Margaret Pappas and her eight-year-old son Dylan (Kostantinos) are business partners.
At the beginning of 2020 Ms Pappas launched Anesti Home to help raise funds to support young Dylan who has autism.
Their story starts long before the wax began pouring, as Ms Pappas worked to find herself again after a difficult marriage and becoming a single mum in 2015.
“When I was married, my ex-husband was very absent…In the past when I was married I was heavily medicated, I was a very depressed person and suffered with anxiety. There’s that saying that says it has a lot to do with your environment that can be toxic, when he left the family I came off all my medication,” she explained.
“It was like I was reborn in a way, I was given such a strength to say ‘you’ll be okay’. All I had at the time were my two little babies and this feeling inside me.”
This was the fresh start that Ms Pappas needed, but was only the tip of the iceberg when coming up against life’s challenges.
Dylan was diagnosed with autism a little later than most young boys do, which left Ms Pappas playing a game of catch up to get her son the support he needed to bring back some much needed balance in his life.
“Before then [the diagnosis] everything was a battle. Even just getting him support at school, again the signs were there and they knew verbally, but he was being treated like a normal student and was coming home every night crying saying ‘I hate school mummy, it’s too hard, I can’t do it’. He lost a lot of confidence,” Ms Pappas said.
“Once we had the assessment, everything made sense. We needed to change the way we approached him and tailor our lives to make his life more comfortable and more harmonious.”
Ms Pappas left her job to be able to fully support Dylan, who required a little extra special attention especially during COVID lockdowns.
The expenses for psychology sessions and speech pathology were getting to be quite costly and so Ms Pappas began selling the candles she had been making as an escape from the stresses of life.
“As a hobby and for some sanity I started making candles. I sold them to family and friends to help pay my son’s medical bills which are quite expensive as he sees a psychologist and speech pathologist. When we are financially able we’d like to get him into occupational therapy, a feeding therapist and a social skills group to assist him,” she said.
Dylan took a keen interest late last year in his mum’s candle making and would find great peace joining in and enjoying some “mummy-Dylan time” together.
The youngster also helped pick out fragrances ‘Port Douglas’, ‘Mount Athos’ and ‘Gratitude’ to name a few.
“The fragrances I was buying off the shelf made him feel ill, so I went to the trouble and met with a perfumer and Dylan selected 10 scents that didn’t make him feel sick. His choices are just lovely,” Ms Pappas said.
When it comes to autism, not all people are the same. The ‘spectrum’ notes particular sensory challenges that someone living with autism may face, often meaning their responses to smell, taste, touch, sound and sight can be very sensitive.
In Dylan’s case, his sensory response to food can be particular, meaning on most days he eats the same foods everyday. He also finds writing difficult along with speech.
Despite some of the obstacles that he faces, Dylan’s creativity shines through. Aside from helping his mum pick and pour the candles, Dylan also designed the packaging.
“Dylan loves to paint. Whilst he was painting I asked him to paint something that describes his feelings when he makes candles with mummy. That’s when he drew the rainbow and the little dog. He’s also drawn the little crocodile that reminded him of our trip to Port Douglas where we saw the crocodile show, everything’s got a symbolic meaning,” Ms Pappas said.
Ms Pappas also makes crosses, honouring her Greek Orthodox faith and sharing the message of hope.
Ten percent of all the profits made by Anesti Home products are donated to various autism and mental health charities as Ms Pappas’ way of giving back to the community.
“I just want to create some more awareness around autism…there’s also the judgement as well that I’ve copped as a mum because people don’t understand,” she said.
You can find the full range of candles, crosses and other Anesti Home products at www.anestihome.com.au