If you’re local (aka near Bainbridge), I’ve got some uber-last minute gift ideas for all of Santa’s elves out there!
Some of these are re-shares from our Maiden South Gift Guide last week, but some are new. Maiden South is open today until 4 pm – so run by for your last minute gifting needs!
For the Gent:
Duke Cannon Big Ass Brick of Soap ($10, for laughs and for stockings), Wrong Side Pocket Square/Hanky ($for classy gents), Lake Seminole Creations turned wood pen ($20 to $40, for the business man), Maiden South Koozie ($5, for the social butterfly), Gang Warily leather key chain ($15, for the one who keeps losing them), Lord & Lady Shotgun Shell Tie Tack ($24, for the dapper professional), My Southern Journey by Rick Bragg ($27.95, for the bookworm), Lake Seminole Creations hand turned wooden bottle opener ($45, for Christmas festivities).
For the Cook:
Southern Restoration tobacco slat cutting board ($120 – only 1 left! – for the historian), armadillo cookie cutter ($6, for the baker with a sense of humor), The Southerner’s Cookbook ($37.50, for inspiration), Heartwood Forge small batch petty knife ($245, for the serious chef), antique re-seasoned cast iron skillet ($40, for the classic cook).
For the Lady:
Vintage Pendleton wool clutch with leather tassel ($70, for the girl on the go), Fuzzy Goat/Maiden South Chunky Martha Cowl Knit Kit ($45, for the crafter), Nest Pretty Things bee bobby pins ($20, for the romantic), Dear Mushka single pearl necklace and verse ($30, for the spiritual gal), Sea + Stone Oyster and Amazonite Necklace ($144, for the mermaid).
For the Frazzled:
Flora Fresca Revival Bath Salt Soak ($18, for the one who needs to relax), Refinery candle ($20, for the hostess), Spritz Sweet Dreams spray ($24, for the one who needs to rest). Side note: pregnant people and tired people really like these gifts. All available at www.maidensouth.com or www.therefineryga.com
For the Baby:
Tiny Vines “this little light” romper ($25, for the light of your life), Tree Hopper Toys wooden jalopy ($15, for the little boy), Tree Hopper Toys wooden puzzle blocks ($20, for the fast learner), Tree Hopper Alphabet art on cloth ($40, for the nursery).
For the Hostess:
And the ultimate last minute go-to hostess or Christmas gift is my personal favorite to give and receive: WINE. With an ornament ($6), cookie cutter ($6), or tea towel ($18) tied on in festive ribbon.
The 16 ounce candles created at The Refinery are high end, selling for $20 each. The candles are made of pure white soy wax, organic cotton wicks and twine, and aluminum tags. The scents are clean and fresh. The supplies are purchased with a focus on eco-friendly and regionally or locally sourced products. The tags are made from recycled aluminum cans and hand stamped. All of these things make a purchase from The Refinery a worthy one. But I wanted the whole story.
So I went to The Refinery, met the ladies, and saw the process. And it’s a story I want to share with you all.
The Refinery was started back in November of last year (2013). Jessica Grace Allen, the brains, heart, soul, and marketing guru behind the operation, took me on a tour last week. Pictured above is the first iteration of The Refinery’s candle. The brass tags weren’t meant to be, but the business has flourished.
Jessica explains the mission of The Refinery, “We believe that change is a process, very similar to that of creating a candle. We, like our candles, are imperfect, prone to rough edges and full of potential.”
The Still Waters Shelter provides homeless women and their children with a safe, faith-based space to stay for 90 days. But Jessica couldn’t help but think about what happens after the ninety days were up. In a small, rural town like Bainbridge, job opportunities are limited, to say the least. The cycle of poverty is harsh, and Jessica wanted to help the women staying at Still Waters get a leg up. So Jessica, with the help of Friends Ministries, formed The Refinery as a means to that end – a way to teach the women important life skills and give them a sense of value and self-worth, all while providing income to Still Waters. The women at Still Waters work at The Refinery two days a week, while using the rest of the week to search for employment elsewhere.
Jeremiah 29:11, pictured above, is displayed prominently at The Refinery, and the verse sums up their mission perfectly.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Using a plethora of fragrances and through much trial and error, the women of The Refinery have come up with some amazing candle scents. Their signature “Still Waters” scent burns in my kitchen daily. Front Porch Breeze, a smell that instantly takes me to summer time, is another personal favorite. There are also seasonal scents, like South Georgia favorite, “Pecan Pie,” and their newest scent, “River Days.”
The Refinery’s scents all seem to evoke a memory, as smell so often does, or are named after regional phrases.
The smaller candles pictured are samples for the local retailers carrying The Refinery candles. The diminutive size also makes them a very special wedding favor, for the South Georgia brides out there!
I didn’t want to just see the candles though, I wanted to meet the ladies and watch them work. The candle making process starts with gluing the cotton wicks by hand to the bottom of each glass votive.
Next, high quality white soy wax is melted, fragrance is added, and the scented wax is poured into the votives.
This process involves more math than one might realize. These calculations require skills that translate far beyond candle-making.
The candles are then cooled and checked for imperfections, teaching lessons in quality control.
Once cool, rims are wiped, wicks are trimmed, and the candles are ready for packaging.
Recycled aluminum cans are cut by hand and eight tags are punched from the resulting small sheet of aluminum.
I watched as one of the ladies used a steel brush to remove the paint from the small discs of aluminum. She had almost completely removed all traces of “Sprite,” when Jessica told her that it “looked good.” She continued brushing without looking up. “It has to be pure, like the candles.”
Next, “REFINERY” is painstakingly hand stamped, letter by letter, across the center of each tag.
The woman hand-stamping the tags last Thursday had never done the stamping before that morning. She confessed that she had been very nervous. “I want it to be perfect. I was so scared I would mess them up!”
It’s obvious that these women take great pride in what they are doing and the product they are creating.
After tags are stamped, holes are punched in the top of each one. By hand, of course.
Organic cotton twine is run through each tag and around each candle, and a label is placed around the wick.
The ladies at The Refinery began selling these candles just prior to Christmas 2013. Over their initial holiday season, they sold over 200 candles. Their candles are now available in many local retailers, who cannot keep the candles in stock. The women of The Refinery happily scramble to keep up with the demand.
Although she wants to continue to grow the business, Jessica stresses that she doesn’t want to grow too quickly. “The process of making the candles is so important to these women’s journeys. We don’t want to rush it. These candles are worth the wait.”
I have to agree. I shot Jessica a quick text to thank her for the tour, for introducing me to the ladies of The Refinery, and to let her know how moving it was for me. Her response?
Thank you for coming by, it made the ladies “feel like we’re important.”
If you’re interested in purchasing your own candle from The Refinery, you can find them at:
2) Save your small glass jars! While The Refinery purchases the large 16 ounce candle votives, their sample candles are made with recycled baby food and other similarly sized jars. You can ship them, drop them by, or I can pick them up from you. Just shoot me an email at email@example.com and we can arrange a pickup time and place.