Portrait of Veda Campbell

Name: Veda Campbell
Hometown: Prescott 
Major: Graphic design
Position: Owner of Blooming Brightly handmade candle business

An internship during Veda Campbell’s freshman year turned into a three-year job as a graphic designer at a Minneapolis nonprofit that provides opportunities to people with employment barriers. 

But Campbell, of Prescott, won’t be doing that job after she graduates May 6 from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Instead, she will work with her mother as part of the Blooming Brightly handmade candle business the duo launched last Mother’s Day. 

“I never thought I would be doing this. Making candles was something I never really even had an interest in,” Campbell said of Blooming Brightly. “But this allows me to make sure I stay creative. That’s why I love having my own business, because I have my hands in everything we make.”

Campbell’s seemingly unlikely journey to owning her own candle making business started with an internship during her freshman year at UWRF. She was a marketing major and landed an internship with AccessAbility, Inc. in Minneapolis. When the internship ended, the nonprofit asked Campbell to work as a graphic artist. 

Campbell had an affinity for graphic art, and she accepted the job. She changed her major to graphic design, an area she said was a better fit for her than marketing. 

“I’ve always had a creative side, and graphic design was something I enjoy more than marketing,” she said. “The marketing side of things, while it was helpful, was not really where I wanted to be.”

As part of her job at AccessAbility, Inc., Campbell did product design. She had never done that kind of work, she said, and it stretched her in new ways. Although she didn’t know it at the time, that effort developed expertise she would use in her candle making business. 

“I had never experienced creating a real life product that other people would have in their homes, “she said. “(That experience) really gave me the tools to think ‘How will other people experience my product? What will the packaging design look like?’ It really just jumpstarted my career doing that.”

She also credits that experience with helping her succeed in the classroom. 

“Having an internship that early in my time at UWRF accelerated my learning,” she said. “Because I was working in a business setting, I had more knowledge about what I was doing in class.” 

Campbell praised UWRF Graphic Design Program Director Dan Paulus for his mentorship.

“He pushes you to get outside of our comfort zone and try new things,” she said. 

When Campbell had a dream about making candles with her mom and turning the endeavor into a business, it certainly marked a new thing for her. The duo spent a year brainstorming how to best produce candles and how to make them marketable. Their candles are made from environmentally friendly ingredients and allow customers to reuse their candle jars.

Instead of throwing jars away, customers receive plantable seed paper with each candle. When candles are burned up, they are replaced with seed paper that contains seeds of 20 wildflower varieties. After the seeds are watered, the jars become home to growing wildflowers. 

“We just wanted to take it that extra step, to have it be two gifts in one: a candle and a planter,” Campbell said. “We want to be sustainable with our business and also create something that makes us different.”

As Campbell prepares to graduate from UWRF, she is thankful for a job she never could have envisioned when she started school, a job that allows her to spend more time with her mom. Her candle-making business recently received media attention in the Twin Cities, and she envisions it growing and extending beyond the local community. 

“I always envisioned myself having my own business,” Campbell said. “So having it now makes total sense to me. Where I am now is where I always hoped I would be.”