At only 20 years old, Wesley Silverstein has created a successful business that supports him, his customers, and our planet! Wesley’s Wicks is the name of his online Etsy Shop, Instagram, and Facebook Page. While I’m sure you can infer from the name, Wesley’s Wicks is a candle shop! However, this shop is far from ordinary. He has found his niche in the world of wicks, collecting both abundant and rare liquor bottles and repurposing them into unique, vintage-like gifts.
Wesley's Wicks: From Trash to Craft
Growing up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Wesley was like any other 20 something, going to college and living his best life. Unlike others, however, Wesley was not a partier nor drinker. It wasn’t until on a casual walk one day through the neighborhood, that a glimmering bottle of Don Julio caught Wesley’s eye. Upon closer look, he soon learned that this perceived “trash” was going to be the inspiration for his future endeavors. “I saw a candle-filled liquor bottle and thought, wow I’m going to do this”, says Wesley. It didn’t take long for Wesley to get to work, creating liquor-inspired candles and recruiting his grandpa along the way.
The road to success, as we all know, is no straight shot. Wesley and his grandfather experimented with different methods of cutting the tops of the bottles down into candle-like shapes. After much trial and error, the duo eventually settled with an appropriate “wet tile saw” and got to working. “I can now make more than 100 candles a day”, Wesley explained to me.
The Process of Creating a Candle
Wesley and his Grandpa had to seek out wax distributors, scents, and fine-tune their process. First comes the cutting, and shaping, then of course the sanding (which is actually unique to Wesley’s business). After that, the wax is poured in and scented according to the weight of the glass. Working out of grandpa’s garage has been an efficient way of doing things thus far, and I even got an exclusive look at the setup!
Support from Local Businesses
The irony of a non-drinker owning a liquor-based candle business might seem challenging, but not for Wesley! Local bars and other affiliates donate their bottles to him, and even sell his products.
In fact, he has so much product, he needs a whole storage unit to store the excess. “Getting to meet new people through this business has been great. I meet really cool people all the time. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of the business.” Friends and family also contribute to his collection.
Speaking of product, Wesley’s Wicks specializes in liquor bottles, but can really make a candle out of anything. He has White Claw candles, wine bottle candles, Bud Light candles, and more. It isn’t difficult to see why he does so well in his business, there’s a candle for every taste, so to speak. “The fan favorites are Titos, Blantons, and Casamigos. My personal favorite is either Blue Label or Colonel Taylor Barrel Proof”. He also said that he genuinely enjoys receiving rare bottles. One of which he recently received, was one of only 138 made worldwide. Wesley is now taking custom requests, meaning people are sending him their personal bottles and he makes custom candles out of them.
A Planet-Friendly Alternative
Wesley’s Wicks is lucrative because of the nature of the business; being a planet-friendly alternative to purchasing a factory-produced candle with little to no meaning.
An unexpected purpose, however, has been Wesley’s ability to turn his candles into something of sentimental value. Since he now takes requests, he is able to turn once dust-collecting memories into beautiful home décor. A recent customer even had him transform their late father’s old life-long bottle into a candle that she could keep forever. People appreciate the personalization and Wesley’s Wicks goes above and beyond to make sure they are happy with the final product.
A 15 Hour A Day Job
With social media being a primary form of advertisement and center of e-commerce, and Wesley being a savvy product of Gen Z, he knew exactly how to promote his growing enterprise. Starting on Etsy, and eventually creating Instagram and Facebook pages to share the photos and links to the store, Wesley’s Wicks had already grown quite the following.
Creating Tik Tok content, though, really sent the shop to another level! According to Wesley his candle business was spreading and “blowing up” through Tik Tok. With over 3500 followers and 14.3 thousand likes it is no surprise. Fans were hyped to see such a creative product being sold. He even goes live to answer common questions, take requests, and promote his business.
This once small idea has turned into a 15 hour a day job. But Wesley and his grandfather have been able to grow the business into what it is, in record time, because they have been willing to put in the time necessary for this “15 hour a day, ‘day job’ “.
A Temporary Career
Wesley’s future is looking bright given his current success with Wesley Wicks. However, that is not all he has going for him. He is also a student at USF and is studying to be a neurosurgeon one day. “I don’t plan on making candles till I’m 75, but this business really supports me for what I need now. I also get to spend a lot of time with my grandpa and cousins which brings me a lot of joy. I couldn’t ask for more”, said Wesley.
Whether creating candles from alcohol bottles or one day removing tumors from brains, it is clear that Wesley, at such a young age, has a promising future ahead of him.
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About the Author
Sarah Haupt is a 25-year-old college student and dance instructor. Though her interests are broad, writing has always held a place in her heart since childhood. First taking interest in narrative essay writing, Sarah continued to pursue contests in various other styles such as poetry and journalism throughout her high school career. Now studying education, she hopes to expand her knowledge of the journalistic field and possibly continue writing on the side throughout her time as a teacher.
Oakland Park is home to many unique small businesses and carries much of the Fort Lauderdale culture on its back. Sarah loves exploring the area and finding new places to discover, eat at, photograph, etc. Visiting new spots and learning about community-related activities has become a new hobby for Sarah, and she plans to use this platform to inform the people of Oakland Park about what is going on in their backyard in a truthful, descriptive, and entertaining manner.
You can find her sitting at a coffee shop, creating new dance moves, and writing about her favorite places on LivingInOaklandPark.com.