Custom Candle Fun: How Wick & Flame Launched a Unique Experience with the Help of TEDC Creative Capital

Table of Contents:

From Traditional Jobs to Business Ownership
Bringing a Dream to Life Takes Time
Shaping the Vision and Giving It Legs
Pushing Through Challenges All the Way to Launch
Custom, Personalized Candle-Making in the Heart of Tulsa

Inspired by a fun opportunity to make candles while on vacation, Basia Lopez and Trevor Liston were ready to launch their own business and find their place in the Tulsa community they’d moved to. With the help of TEDC Creative Capital, they honed in on their unique concept— a personalized candle-making bar for adults—developed a clear business plan and opened to great success in the Tulsa Arts District.

From Traditional Jobs to Business Ownership

Like many entrepreneurs, Basia and Trevor moved into business ownership after successful careers working for others. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, they married and worked their jobs—Basia in social work and Trevor in the corporate world in sales. They both enjoyed their roles, but the pandemic hit, changing their priorities.

“I did social work for seven years before I decided I wanted to do something different,” says Basia. “I wanted to do something on my own.” Trevor also felt that desire for change, so they applied to the Tulsa Remote program and moved to Tulsa in 2022.

“We really wanted to plug into the community here,” says Trevor. “We wanted to build a life that allowed us to live life on our terms.” In that drive to create a new way of approaching life and community, the vision for Wick & Flame Candle Bar was born. However, getting from idea to launch involved ups and downs they had to navigate.

Bringing a Dream to Life Takes Times

Trevor and Basia’s entrepreneurial spark ignited during a vacation to Florida in 2022, where they took a candle-making class and had a surprising amount of fun. The experience inspired them to do something in that same field—but with a twist that met a gap they saw in the marketplace.

“We wanted to take the idea up a notch as far as design, experience and feel,” says Basia. “I’m big into DIYs. I like making my own soaps and baking and stuff. I thought, I can do candles.” They opened their LLC, and Basia spent nearly a year testing candle-making, playing with different scents and designs. Slowly, they developed a business plan and moved closer to making their idea a reality.

Of course, launching a business takes funds—something Basia and Trevor knew they needed to figure out. They determined what they needed and then began looking for help, which is how they found out about TEDC Creative Capital.

Shaping the Vision and Giving It Legs 

Trevor and Basia discovered TEDC through online research. “I literally sat down at the computer and googled how you would get funding,” says Trevor. “And TEDC came up. I called them and I said, ‘Do you guys do funding for small business startups?’ And they said, ‘Funny you should ask. We do.’”

TEDC’s team recommended that Basia and Trevor apply for the 12-week Kauffman FastTrac® program. This program supports aspiring entrepreneurs as they develop a clear business model on which to build success. Applying to the program was easy and affordable. “I sat down and applied for the class right there with them,” Trevor says. “It was pretty straightforward and self-explanatory.”

Trevor and Basia successfully completed the program in February and had their funding a few months later, in May. They view that education process as fundamental to contributing to their success.

“TEDC helped a lot with creating the business plan, which helped us hone in on our concept,” says Trevor. “We got help with our financial projections, which can be tricky for a startup.” The program allowed them to gain valuable perspective and principles that helped them feel good about launching a brick-and-mortar location—something they felt strongly was the right move for their business.

“We really just wanted to go big,” said Trevor and Basia. “And TEDC was willing to fund it.”

Pushing through Challenges All the Way to Launch 

Even after completing the educational program and securing funding, Wick & Flame Candle Bar faced its share of new business challenges. Opening their physical location took longer than expected. They had to change locations from the spot they wanted in midtown Tulsa to one downtown in the Tulsa Arts District—which initially meant scrambling to find the right place. It was stressful, they say.

 Fortunately, the switch turned out to be serendipitous. They gained a more affordable rent, a more favorable lease, and a roomy space with a bar top already built to fit their plans. They gave the interior a facelift and launched.

Since opening its doors, Wick & Flame has experienced the typical ups and downs that small businesses encounter. Before reaching consistent growth in 2024, they’ve had high-income months and little downturns. Through it all, Basia and Trevor have been thrilled to see how their unique approach to offering a custom candle-making experience for adults has taken off. ​​They’ve connected with local influencers to help get the word out about their business and have seen an influx of people from as far away as Kansas City and Dallas to participate in what they offer.

Custom, Personalized Candle-Making in the Heart of Tulsa

With their determination hand-in-hand with TEDC’s expertise and guidance, Basia and Trevor have built Wick & Flame Candle Bar into a thriving, luxurious grown-up experience that caters to adults wanting a relaxing night out alone, with a date or with friends. People can walk in, sit at the bar top, order wine or a local beer from Cabin Boys, Nothing’s Left, or Marshall, and be guided one-on-one through making a candle unique to them.

“We walk you personally through the process,” Trevor explains. “No one else is involved in your experience unless you choose to come with a group. It’s very personalized to you. We help you choose and blend up to three scents together so that the fragrance you create is unique to you. And then, you make a candle with the fragrance you just created. It’s something you wouldn’t be able to do in a typical candle-making class.”

“We have add-ons to make the candle pretty,” adds Basia. “It’s very customizable. We have around 90 scents to pick and choose from. It’s really a unique experience. You’re creating something that’s really special to you, and creating memories in the process.”

Wick & Flame serves individuals, couples, and groups through walk-ins and reservations. It also hosts group events, such as birthdays, bachelorette parties, and team-building. The entire space can be rented out for private events. They even offer private labeling. “If there are candles you want to buy in bulk and create your own scent, we can create those for you,” says Basia. “They’re great as party favors, client gifts, or adding to your branding.”

And they’d love to grow as time goes by. “We definitely want to open up another location or two, whether it’s here in the Tulsa area, in Oklahoma City, or in northwest Arkansas. We want to bring this experience to other people.”

Basia and Trevor are thrilled they moved to Tulsa and found the courage to launch Wick & Flame Candle Bar in a community that supports entrepreneurs like them. “Tulsa has been a great community to open up a small business,” they say. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of the community and TEDC. Tulsa is just very unique in its ability to foster small business. It’s incredible.”

Interested in launching a business in Oklahoma? Need funding to build and grow your entrepreneurial enterprise? TEDC Creative Capital is a community development financial institution (CDFI) dedicated to providing educational programs and non-traditional funding vehicles to help startups and small companies succeed. Learn more about how TEDC’s caring team of experts can help you turn your business concept into a thriving success.