After going out in search of some holiday gifts one year, Cinnaminson resident Kara Prevost discovered she had a fervor for wax and set up Wicked Wick Brews Candle Company.
“The first ones I made smelled like pine. Perfect for the wintertime. I put personalized messages on them and wrapped them in ribbons,” recalls Prevost, 35, who was a stay-at-home mom when she came across an online site explaining candlemaking. “And everyone said, ‘Kara, these are really nice. You’ve found your niche.’”
That was in 2011.
Stimulated with confidence, Prevost bought some do-it-yourself candlemaking kits from hobby stores and began selling the finished crafts at events to raise funds for the Burlington County K-9 Search and Rescue, an independent group that dispatches dogs to assist in the recovery of missing people. Prevost and her two German shepherds were members for two years.
Plagued by family health problems shortly therafter—her father and father-in-law both underwent open heart surgery—Prevost stepped down from the organization. But now, fueled with the entrepreneurial flame, she's embarked on a quest to make the best candles.
“After my kids would go to school, I would spend hours searching online ways to make really interesting candles,” says the married mother of 10-year-old Tommy and daughter, Hope, 5. “Some were horrible at first. But I stayed with it until I got it right.”
She researched the ill effects of using wax laced with chemicals and petroleums, which is common in many candles, and sought more health-friendly options.
“I knew that I wanted to make candles that were organic and soy-based. I also was going to buy everything I could from the United States, like my glassware and mugs,” says Prevost. Her wicks are made from cotton or wood.
Thinking most people would like candles with a theme, Prevost started experimenting with beer candles set in Eagles, Phillies and Flyers pub glasses. Cosmopolitan martinis—"My tribute to Sex and The City"— and margaritas came next.
As her technique improved, Prevost added candles that replicated a cup of hot chocolate, a piña colada goblet and a milkshake.
"Visually, it was important to me that my candles looked real," she said. "For instance, my pie candles, really look like a pie with fruit on top."
Baby shower, bridal souvenirs and 50th birthday party candles, or any other milestone, can be specially requested. She also has an aromatherapy line with fresh-smelling botanical scents.
Prevost can permanently inscribe personal messages on any container of some of the 200 candles she makes monthly. She has also begun making scented soaps.
She has an arrangement with a studio in Pennsauken, where she designs her merchandise, but she still makes a lot of it at home as well.
To peddle her creations, Prevost has been marketing them at craft fairs and shows regionally. She also sells them at area stores like Cinnaminson’s The Wine Cellar and Haines Gift and Garden Shop, plus The Ghost Hunter Store and Jersey Maid, both in Mount Holly, selling candles ranging from $3 for a package of six votives to $22 for a specially made candy corn candle in a large jar. She’s in negotiations with the Garden State Discovery Museum for a line of dinosaur and Lego soaps, or other shapes associated with the kids' museum, to be carried in its gift shop.
Orders can also be placed online at www.wickedwickbrews.com.
Last summer, Prevost started a Soldier of the Month program, which she promoted on her website and Facebook page. She and her husband Michael, 36, have relatives serving in the armed services.
Each month, a soldier on active duty will be selected and 25 percent of Prevost’s sales will be donated to buying the soldier and his company groceries and items not available to them where they’re serving. A candle with the soldier’s picture and another with his company’s picture will be available for purchase.
Another 20 percent of the business's total sales are also donated to the military foundation. With more exposure, Prevost is hopeful corporate sponsors will join her cause.
“My husband has been in the service for 12 years and has been through deployment so many times,” says Jenna Gutierrez, of her husband, Benjamin, a 33-year-old staff sergeant in the Army, who is on his fourth deployment in Afghanistan and was picked for Wicked Wick Brews’ first monthly soldier this October.
In the villages where he’s been stationed, her husband’s unit has been unable to buy coffee beans, filters and are in need of coffee presses, as well as beef jerky and protein bars.
“It’s great to be acknowledged,” says Gutierrez, 34, who lives in Fort Riley, KS, with her two daughters, ages 12 and 6. “There are a lot of soldiers serving time, and it’s nice to be appreciated.”