PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Randolyn McKinstry is approaching her first anniversary as a small business owner in Allegheny County. Last spring, she started McKinstry and Company Candle Shop.
She makes the candles in her basement. The idea of becoming a candlemaker started almost on a whim, during a conversation with a friend.
“And I’m like, ‘Hey, I forgot your candle,’ and he said ‘don’t worry about it,’ and I was like ‘I should start making candles,’ and he said ‘why not.'”
And one year later, McKinstry told KDKA’s Lisa Washington, “Not only do I make candles, but I also host candle parties where people are hosting events as well as fundraisers.”
She added, “I just had one of my biggest parties for 50 people where they were making their own candles, picking their own scents and really having a good time.”
McKinstry is a lifelong Pittsburgher. She was born and raised on the North Side.
“It’s my heart,” she said. “The North Side is my heart, and I couldn’t see developing my business anywhere else.”
In addition to starting her business, she also recently purchased her first home.
McKinstry says she’s proud of her accomplishment and isn’t surprised by the findings in a 2019 report on inequalities across gender and race in the city of Pittsburgh.
The report found that the city that is often touted as one of the most livable is actually least livable for African-American women.
“We are not treated equally in the city of Pittsburgh. We are not. We are looked past because not only of the color of our skin and because we are women, and sometimes they don’t think we’re good enough and we are. We are good enough.”
McKinstry says she is working to change that narrative and invest in her business.
She says she continues to invest in her business and share her lessons learned with young black women.
She told KDKA’s Lisa Washington, “It’s important to be in the community and teach these young black girls how they can be successful and it’s not just about education, but to live in this society. You have to be able to live it, not just know it.”
McKinstry remains optimistic about the future for women who look like her.
“I’m hopeful that our black women are treated better and they are taught better,” she said.
As for McKinstry and Company, she would like to expand the business, provide scholarships and internships, and realize her biggest dream of opening a store front.
“That’s really what I want to do,” she said.
“Right now I’m traveling for the parties but I would like people to have a safe place to come and celebrate their accomplishments whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary or you just want to have a girls day.”
It’s the goal for a North Side business, to ignite the flame in others.
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