Jefferson Bethke Fights Injustice With Candle Company


Jefferson Bethke is known for illuminating some of the differences between religion and true faith. His 2012 YouTube video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” has been viewed more than 27 million times and the accompanying book became a “New York Times” bestseller. But now Bethke is shining a more literal light on injustice through a socially-conscious candle company. Claro, which is Latin for “to bring light to darkness,” is his newest venture. The company sells candles, donating a portion of every sale to non-profits that benefit various causes. The candles are now being sold in 64 stores spanning 21 states. The retail giant Nordstrom has just set up Claro as a vendor and is expected to place their first order soon.

Bethke hatched the idea with his friend and business partner, Brett Kolomyjec, while on a trip to Uganda in 2012.

“At the end of our trip, we saw pillar candles for sale in a store with a little sign that said something like, ‘Bring light to a trafficking victim,’” Bethke says. “We were sick of the model where non-profits beg donors for money and trying to brainstorm a better way. We began thinking about how we could use the domain of business to make money to give to non-profits.”

he pair settled on candles, according to Bethke, because of their “timeless” appeal and the “double meaning of selling light and bringing light to others.” The candles are 100% soy, hand poured by a single Claro employee in Tacoma, Washington. To increase their uniqueness, Bethke says they’ve selected unusual scent pairings such as “Whiskey + Oak,” “Satsuma + Honey Almond,” “Tobacco + Fig,” and “Amber + Citrus Ginger.