Thanks to a high school class Nikki Rosati has started a business creating candles to help people and charitable organizations.
The Perry High School senior launched Candles for a Cause through the UDesign It class, a semester-long course that requires each student to come up with a type of question they want to answer, or problem they want to solve, through a project spanning the entire semester.
UDesign It teacher Rachele Mielke said Nikki taught herself to make aromatherapy candles, which she’s poured and sold through the business she simultaneously established.
“She came up with this idea from a need to create something to reduce people’s stress and anxiety and uses natural scents that help to evoke a feeling of calm,” Mielke said.
In addition, Nikki donates 50 percent of sales proceeds from Candles for a Cause to a different charity each month. In December, she chose Toys for Tots to receive the monthly contribution.
Nikki said her mother taught her how to create candles, prior to the UDesign It class.
“So I started doing it after she showed me how, and I just really liked the process of making candles,” Nikki said.
However, Nikki didn’t come into the UDesign It course with her mind set on doing a project involving candles.
“In this class, we kind of test out everything and experiment with a lot of things before we get started and know what our main focus is,” she said.
Nikki considered projects on topics ranging from childcare to tennis, but she eventually settled on the candlemaking endeavor.
“(Producing aromatherapy candles) is just super interesting to me, and once I realized that people actually liked what I was making, it made it so much more fun for me to do,” she said.
Nikki promotes her products mainly through an Instagram account: instagram.com/candlesforacause__ (double underscore at the end). She also publicized Candles for a Cause through her personal Facebook page.
“Within the first day I posted, I had multiple people who were interested in buying candles,” Nikki said.
Most of Candles for a Cause’s customers live in Lake County or other nearby parts of Northeast Ohio. But Nikki said she’s trying to expand the geographic market for her products.
“That’s definitely a goal for me,” she noted.
Candles produced by Nikki feature scents such as eucalyptus, sugar cookie, pumpkin cheesecake and apple cinnamon.
Along with offering an assortment of fragrances, Nikki chooses a variety of containers for her aromatherapy candles. Some of those holders include coffee mugs, pitchers and jars of various textures and sizes.
“One of my favorite things to do is go jar hunting,” Nikki said. “You go to places like Marc’s or Dollar Tree, and you just raid the aisles with your shopping cart and look for jars.”
Throughout the first semester, which ended on Dec. 21, Nikki has been making her candles at a workstation set up in Mielke’s classroom. On average, she produced at least 50 candles a week.
To create the candles, Nikki uses a countertop roaster oven to melt down soy wax. She then hot-glues wicks to the bottom of the jars or other holders.
Once the wax is fully melted and at a certain temperature, Nikki adds the particular colors and scents.
“Then I pour the liquid in the jar (or other container) and it sets,” she said.
It usually takes about two hours for the candles to fully solidify in their holders.
Although the UDesign It course has drawn to a close for Nikki, she intended to take all of her supplies home and continue making aromatherapy candles.
In January, she’s already decided to donate half of her sales proceeds to Sub Zero Mission. The Lake County-based group provides warming items to the homeless and connects homeless veterans with resources available to them.
Nikki, who lives in Montville Township, said the early success of Candles for a Cause exceeded her expectations. She said it was encouraging to receive repeat business from some of the customers.
“I never knew people would be interested in buying what I made, and come back for more, too,” she said.
As for the future, Nikki said she intends to attend college and pursue a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. She hasn’t chosen a particular school yet, but wherever she attends, she hopes to play tennis, a sport in which she participated at Perry High School.
Although her primary career goal is to become teacher, Nikki said she might continue Candles for a Cause as a sideline occupation.
“I’d really like to keep working at it, because it makes me happy that I’m donating money to other charities, and just giving back,” she said.
Mielke said Nikki performed impressively as a member of the UDesign It class.
“She is one of those students who really took charge of her learning,” Mielke said. “I haven’t really done anything for her. There are students that I’ll help them find resources and things, and walk through a lot of this stuff with them, but Nikki has truly done it all.”