Downlights NZ: Crafting Candles, Creating Opportunities

Downlights NZ: Crafting Candles, Creating Opportunities

Downlights stands as a proudly New Zealand-owned social enterprise and artisan candle company, dedicated to creating meaningful employment opportunities for young individuals with Down syndrome and learning disabilities. 

Founded by Jennifer Del Bel, the company prioritises a supportive work environment, challenging the misconception that disabled workers are only suited for low-skilled roles. As a Living Wage Aotearoa Principal Partner and Akina Impact Supplier, Downlights is committed to producing top-quality, sustainable candles made from 100% biodegradable soy wax, with lead and zinc-free wicks.

Jennifer also established a charitable trust to donate $1 from every candle sold to beneficiaries such as Recreate New Zealand and the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association.

Jennifer’s dedication to inclusion and diversity has made Downlights a shining example for other employers, proving that it is possible to be both altruistic and successful. Her journey with Downlights has taught her patience, compassion, and the importance of fighting for others, making a lasting impact on the community and her own family.

During her journey, Jennifer has faced personal challenges as well. Following a recent surgery, MyTreat sent her some self-care treats, which she deeply appreciated. In her words:

"You've absolutely made my day and totally spoiled me. I honestly have been crying this morning as I still feel so sick and this absolutely picked me up. I’m going to put the face mask on, have a lovely shower after, and crawl back into bed—my new home. I look like a damn mattress now!

"Thank you so much, MyTreat. I was thrilled with the Brownie Mix but all the extra goodies were such a lovely surprise! My kids are going to make the brownies for me and I am going to eat them when I am watching, oh, my 15th Netflix movie in 5 weeks. Takes me 6 hours to concentrate long enough to watch one."

Jennifer’s resilience and positive attitude, even in challenging times, continue to inspire those around her. Downlights, a business with the tagline ‘illuminate, care, change,’ sets a shining example for other employers in New Zealand with the opportunities it offers. It is Jennifer’s hope that this will pave the way for change that leads to greater acceptance for people with special needs to be placed and valued in today’s growing workforce.

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