the lack of support the single moms had in and out of the courtroom. After many conversations lamenting the need for more resources for single moms, someone challenged Candace to do something about it - and now she is.

"What I'd like to offer these women is the assurance they are not alone," said Candace. The company is a reflection of Candace's heart for helping others - something she is no stranger to doing. She founded Elizabethtown-based nonprofit Brittany's Hope in memory of her daughter, Brittany Ann O'Connell, who died in a car accident in 1999. Brittany's Hope focuses on aiding and facilitating the adoptions of special needs children from around the world.

Candace and her daughter-in-law, Jackie Abel, who also works for Girl Crush Company, are in the planning stages of launching a two-year pilot program where compliant single moms would be assigned a trained mentor mom. "(The mentor's) job will really be to offer as much love as possible during the process," explained Candace. Beyond one-on-one mentoring, she envisions a community piece with a weekly meeting time for single moms to spend time together. "People need that connection, the opportunity to build relationships and to see a model of someone living a better way even though it may not be easier," Candace continued.

Girl Crush Company, along with other LLCs still to be determined or developed as part of the future model for the program, would also offer employment and skill set development opportunities for the single moms. A board of directors will oversee the LLCs and mentoring program, with the goal of providing a holistic approach in supporting local, at-risk single moms and practically equipping and empowering them to move forward. "I believe we need to offer a holistic approach that (each mom) had a hand in creating," added Candace.

*This article was written by Chelsea Peifer and was originally published in the October 2, 2019 edition of the Merchandiser. Original article can be found here.