LIBERTY, Mo. — Locally owned Untamed Supply has taken off as a small local business in Kansas City, stretching beyond the boundaries of the metropolitan area.
The business' Outpost brick-and-mortar store debuted last November in Liberty.
"My wholesale business slowed down, pop-up events completely disappeared, so we just really needed a stream of income and Liberty’s been super supportive and Kansas City’s really showed up for us," owner EJ Wood said.
Wood also shows up every day to continue his craft, which is making scented candles from scratch, a skill he taught himself.
"I took about six months of just kind of researching and like trial and error and I came to a really good spot where everything worked really well," Wood said.
His candles also are sold at Made in KC and other local wholesalers, but it has a growing national footprint as well, turning a passion into a profitable business.
"It’s an affordable luxury, something that I've always just really enjoyed and it was just an easy step for me to learn about and be excited about it," Wood said.
His excitement professionally runs parallel to his personal journey.
Wood is transgender. He came out in January.
Two months ago, he had top surgery with emotional and financial support at his back.
"Being a small business owner, insurance is not something that's affordable for us at this point," Wood said. "And it's (top surgery) usually generally not covered yet, any kind of gender-affirming care. Within a month we raised over $10,000 for me to be able to have that surgery."
His transition brings a sense of comfort, but with it comes an uphill climb for himself and the transgender community.
"I am the happiest I've ever been and I want that for the next generation, but what's being put out there is the opposite of that," Wood said. "(It's) the opposite of acceptance, it's the opposite of tolerance. So, it's like how do you start to flourish in an environment that feels like you're being judged or controlled every, every, every time you turn around. You're having to fight for your own right to be who you are."
Untamed Supply celebrates Pride Month every day with Wood hoping to give light to those behind him this June and pave the way forward.
"It took me until I was well into my 30s to understand this about myself," Wood said, "so it's really powerful that we're sharing stories. For the younger generation, that they get to be who they are from the beginning."
Untamed Supply will be celebrating Pride Month outside their Liberty store and with pop-up events around the community.