Nic Bianchi has been a CEO of his own company for four years.
And yet, he just bought his first car.
Nic is only 16, a sophomore at Papillion-La Vista South High School. He’s the owner and founder of Bianchi Candle Company, which he hopes to see take off across the United States in 2019.
“I love the business. It’s kind of my baby,’’ he says.
Nic started the company after receiving a candle-making kit for his 12th birthday. The Wild Worksmen was his first line. He now has three natural soy candle collections and a handful of special-edition candles for clients, including the Greater Omaha Chamber. He also gives back by donating to a local charity each year.
The company made about 5,000 candles in 2018, and he’s hoping to take the next big step at the American Handcraft Wholesalers show in Philadelphia later this month.
“There are thousands of people who go to the show,’’ he says. “It’s a big opportunity to scale my business ... This should be what gets us in the other 49 states.’’
When Nic starts talking about product lines, cold calls and expansion, he sounds much older than his years. His goal: “To compete with Yankee Candle.”
Yet he’s a full-time student who likes hanging out with his buddies just like any teen. He never liked to play sports but compares the hours he puts into the company to what a high school athlete might devote to basketball or football.
“It’s always fun in business class,’’ Nic says. “The teachers always say I should teach it. There’s a couple of things they don’t know that I do.’’
He’s learned that by trial and error. He’s made mistakes the past few years but has grown from each one.
He’s had help, too. His mom, Nicole, owns Bravium Human Development. She and her business partner have started strategy sessions with Nic, figuring out his goals and how he’s going to grow as a company.
Denise Willett at House of J has been a mentor in teaching Nic how best to approach stores. Sondra Gerber from Blue Pomegranate Gallery has helped him develop nationwide wholesaling and shipping plans.
His dad, Dave, is a police officer. He helps pour candles in a walled-off area of the family garage during busy times, just like Nic’s friends, neighbors and other members of his extended family.
August through December is his busiest time, so he has some extra hours now to think about what is next for the business and himself.
He still plans to attend college because he wants to enjoy the experience. Plus, while dealing with vendors and wholesalers, he has learned that he loves marketing.
Doing something in that field while still remaining CEO of his growing candle company seems ideal.
“It’s taught me so much and developed who I am today,’’ Nic says. “I can go into it knowing it will keep making me who I am. I can make it to where it’s always going to make me happy.’’
A closer look at our Transformers
Hasbro's Transformers toyline and spinoff comics and cartoons provide the inspiration for Matt Haney's illustrations for Outlook 2019. Haney, a World-Herald graphic artist since 2006, admits to being "semi-obsessed" with everything Transformers since receiving his first action figure as a Christmas gift in 1984. He was 8 years old. "They were so popular that mothers were fighting for them on the shelves at Target," Haney says. He started mowing lawns for money to buy the latest figures and comic books. "Not much has changed," he quips about his ever-growing collection. In Matt's renderings, as in the series, the Autobots are the heroes, and the quotes are famous lines from Optimus Prime, their main leader. Together, they tell the story of "Omaha: Transformed."