Wax Buffalo

How Wax Buffalo’s Alicia Reisinger Turned a Hobby Into a Million-Dollar Venture

My oldest daughter, Navy, was born with a cleft lip and palate. When Navy was born I was traveling the world as a TV producer and on-air host for a television show called “Footnote.” Navy turned my world upside down in a really beautiful way. Her birth forced me to pause and be still with her as my husband and I worked through Navy’s treatment, surgery and ultimately her healing. In the process, I slowly found my love of candles again. Something I had adored doing as a child with my Grandma Ferne, the art of candle making. Pouring candles again was a great way to center and realign with my own spiritual journey and make something safe and beautiful for my family.

It was important to us that we used clean and natural products in our home, so I began researching and learning more about the candles that were mass-produced and sold mainstream. And what I learned about petroleum-based candles was really unsettling and I knew I wanted to create clean and safe candles for my family and our home.

So, with a whiskey in hand, I would pour candles at night after I put my four kiddos to bed. Slowly I began to make candles for friends and a close friend encouraged me to try selling them. Finally, I agreed and put a few in a local shop. They sold out pretty much immediately. I made $100 from that very first sale and invested that right back into my business, ultimately creating what Wax Buffalo is today. I continued to make candles in my kitchen until I opened our flagship store just over 2 years ago. Now all of our candles are hand poured in small batches in our flagship store located in the heart of Lincoln, Nebraska. 

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Wax Buffalo has since grown from what was once a side hustle to a million dollar+ business with nearly 20 employees and sold on the shelves of wholesale partners across the world, including Whole Foods. 

Alicia Reisinger inside her Wax Buffalo store

Now, I don’t want to paint the picture that I woke up one day and Wax Buffalo was wildly successful. That certainly was not the case. There was, and still is, a lot of grit, late nights and tears. But this is all part of the messy but beautiful process of creating something from nothing and loving it dearly.

I’ve learned a lot of fun lessons along the way. Maybe one day I’ll share a really funny story about boxes I just thought we had to have … but that’s a different story for a different time, my friends. The lessons are the same so if I could offer up a few tips for starting or growing your business it would be these little love notes.

  1. Do it. Seriously. Don’t think too hard about it, just try.

Stop thinking about how you want to start or grow your business and just start taking steps, even small ones. Seriously. Whatever IT is, just get started today.  You’ll make mistakes and missteps and that’s OK. You’ll also have some really beautiful wins. You’ve just got to take that first step forward. 

  1. Don’t spend a lot of money to get started. 

There is beauty and grace in the slow grow. Go slow and do it well. You’ll learn so much along the way, too. About yourself and what is important to you and your business — about what you really need in order to be successful. Invest in the areas of your business that are important to your long-term growth — like a really great team — versus those things that are super shiny in the moment.   

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  1. Surround yourself with humans smarter and more talented than you.

Building a team — whether that means on your business’s payroll or contractors — can be really fun and also frightening at the same time. Be OK with accepting that you do not have to, nor should you, know everything about everything. Build a team that you believe in and who believes in you and beautiful things will happen!

  1. Figure out your WHY and never waiver from that. 

Hold strong to your why even when it’s hard, scary or even unpopular. I am incredibly passionate about igniting change in the arena of working women, specifically working mothers. Creating a movement where women feel supported to challenge the status quo of when and how to work. Working in a way that suits us as individuals rather than robotically pumping out work within an allotted time frame. And I was doing this long before the pandemic challenged working norms, proving this model can and does work in retail, in business, in life.

  1. Today is not every day.

If it was a bad one, it’s OK. It’s not your everyday. If it was a good one, hell yes … but be careful about making decisions based on one specific day. Remember, today is not your everyday. It is one day. Your days are cumulative of your everydays and it’s important to stop and ground that into your brain each day before making a decision that could change the trajectory of your company or your life.

My hope is that you find something in one of the tips above that speaks to you and nestles its way into your heart. And if they all do, great! At the end of day just remember you are doing something really brave and creating something really special and there is beauty in the bravery of the process.  

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