Open Series

Open: CandleTherapy

This week, we spoke with Rachel Nelson, founder of CandleTherapy for our Open series; highlighting LGBT+ businesses and founders. 

Want to feature your LGBT+ business or know of one you think should be featured? Email us at

Tell us a little about your business? What steps led you to where you are now?

I make 100% plant-based clean candles in San Francisco. CandleTherapy candles are made with zero toxins and zero synthetic fragrances, and instead are scented with pure, organic essential oils – the aromatherapy has healing benefits for mind, body, and spirit.

I’ve had chronic illness for 11 years, and was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease two years ago. Through seeing various doctors and alternative healers, I learned about clean living and wellness early on, as well as the healing benefits of essential oils. I actually started CandleTherapy during quarantine while I was finishing up a 5 month long at-home IV antibiotic treatment.
The average candle comes with many harsh toxins, from the wax, to the synthetic fragrances used, and even the wick! I used candles a lot during meditation or to just set a zen atmosphere in my home, but it was hard to find candles where I could trust the ingredients. Having chronic illness, I try to limit the amount of toxins that are in my home, plus the synthetic fragrances used in standard candles were just too overwhelming. So I started making candles for myself, friends, and family, and the business grew from there!

I truly have chronic illness to thank for this small business. That is my silver lining. Before going on medical leave two years ago, I was in a high-stress corporate banking job at a big bank. My priority was work, and health came second, and the culture at my job rewarded that. However, it was making me sicker and sicker. My body checked out before I was able to mentally. I finally decided I had to go on medical leave to heal, and medical leave ended up being my greatest gift. I was able to step out of the toxic environment I was in, and work on myself emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I started meditating regularly and working with a life-coach, which opened me up to healing past traumas, and the mind-body connection. The creativity I had been pushing to the side all these years finally surfaced during quarantine when I started feeling a little bit better towards the end of my IV treatment, and decided to try making a clean candle for my home. I now have a creative outlet, an at-home job that makes me happy, and I get to bring a little piece of Zen into peoples homes.

Is community important to you? How has the LGBT+ community impacted your business? 

Community is extremely important to me. Without my community, I wouldn’t have started this business. I originally was just gifting quarantine candles to friends and family to lift their spirits during the COVID shutdown. My community told me to start selling the candles, and my community showed up once I did!

The LGBTQ+ community has showed up in particular. I’ve made so many friends during this short time I’ve been in business in the community because queer people want to support queer people. For instance, my first retail location is a lesbian owned business. When I approached them to sell my candles in their store, I didn’t know what I was doing! They helped me and guided me through the process and I am now selling candles at Crystal Way in San Francisco.

Do you feel that being an LGBT+ founder has had an impact on your journey? What challenges and benefits have you experienced?

I definitely think being an LGBTQ+ founder has impacted my journey. As we all know, it’s a double-edged sword. Now more than ever, people who care about diversity want to support small, diverse businesses – whether its womxn, BIPOC, queer/trans, disability owned, etc. That has helped a lot because not only am I a queer-owned business, but I am also a woman-owned and disability-owned business. With a more conscious culture, people like to know the people they are supporting and their stories. And those people who care, and value diversity, will go out of their way to support you and lift you up, and help spread the word. Just like how Daylight is now!

At the same time, there are still people out there that not only don’t value that, but are ignorant and hateful. I’ve noticed I lose followers when I post politically about social justice issues, especially those that impact the LGBTQ+ community. I don’t mind because I don’t want those people in my network anyway – that’s not a lost sale to me, it actually saves me some hard work and time that I wouldn’t want to spend on someone who’s beliefs don’t align with my existence. I’m only just beginning to grow my instagram following, and I still have received hateful comments on pictures of me and my fiancée kissing, for instance. I know LGBTQ+ brands and influencers with even more of a following receive much worse. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory, but I don’t let it bother me – I just report the comment, block the person, and move on. Overall, the benefits of being an LGBTQ+ founder far outweigh the challenges, because this community is LOUD and PROUD and the future is just getting browner, gayer, and more gender fluid so you better get on board!

What are you excited about for the future?

Wow, I’m so glad I’m answering this question after the election. I was worried there for a sec (aka 4 years). I am so hopeful now for our future – but we still have a lot of work to do. On a big scale… I am excited for criminal justice reform, I am excited for trans rights, I am excited for gay rights, I am excited to combat climate change, I am excited for love over hate. I’m excited for diversity in the highest offices of the land.

I’m excited to marry my fiancée in July of next year. We were supposed to get married this year, but COVID had other plans…

I’m excited to keep growing my business and meeting amazing people along the way. If you would have told me two years ago that I would be running a small batch candle business today… I would have laughed! So really I’m excited to keep surprising myself with what comes next. I’m excited to look back on this, two years from now.

Open Series

Open: Alder New York

This week, we spoke with David J. Krause, co-founder of Alder New York for our Open series; highlighting LGBT+ businesses and founders. 

Want to feature your LGBT+ business or know of one you think should be featured? Email us at

Tell us a little about your business? What steps led you to where you are now?

Alder New York is a queer and woman-own independent skincare brand that makes products designed to work for all skin types, no matter your age, gender, or ethnicity. Our collection of skincare essentials combines derm-approved actives with plant-powered ingredients to leave skin looking healthy and clear.

My business partner, Nina Zilka, and I started Alder New York because we couldn’t find a genderless line of skincare products that featured clean and vegan ingredients as well as appealed to our minimalist, genderless design sensibilities.

Is community important to you? How has the LGBT+ community impacted your business? 

Community is everything. While Alder New York was founded with a personal need in mind, it has been our customers and fans that really keep us going. Hearing that our products make someone feel great and feel seen is what drives us. I credit Alder New York’s success to the LGBTQ+ community and our allies. We designed a line of products with gender inclusivity in mind and have opted out of conventional gendered marketing which has really appealed to the community.

Do you feel that being an LGBT+ founder has had an impact on your journey? What challenges and benefits have you experienced?

As a queer man it can definitely be challenging in the skincare/ beauty space. So much of our industry is seen through a binary lens of male and female. Alder New York is constantly fighting to reshape this idea. It can be really challenging when many retailers still see products as for  men or for women.

What are you excited about for the future?

I’m excited for retailers and the industry as a whole to start questioning why we have men’s and women’s sections in stores. It’s a conversation we’re having often with national chain stores to small boutiques and it feels like change is coming.

I’m also really excited for Alder New York to break out into new categories-  to bring our clean, vegan, and inclusive ethos to all parts of your life.

Daylight News

A Brighter Future Ahead

We’re really excited to launch the Daylight brand today. 

You’re probably wondering “why LGBT+ banking”? Well that’s a great place to start. We’ve spent thousands of hours spending time getting to know the unique needs of the LGBT+ community and here’s what we’ve learned: 

LGBT+ people aren’t preparing for their futures fast enough. 

This was perhaps as much of a shock to us as it might seem to you. So here’s what that means.

It costs more to be LGBT+ 

Just being LGBT+ sets us off on the back foot. According to the WNYC queer money study in 2019, LGBT+ people are 40% less likely to receive financial support for college once they come out to their families. As a result, it is estimated that LGBT+ people have on average 50% more college debt than non-LGBT+ people. 

Our trans siblings have huge bills for transition support which varies widely but can exceed $100,000 at a time when we’re least prepared to have that much money available. This means credit card debt, high interest rates and poor FICO scores. 

So the moment we decide to be ourselves, the system is stacked against us. 

We struggle to play catch up (unless we’re really privileged)

The next thing we learned is that we struggle to play catch up. Not only are we ignored by the banking system (except at Pride), we have 25% lower financial education and half of us do not maintain a regular savings habit. This makes sense – many of us have rocky relationships with our parents and we’re probably not learning great financial discipline from our families. And while we feel shame about ourselves and our money, we’re not learning as much from each other as we could.  

Traditional banks are busy putting rainbows on things while giving us lower mortgage and loan approval rates. This is not cool. And while the laws have changed, we still face continued employment discrimination, especially if we present in a queer way. So we start off further behind and even when we’re doing our best we struggle to get on the front foot.

This affects us later in life

Over time, this adds up. These issues have a cumulative effect on LGBT+ wealth creation. Half of older LGBT+ people worry about having sufficient funds for their retirement – this is 40% higher than non-LGBT. 

When we ask people “where do you want to retire?” the answers almost universally include the words “where other LGBT+ people are”. The thing is, queer villages are often more expensive, meaning that we’re going to have to work pretty hard to be able to retire in safety, peace and community. 

We’ve spent so much time surviving our childhoods and early adulthood that we’ve not laid the foundations for a retirement we deserve. 

Enter Daylight – shining a light on LGBT+ finances

We are the first generation of LGBT+ people who can live openly. We are everywhere the light shines, and it’s time for us to take the next steps in equality for our community, focusing on the wealth gap between us and the wider world. We’ve created Daylight for this purpose. 

Daylight is the first and only digital banking platform for LGBT+ in the US. It’s designed by a team of queer millennials solving problems for queer millennials. We’re solving problems that we’ve experienced first-hand and in doing so aim to solve these for the community at large. 

It’s our job to shine a light on LGBT+ money matters – starting with educating our community on all of the ways that the system is stacked against us and laying the foundations for great financial habits, making it easier for us to access fair financial products and working together to build the futures we deserve. 

We chose the name Daylight as a statement of intent. We are a community full of promise, ambition and dreams. We are unapologetic about our queerness and it’s time to take the next step in economic freedom for our community, with brightness, optimism and hope. 

Join us and let’s build fulfilling futures… together.


5 Things to Boost your Financial Situation Right Now

Do you not love your financial situation right now? Do you wish you could snap your fingers and improve it?

While we don’t have a magic wand to make things happen, we do have 5 simple ways you can turn things around quickly.

With these five tips, you’ll see the light at the tunnel a lot faster than you thought possible, whether that means getting out of debt, increasing your savings, or funneling your money to other financial milestones in your life.

1. Get rid of unneeded expenses

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Go through your bank statement (credit card statements too) and notice where you spend. Chances are you have memberships, subscriptions, and other recurring expenses you don’t need.

Cancel them. You may save yourself around $100 a month with this simple tip if you’re the membership/subscription loving type.

2. Save only in high interest accounts

APYs at your local bank are laughable. Don’t waste your time. Look online and you’ll see much higher APYs available, many with no minimum balance required. Online high-yield savings accounts are more common today as more banks jump on board.

Stick to the online-only banks because they offer the best interest rates thanks to their lack of overhead.

3. Automate your payments (and savings)

We all get busy and caught up in the craziness of life. Bills slip past us or we forget to transfer money to savings. We are only human.

Avoid this by setting up automatic bill payment and savings transfers. You’ll avoid late payments, unnecessary interest, and grow your savings account faster.

4. Check your credit report

Everyone has free access to all three credit reports annually. TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian all post different information (some may overlap). Pull each credit report at least once a year and go over it.

Look for errors, large and small. Check account balances, payment history, and even if the accounts belong to you. Mistakes happen all the time. If you don’t catch them, they could hurt your credit score quite a bit.

If you’ve changed your name or gender marker recently, make sure you’ve updated all three credit bureaus with those changes, otherwise you may end up with a partial score and history.

5. Use a rewards credit card

It seems odd to recommend using a credit card, but only do this if you will pay the balance off in full each month.

If you charge only what you’d normally buy and can pay for in cash, apply for a rewards credit card. Choose one that offers rewards you’ll use (i.e., cashback rewards, Amazon gift cards, travel rewards, etc.)

Make your regular purchases and expenditures and get rewarded for doing it!

Take Control of your Finances Today

Taking control of your finances won’t happen overnight, but with these five small changes, you’ll set the wheel in motion. Use the motivation they create to keep going – making other important changes in your financial life until you feel financially secure by having your debts under control, your savings account growing, and a plan set to reach your financial milestone goals, both short and long-term.