Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Milwaukee woman's hobby turns into full-time business

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- What started as a hobby during the pandemic has become a full-time business for a Milwaukee woman. Jodyann Morgan is making candles in her basement studio that showcases all kinds of different bodies, and she's turning acceptance into art.

Each day starts the same way for Morgan.

First she melts the wax.

"And I put fragrance," she said as she carefully stirred the wax.

Then it's time to pour the candles.

"It's a lot of work," Morgan said. "It's a lot of 14-hour days."

Next, comes the tricky part.

"Hope for the best, expect the worst," she said nervously as she removed a candle from the mold.

"Success," she beamed with a huge smile on her face. 

For more than a year, she's been her own boss. Which is both exhilarating and...

"Terrifying," she said with a big laugh. "It's a lot of work!"

Morgan's working to perfect her process of making candles that are miniature sculptures. Once she decided to make her hobby a business. She needed a name.

"Maybe called enlightenment, or peace, tranquility," she said of some early ideas.

None of those seemed quite right. So, the company is called CTOAN. A name born out of indecision.

"We were in the car, I was like, I can't think of a name. So, we ended up using the acronym for it. C-T-O-A-N, CTOAN, can't think of a name," Morgan explained.

But the mission of the company has always been clear.

"It was important for me to showcase different types of bodies because representation matters," she said.

Each hand-painted candle...

"I'm not Picasso," she muttered as she painted. 

Represents different body types. They're gender neutral and trans-inclusive.

"It has side rolls and back rolls," said Morgan's wife, Chaya Milchtein.

Milchtein said the response to CTOAN's candles -- people seeing bodies that look like theirs-- has been overwhelming.

"If you can find this candle beautiful, then you can find yourself beautiful," Milchtein said.

She's been by Morgan's side every step of the way -- building CTOAN's website and helping with marketing.

"I would like to say I was extremely supportive, but it was like the 4th or 5th hobby she had tried out," she said with a laugh. "One day I came to her and I was like, babe, ah, so is this going to keep being a hobby or are you trying to start a business?

As the business grew -- so did the need for space.

They bought a house with a basement for Morgan's studio.

"Once she decided it was going to be a business, it was obvious that it was going to be very powerful," Milchtein said.

The feedback from customers, proving that it is.

"I actually go through all of the reviews that we get on the website. And sometimes it's so emotional what people are saying about how they find themselves in the art," Morgan said.

With the holidays approaching, Morgan is packing and shipping hundreds of candles.

Her studio smelling like peppermint, ginger and pine.

"It smells like a combination of scents," she said.

She's spreading the holiday cheer by giving $2 from each candle sold to the Hetrick Martin Institute in New York.

"That was definitely a safe haven for me as a teenager when I came out as gay," she said of the organization.

Giving back is built into the business. She's been doing it since it launched in November of last year.

"When she gets to make her $800 donation during pride month, that's a lot," Milchtein said with pride.

CTOAN -- a company dedicated to acceptance in all its forms.

"It's giving back to me, a warm feeling like I'm making an impact," Morgan said.

You can find CTOAN's candles at Plus Size Body Candles - Black & Queer Owned (ctoanco.com).

If you'd like to nominate an Everyday Hero, send Natalie a message at [email protected]

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