FACETIME- Lighting the fire: Father, son find healing with candles


Atman Johnson and his son Param.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

Atman Johnson remembers 2002 as a dark year. He lost his wife to heart disease and his job as a food supplier. Making life even harder: Johnson had the sole responsibility of caring for the couple's disabled son. This year, however, Johnson has found a way to bring light– and some money– into his life with a new company.

"I wanted something we could do together," says Johnson of his decision to pursue organic soy candlemaking with his now 19-year-old son, Param, whom he and and his late wife took as an infant foster child and adopted at age 2 1/2, knowing that with cerebral palsy he would need lifelong care.

Johnson describes Param as an "outgoing and highly personable" young man who's confined to a wheelchair and uses a voice box to communicate, and says he took to the enterprise, Golden Presence SoyCandles, right away.

Finding work that the two could do together wasn't easy, but as Johnson reviewed his options, the idea of candlemaking appealed because of his interest in environmentally friendly products. While petroleum-derived paraffin wax, the candle industry standard, emits toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, vegetable-derived soy wax, Johnson explains, burns more cleanly– and up to 50 percent longer– than paraffin.

Despite his physical limitations, Param is able to participate in the candlemaking by overseeing the wax melting. He's able to control the temperature on the hot plates by pressing a button. His father adds scents and vegetable dyes– all organic– before pouring the melted product into various shaped containers.

So far, the Johnsons have been generating buzz by word of mouth, in addition to selling their wares at the City Market, on the Downtown Mall, and at church markets, including a fair at their own Church of the Incarnation.

 "I think this gives Atman a chance to express himself artistically," says Lauryn Mathena, the church's outreach minister. "We thought we knew a lot about them," she says. "Now we know they have this creativity, this artistic ability, to produce these beautiful candles, and it gives us a chance to support Atman and Param and to watch this little family business blossom."

 Because of his tight financial situation, Johnson hopes to see Golden Presence candles in stores locally and one day, perhaps, beyond. Param's adoption subsidy, the father and son's only income after Johnson lost his job, will end less than two years from now when Param turns 21, though Johnson will continue to provide full-time care for him long beyond that.

Even more than earning a living, however, Johnson says he hopes to spread the positive energy he and his son share while making the candles.

 "I feel," he says, "that there's a spiritual significance to burning candles." 

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6 comments

I love making soy candles, too, and I greatly admire you, Mr. Johnson and son for working together making soy candles!

I too am a member of Candlewealth and you must know that I'm also disabled, I'm Deaf myself and have been in the home business field for over 16 years and I am sooooo INSPIRED by your story, you and Param!!! Where exactly are you living at and could you send me your website and which scents do you have for sale? If you have customized some candles together, send me your list of which scents you made together and we can share our business tips together and be friends! Param INSPIRES me so much----watching the soy melt properly and he probably does it better than me---I just started with CW last summer and am still working it for the holidays now and this is my first Christmas holiday with the OpSoy candles I am making now. Op is for my well-behaved Chihuahua dog, who LOVES to visit anyone and to make new friends with anyone! So keep doing it, both men, and by the time Param is 21, you two will be rolling in God-blessed funds! Do write to me!!!! Luv Mar

Does anyone know how to buy some candles from Atman and Param? Are they on the downtown mall on a particular day of the week, or can I call them?

Internet search yielded nothing. Thanks!

Aum Amriteshwaryai Namah!

Aum Namah Shivaya!

I hope you have already found the way to contact Param and Atman, but if you haven't and want to buy some of their amazing candles then send and email to atman@kinex.net The candles are just amazing and beautiful and the scents are so perfect! They are not too much and just lovely when burning. Also, it is true, the soy wax burns sooooo much longer then paraffin! Please support them and buy buy buy!!!!

Love and Light,
in Amma's Service,
Gowrish

Hey Everyone,
Just wanted to reply to say thanks for your kind comments. We are done with the Mall for the rest of the winter, and may or may not continue in the warm weather... more likely will be the City Market on some Saturdays when it starts up in Spring, and I believe Whole Foods has some sort of Farmers' Market starting up again in the Springtime. In the meantime, I don't have a website yet, but if you email me at atman@kinex.net, I can forward you a Word Doc. page with the details of what we are currently making and selling.
Our wishes and prayers for Health, Prosperity, and Peace for one and all in the New Year!
Atman & Param

Mr.Johnson it is so good to see you & Param doing well. I would love to buy a candle from you guys. If you don't mind e-mail me the info I need to get buy one.