When I jumped into creating Project BE Bold last year, one of my key goals was to showcase people out there using their passions to make the world a better place. I think it is truly important to learn from innovators who find ways to use their talents in a way that is unique and bold.

Meet Affton Shouse, resident of Bend, Oregon and founder of Abuse and Reuse candle & body products. In an effort to be a steward of the earth; a dispenser of healthy, organic and local products; and the creator of kick-in-the-pants, one-of-a-kind wares — Affton has had a blast and inspired those around her. Her concept is to take used wine, beer, liquor and soda bottles and transform them into candle holders. She then fills them with organic soy wax, scented with one of her collection of 170 natural scents.

Beyond creating candle votives that inspire her, Affton also takes requests. Her clients often bring her bottles that have sentimental value – rather than have the bottle sit to collect dust, she transforms them into keepsakes that can be used forever.

It’s amazing when we dare to break the mold and dive into a trade with passion. Those around an innovator tend to become inspired, jump on the bandwagon and the next step comes naturally. For Affton, the process is taking her local project countrywide. Soon her Website Abuseandreuse.com will go live for the world to see…stay tuned!!

The following is an interview that I was fortunate enough to conduct with Affton. May her words and thoughts inspire you to dive into your very own unique passion:

Where did you grow up? Beautiful Hailey, Idaho. I went to Wood River High School.

What did you like to do as a child? I always enjoyed arts and crafts. Making friendship bracelets that I took to school and sold when I was like 10! ha! Loved interacting– always had a ton of friends. I also liked playing football after school with the neighborhood boys! I was always the only girl.

Tell us about your school experience – why did you like and/or dislike school? I loved art class…hated anything that involved doing homework. I love the social part of school and loved my teachers. I always did very well on tests, but barely passed classes because I refused to do homework! If I could go back knowing what I know now, I think I would have been a straight A student!

What are your passions/interests in life?  I love getting dirty. Camping has always been a huge part of my life along with fishing and hunting. I enjoy being outside no matter what the activity may be. My passion is self sufficiency…I love being able to do my own thing!

What inspired Abuse and Reuse? I had been saving bottles that appealed to me. After a  pile of them in my window seal I realized I either needed to do something with them or throw them out. I had made candles before and loved the idea…WaLa!!!

Do you have competition, and how do your product offerings differ? Every business has competition. There are a lot of people that had this idea before I began – I strive to make my products better by using the finest materials. I am very into my local community and try to buy everything possible right here in Bend, Oregon. I also pride myself on my customer base. My customers thus far have shown extreme loyalty and great constructive criticism which has helped me grow and provide a better product.

How can you make yourself stand out above your competition? Listening. I love feedback on every single item that I sell, whether it is good or bad. Listening to what my customers want and expect from my products has put me above my competition. This idea is pretty new to the Northwest which gives it a huge advantage!

Tell me about the bottle/candle making process? Do you enjoy the process? What are the challenges? The candle making process is actually quite lengthy. First is the cutting of the bottle. Then comes the sanding which takes about 15 minutes per bottle for the smooth texture. The filling of the holder is the longest process, taking up to two days! I am always trying to better my techniques and speed up my process. I enjoy my product but do to the length of the hole filling process I have my moments of discouragement.

How will you reach out to customers so they know you’re there? Word of mouth. I am constantly talking about what I do and where to find my products. Being made of recycled materials makes for great conversation and interest amongst many people.

What advice can you offer those looking to start their own? Don’t be scared. There are so many options and opportunities out there for small business owners, especially women. Utilize your resources and don’t give up! Owning a business is very discouraging at times, but hard work, dedication, and persistence goes a long way!

What would you do if money weren’t an object? How would you approach your business and life? Keep doing what I’m doing! Sure, I wouldn’t have to make due with old tools and slow equipment, but I love what I do. Not going to lie, an employee or two would help!

In you mind, what does it mean to live boldly? Stand out and stand behind what you believe in. Don’t judge and don’t be judged.

What are your favorite quotes? Live like you are dying!

As Affton continues to grow her business, Project BE Bold will provide updates. Stay tuned! To order her products prior to her site launching, visit the Abuse and Reuse Facebook page by clicking here.

– Post By Jen Engevik

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