Nicki Straus, Wick + Bear - Camlachie, ON.
What is wick + bear?
Wick + bear is a one-woman owned small business that was born out of a new mom’s love for candles, and a concern for the quality and purity of the air in her home. Our mission is to offer clean burning, high quality and eco-conscious candles with uniquely delightful scents.
What inspired you to start a candle business?
I started wick + bear 6 months after my son Logan James was born. I've always had a love for home fragrance and aromatherapy. Candles are ritualistic for me. I love the ambiance and comfort found in burning candles wherever I spend my days; in my home office, kitchen, living room, dining room. At night I diffuse essential oils on my bedside table. While I was pregnant I started to wonder about what was in the candles I was burning. What was I putting into the air around my unborn babe and me? I asked about ingredients at the big chain store where I had always shopped. My question was met with confusion and a lack of knowledge that I found unsettling. From there, I purchased a book on beginner candle making, started sourcing natural supplies, and testing. Voila! wick + bear was born, named after our son who we call our Logie bear.
Who is one of your female role models and why?
My mom. Hands down. I’ve always known how incredible she is in her role as a mother and in business, but my admiration and respect for her went through the roof when I became a mother myself. She’s always held very senior positions in the telecommunications industry and has navigated that world (often in an ‘old boys club’ atmosphere) so well. Beyond that, she managed to run our household, make dinners, pack lunches for 3 kids, run us around to various activities, the works. I often feel overwhelmed with just one child and the help of a very supportive husband, so looking back I don’t know how she managed it all. We’re extremely close, and I can go to her for help and advice with anything, knowing that she’ll steer me in the right direction. If we lived in the same town she would for sure be the other face of wick + bear (mom please move to Sarnia!)
What is your favourite part of running your own business?
It can be really challenging running a business solo. Sometimes you feel isolated and that no one cares about it as much as you do; your failures are only on you. But the wonderful thing about it is that every little success, every sale, every compliment is all on you as well. It's SO rewarding, and such a confidence builder to know you can do it yourself.
What sets wick + bear products apart from mass produced candles?
I hand select every material that goes into the candle in your home. I make them myself, from scratch, with the utmost care about quality and purity. Most people don't realize that mass-produced candles contain petroleum byproducts, hormone mimickers, and lead or zinc. wick + bear candles don't contain any of that. You can enjoy the scent and the ambiance without the headaches.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I feel like there is very little that people don't know about me because I share EVERYTHING on my Insta stories. People would probably be surprised to know that I studied German for 4 years in University; all the way to advanced! My German grandmother (who we called Omi) had told me that if I studied it, she’d take me there. After that, I continued to my studies, and it’s become one of my favourite countries to visit.
What does Girl Gang mean to you?
The girl gang is so intertwined with wick + bear to me. I started my instagram page July 23rd and I remember getting an email from the girl gang about a week later asking if I was interested in joining. At that point I had made maybe 4 candles… I said yes of course, and it’s been the best decision I’ve made for my business. I’m not from Sarnia, and through the girl gang I’ve had the opportunity to meet some incredible women. We have such a talented city, and I’m constantly inspired by the women around me. The girl gang is a way to formalize that network and bring us all together on a consistent basis.
What are your goals for wick + bear in the next year?
I recently returned to work in the corporate world and so wick + bear has had to slow down. No more making candles while Logan naps, no more doing daytime deliveries to stores, the post office or customers’ homes. That being said, I can’t imagine my life without wick + bear, so it’s not going anywhere! A while back I asked my friend who is a successful lawyer, wife and mother of 2 how she does it. She told me “you will amaze yourself with how efficient you become.” That insight has stuck with me ever since. I’ve managed to keep it all in balance just by taking things one day at a time.
What should every woman try at least once in their life?
Taking on something that they’re not sure they can do. That may sound counterintuitive, but I really think you need to jump in head first and THEN figure out what you’re doing. I recently had the chance to see Jillian Harris speak at a conference and her advice was fake it till you make it. Apply for the job you think you’re too junior for. Sign up for the race that you can’t possibly imagine running. Start your business that you don’t think people will buy from. You are worthy. You can do ANYTHING. If it’s important to you, you’ll make time for it.
What is your favourite downtime activity?
I have so many!! Some of my favourites are sitting outside with a glass of wine at the end of the day, reading a good female-centric thriller with my bedside diffuser going, playing soccer, and of course… making candles!
WICK + BEAR