Bright Future: Nic Bianchi Pours His Heart into Candle-MakingFeb 25, 2021 10:57AM ● By Kara Schweiss
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Bianchi Candle Co. Founder and CEO Nic Bianchi runs a full-time business, and, like other entrepreneurs, he has to find a work/life balance. Unlike other entrepreneurs, he’s finishing his last semester of high school. Bianchi, now 18, started his hand-poured candle business when he was 12 years old.
Bianchi’s mom, Nicole, said she and husband Dave saw a glimpse of the entrepreneur their son would become when he designed a business logo at age 7.
“He created this out of construction paper. He pasted it on the outside of his bedroom door as if this were going to be his upcoming business,” she said. “For his 12th birthday, I had a graphic designer turn it into an actual logo.”
Bianchi had already launched his first retail venture, selling trinkets and toys to his elementary-school classmates at recess. He presented a seed investment proposal to his folks, put together a catalog (“with a logo, of course,” his mother said) and hired a couple of classmates as sales representatives.
The endeavor didn’t integrate his skills as craftsman, though, so Bianchi tried his hand at woodworking and leather goods before finding his niche in hand-poured, all-natural soy wax and soy wax-blend candles. Candlemaking plays to his natural aptitudes, he said.
“There’s a lot of math and science that goes into candles, shockingly, from the ratios for the scent to wax, to what kind of wick burns all around the radius of it, to how hot will the candle get before the jar cracks or bursts, to the chemical makeup of the label to make sure it won’t catch fire or burn,” he said. “There’s a lot of these little details that customers will never know in their daily lives but as a manufacturer it’s very smart to add those things in as little details to make your candle that much more special.”
“He nitpicks—‘Nic-picks’—about the little details,” Blue Pomegranate Gallery owner Sondra Gerber said. She met Bianchi and his mother at craft fair-type events where Bianchi was selling his candles and was impressed at his polished communication skills and product knowledge. She was surprised to discover that he was 15 years old at the time. “He knocked my socks off.”
At his first craft fair he sold 165 candles in one day.
“I’m impressed with his creativity and his eye for detail and how he’s always moving and creating and problem-solving,” she said.
Gerber also said she’s enjoyed watching Bianchi’s business, which has moved from the family garage to manufacturing space with several employees in downtown Papillion, evolve and grow. “He has so much room for expansion for this.”
The company’s candles are available for sale on his company website and at nearly 20 locations, from Omaha-area Hy-Vees to a store in Pitkin, Colorado. In 2017, Bianchi introduced a line of candles with themes such as bravery, gratitude, and perseverance that now also includes a “hero” series paying tribute to health care workers, first responders, and members of the military. Bianchi, whose father is a detective with the Omaha Police Department, also created a “Kerrie-On” candle in 2015 for the late OPD officer Kerrie Orozco. Sales of that candle exceeded $1,000, with Bianchi selling 125 candles in about 12 hours.
“The ‘Yes You Candle’ line stands for the stance to inspire in yourself and others around you,” he said, adding that the hero candles support corresponding nonprofits.
Bianchi Candle Co. candles are made without dyes, so they are all white. The family name not only fittingly means “white,” Bianchi said, it also connects to generations of artisans in Grondola, Italy.
“We learned a lot about the heritage of our direct family,” Bianchi said. “It’s a big artisanship family and everything they do is by hand.”
Running a full-time business as a teenager hasn’t been without its sacrifices, Bianchi said. He has given up sports (in junior high he played basketball and competed in track and field) and other extracurricular activities at Papillion-La Vista South. He also had some naysayers at the beginning.
“If people are going to tell you, ‘you can’t do it,’ that should inspire you to do it that much more,” he said. “Entrepreneurs need to know they need to keep getting back up no matter what people say.”
Being a business owner has allowed him to meet interesting people, see new places, and learn useful things, Bianchi emphasized. “This is what I want to do, and this is a choice. It’s not taking away from [typical teenage] activities but replacing them.”
“We never pushed him,” Nicole said. “Nic drives it, and we weigh in and sprinkle in our perspective and try to help guide along the way.”
Bianchi is still working out the details of his post-graduation life.
“Right now, my main idea is to keep the company going, hopefully make it big enough to step back and have someone else run the day-to-day,” he said. “I really want to open up other companies and a nonprofit to help bring environmental awareness to a lot of people.”
“I don’t think he’s going to run a candle business for the rest of his life. This is a stepping stone to something much greater,” Bianchi agreed. “I see him building businesses and simultaneously building a foundation that will somehow benefit the world…I think he’s destined for great things and I can’t wait to watch his future unfold.”
Visit bianchicandleco.com for more information.
This article was printed in the March/April 2021 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.