Tigist's Story: A Case Study

If you’ve been following along with us, you know that recently we spent some time in Ethiopia working with Eleventh Candle Company. We shot a video about a local Ethiopian laundress who had used a microloan from Eleventh Candle Company to purchase a water tap in her home that had revolutionized her laundry business, her life, and the lives of her family members. While this video was unlike most of the videos we shoot, we were still blessed by the opportunity and amazed by the final product. Why? Because a good video is made great by the story it tells. And here is how we told Tigist’s story:

  1. Character- We met Tigist by happenstance on our second trip to Ethiopia and were immediately enamored with her story. This woman, who ran her own business going house to house washing people’s clothes, was empowered with a microloan from Eleventh Candle Company to purchase a water tap within her own home so that people could bring their laundry to her. Her determination and will to succeed were two things that we admired in her. We wanted to show how strong she was and give the audience an avatar to view the story through. Tigist is an inspiration. By focusing on just one character, the video becomes more moving and powerful. Tigist has been able to take very little and turn it into a lot. We wanted the audience to identify with her ambition and see how much she had overcome by using her resources wisely.

  2. Emotion- One thing that we did not want to do with this video was play on the poverty of the people of Ethiopia. It was important to us to show Tigist’s story as one of empowerment and triumph, not a story to invoke pity. Tigist helped us do this by being the kind of person that you want to root for. We also were able to show her day to day life in detail, which allows the viewer to be transported to Ethiopia for a few minutes. By showing the emotional side of what Eleventh Candle Company does with the money they make from selling candles, it makes the viewer feel inspired to purchase candles from Eleventh Candle Company and support women like Tigist.

  3. Location- Shooting this video was wildly different than any shoot that we do here in the states. We had limited equipment, no lighting materials, a translator that was not fluent in English, and a host of other limitations and concerns. While it may have been easier to interview Eleventh Candle Company staff here in the US in well lit studio spaces, we wanted people to be able to see and experience who, what, and where they are supporting when they purchase a candle. This means that we made the best of our location. Tigist did not have electricity. We used natural light, window shots, some of our more convenient handheld cameras and captured what everyday is like for Tigist and her family. This way the viewer is truly allowed to experience a day in her life.  

  4. Purpose- Just because our resources were limited does not mean that we didn’t put just as much thought into every detail of this video. We even recorded some of the voiceover in the back of an Ethiopian restaurant because our waitress spoke better English than the translator who was traveling with us. We were challenged and did not have our normal amount of flexibility or equipment. We had to use what was available to us, which gave the video a more holistic feel. Ethiopia is truly represented in its entirety, as are Tigist and her family.


There are hundreds of candle companies out there. We hope that Tigist’s story and the good work being done by our friends at Eleventh Candle Company will inspire you to support them this holiday season. Shooting this video with them was a fun, moving, and inspiring experience that we would not trade for the world.


For more on the behind the scenes making of this video, watch here: