Phala Pesano, owner of local candle company Seventh Avenue Apothecary and Valrico resident, recently partnered with The Girls Empowered Mentally for Success organization, or “GEMS,” to create Transitions Candles.

The Girls Empowered Mentally for Success organization (GEMS), has a mission is to engage elementary, middle and high school girls, empowering them to discover their passion and purpose through creativity and wisdom.

Phala Pesano, owner of local candle company Seventh Avenue Apothecary and Valrico resident, recently partnered with the GEMS to create Transitions Candles. “The director, Crystal Bailes, reached out to us and told me that she was looking for a company to work with her program,” Pesano said. “I could not resist. It is such a great cause and right down my alley working with teens.”

Transitions Candles is the social enterprise of GEMS that provides another means for a healthy transition for a GEMS girl. “The girls came into our shop and the first step was to sit down and talk about business principals, the value of being an entrepreneur, the perks and the challenges of owning your own business as well as the core values you must establish,” Pesano said. “We go into the how and whats of choosing a product and how to establish everything from bookkeeping to manufacturing to ordering supplies, etc. Then the process of how to choose a scent, packaging, labeling, ordering supplies. Along the way we emphasize the importance of quality control and work ethics.”

Pesano and her staff made sure the GEMS were introduced to all aspects of the candle business in addition to the manufacturing process from preparing the candle vessel, cleaning and labeling, then packaging and selling.

Pesano hopes other local businesses will get involved with the GEMS or other local youth programs. “I would love to see more businesses get involved directly with programs that support youth in our community in a way that helps kids succeed,” Pesano said. “Being a mentor to these young people is just as rewarding for our business as it is for the kids. Tampa has several great programs for young people but they need community support both financial but also by giving your time for the kids.”

Visit it website at If you would like to purchase a Transitions Candle, you can visit the candle website at or call Pesano at 247-3814. Seventh Avenue Apothecary is located at 3810 E. 7th Ave. in Tampa.

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.