GUILFORD — It started as a way to beat COVID-19 quarantine boredom. Now, Nick Vigliotti’s soy candles are so popular he has an online Etsy shop and shelf space at two local businesses.
“I was bored during quarantine because we couldn’t do anything and we were stuck at home, so I thought we could make candles,” the 9-year-old says, standing in the family kitchen, which is transformed into the workshop for Nick’s Wick.
This budding entrepreneur is donating 30 percent of his earnings to charity.
For July, his charity of choice is Murphy’s Paw Rescue, owned by his aunt, Branford resident Nicole Gallagher. The foster-based organization saves dogs from abusive situations.
Every Nick’s Wicks candle has a photo of Nick and his 13-year-old rescue dog, Alex, on it. Every month, when a new charity is chosen, the photo will be updated.
For his portion of the earnings, the Calvin Leete Elementary School fourth-grader has lots of ideas on how to spend the money, including buying a cat and a dirt bike.
His mother and personal assistant in the project says the idea came after a purchase of a scented candle.
“He said, ‘these smell good,’ ” recalls his mother, Kimberly Olstein-Vigliotti. “So, we decided to try it ourselves.”
Nick says he is his mother’s boss in the venture.
“I can demote her and promote her,” he says, as he looks up at her, laughing.
He also has assistance from his brothers, James, 11, and Christopher, 6, in addition to his father, Dan Vigliotti.
Nick’s Wicks offers some 21 different scented candles, including Citronella, Clean Cotton, Fruity Loops, Honeysuckle, Lemonade Stand and Monkey Farts, which is a combination of banana, mango and vanilla.
Nick’s favorite is Summer Flowers.
“I just like it a lot, the smell,” he says, standing in his kitchen preparing to start a new batch of candles.
Kristen Carboni says she purchased Lemonade Stand to enjoy herself, but had to buy Monkey Farts for her 9-year-old son.
“I figured I had to get one that’s a normal smell, with one that’s not a normal smell,” the Guilford resident says. “It doesn’t smell bad at all. It kind of smells like a Skittles, it has like a candy smell to it. It really actually smells completely different than what the name makes you think it smells like.”
The family kitchen is converted into Nick’s Wicks’ workshop, with a professional-grade wax melter on the kitchen table, surrounded by jars, tins, wicks and various scented oils. The scale, to measure the scented oils, sits on the kitchen island.
The wax melter is an upgrade from the early days of melting the soy wax on the stovetop.
“I didn’t want him to do much pouring, because it was dangerous,” his mother says. “I didn’t want him to pour wax all over the place or on himself.”
The multi-step process is precise and includes placing the wick in the jar; measuring the exact amount of scented oil, which is different for each size candle; filling the container with wax and waiting. It can take from an hour to 24 hours for the wax to completely set.
Nick’s Wicks pays attention to detail. If the top of the candle has any imperfections, a hot tool is used to re-melt the wax to smooth it.
To date, about two months into his business, Nick estimates he has made about 60 candles. They are available in four ounces for $6, eight ounces for $10 and 16 ounces for $20.
Nick enjoys toiling in his workshop, in between playing golf and baseball, and riding bikes with his brothers.
“It’s just fun,” he says. “I just like doing it.”
Alisha Rayner, owner of The Marketplace at the Guilford Food Center, was happy to offer Nick’s Wicks’ candles in her shop.
“I think it’s really great, as we’ve seen through COVID, to be able to support other local businesses,” she says. “I think this is a great way for us to support local kids and local child entrepreneurs, because that’s really what he is. It’s super cool.”
In addition, Ella Where She Shops store, in Guilford, is also carrying the product and Nick sells them via his Etsy shop, nickswicks2020.
“I’m pretty excited,” says the 9-year-old candle tycoon.
What does he think his friends will say when they hear about his success?
“‘Nick, you’re famous,’” he says.