Alicia Reisinger wears her heart on her sleeve when asked about buying local. The founder of Wax Buffalo pours as much into the Nebraska small business community as she does wax into her company’s trademark glass jars branded with a big X.
The Lincoln-based candle company, which was founded in 2014, offers small batch, pure soy candles in scents inspired by everything from cocktails to seasons to the Capital City itself.
Reisinger has a vision for the company that is much more than a candle shop in Lincoln’s Haymarket District near 7th and O streets. Just in time for Black Friday, Wax Buffalo is set to open its second location on Prescott Avenue, which joins other neighboring woman-owned businesses including Paper Kite and Goldenrod Pastries.
But she didn’t stop there; Wax Buffalo’s Winter Market on O Street will debut December 4 from 12 to 6 p.m. under the O Street bridge. Through a partnership with the Haymarket Association, the inaugural event is modeled after German Christmas markets and will feature local businesses and over 75 makers.
“Our goal is to create something that becomes like a tradition for Nebraska, and it becomes something you look forward to and want to be a part of each year,” Reisinger said.
She also hopes to create more buzz about the businesses in the historic area.
“There’s tons of small businesses down here, but I think over the years, people kind of moved out from this area,” she said. “So there’s a bunch of us down here that are really helping to set a new agenda for the Haymarket and get bodies back here and see the historic part of Lincoln and indulge in small businesses.”
While Wax Buffalo maintains its small business charm, its reach is anything but small. Last year the company reached $1 million in revenue. Its products can be found in nearly 400 stores throughout the U.S. including Whole Foods and Scheels. Those looking for candles in the Omaha Metro can find them in stores such as Made in Omaha and Mulhall’s.
Collaboration Over Competition
The Christmas market is a testament to Reisinger’s passion for Nebraska’s small business community. Her motto, “collaboration over competition,” is displayed in the Wax Buffalo flagship store.
Collaborations have come in the form of limited product lines that featured vessels from local artists like ceramic artist Joy O’Conner from EarthenJoy. Others, like “Distance,” which came together at the beginning of the pandemic, featured products that helped raise money for the Food Bank of Lincoln.
Reisinger has also created a space for local “femme forward” business owners with Ember – a society of woman-owned businesses that meets once a month.
After noting several people coming to her asking for advice, she decided to create a group for women to gather.
“It’s been really cool to see what builds out of that and the way that people collaborate, just because we’re in the same group together,” she said.
Initially called Local Girl Gang, the group is reemerging with the new name. The next event will take place December 8 at Alchemy Aqua Vitae.
“We really have a heart for other female-owned businesses throughout Nebraska,” Reisinger said.
A Space for Creativity
Building off a popular feature of the Haymarket location, the 1,400-square-foot Prescott location features a larger candle lab for customers to create their own candles. With parties and showers in mind, the new space can host 40, versus 12 at the flagship store.
Wax Buffalo also received its liquor license for both locations with the intention to grow that side of the business.
Sustainability is also top of mind in Wax Buffalo products, with vessels made to be repurposed, reused or recycled. For instance, the cocktail collection not only features scents like Moscow mule and mulled wine, but the candles are poured into cocktail glasses. The candles are vegan, made with essential oils, and American-made pure soy, free of phthalates and petroleum.
At this time, getting poised for the holiday shopping season, Reisinger noted that for small businesses, nearly 75% of yearly revenue is made in November and December alone.
“My biggest encouragement would be for just our community to think about where you’re spending your dollars this season,” she said.
In 2023, Wax Buffalo will also begin offering same-day delivery for customers who want the option to send a gift to someone in the Lincoln area.
With that option comes the brand-new “Botanical” line, which features a new reusable glass vessel and scents such as teak, santal, cactus, wildflower and dahlia.
With the increase in shipping costs on top of mind— a whopping 300% — the company has started a crowdfunding campaign to launch the line.
Reisinger said navigating these challenges has welcomed creative solutions.
“It’s trying to figure out how to absorb the cost of making our product without necessarily having to pass it on to our customers, but also trying to be savvy as a business owner and say, ‘Okay, how do we survive this,’” she said.
Customers can contribute to the crowdfunding campaign at waxbuffalo.com.
531-500-2755 • 727 O St. Lincoln 68508
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