Lisa Neilson recently received some exciting and unexpected news, news that set her on course to fulfilling her life-long dream of “creating a product, flying with it and making it happen.”
Owner of Wine Wicks (luxury wine scented candles) for 10 years, Neilson recently completed an application to offer her candles on the Home Shopping Network (HSN). However, the network wasn’t taking on any new products at the time, so unbeknownst to Neilson, her product was entered in the American Dream competition instead.
This nationwide competition is a partnership between HSN and Good Housekeeping to find a passionate entrepreneur with a new and unique product.
As good fortune would have it, Neilson completed the HSN application on July 25, the competition deadline was July 31, and in that short week, she was selected as one of 85 semifinalists out of 600 submissions.
Neilson got the news in an email, which she originally believed was spam. Then reality set in.
“I was nervous and shocked. I really didn’t know what to think,” Neilson said. “Then I thought okay, here we go. I have to get a plane ticket for myself and my husband, have to make hotel reservations, reserve a rental car, and make sure my product gets there ... with such a short time to get my stuff together, I’m scrambling.”
Located in Coarsegold, Wine Wicks specializes in creating a line of natural wine scented candles. Currently there are four scents: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and White Zinfandel, with two other aromas currently being tested to be added to the line next year.
The business came about after Neilson received a gift from one of her husband’s cousins, who lives in Napa and works for a winery. The gift was a wine aroma wheel, which is a visual representation of the most common wine aromas.
While the business started off slow and small in her kitchen, since 2015, Neilson has used a U.S. manufacturer to mass produce her product.
“Something like this takes a lot of time. I’m just now getting the product out on the market,” Neilson added. “Everything is trial and error. A lot of work goes into it, you just don’t put a product together one day and have it on the market the next.”
As a semifinalist, Neilson will travel to St. Petersburg, Florida the week of Aug. 29. She will have three minutes to pitch her product to HSN and Good Housekeeping executives.
Because she is so passionate, Neilson admitted it will be difficult to cram everything she wants to say in those few minutes, so she’s been practicing her presentation in front of family, including her mother, who worked in advertising in the Bay Area.
Neilson will also participate in on-air training from an HSN host and receive direct feedback from merchants and executives of both the HSN and Good Housekeeping teams.
From the 85 semifinalists, 10 finalists will be selected in St. Petersburg. These 10 will not only be featured on HSN in December, but will be announced in the December issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, out on news stands on or about Nov. 15.
The public will be invited to vote on their favorite product, and those votes will be taken into consideration in selecting the final winner.
The winning entrepreneur will then introduce their brand to HSN’s 96 million households and in Good Housekeeping Magazine, reaching its 25-plus million readers. The winning product will also be tested in the Good Housekeeping Institute for the opportunity to receive the Good Housekeeping Seal for one year.
Neilson’s future could be reminiscent of the storyline in the 2015 movie, “Joy,” which is based on the true story of a woman who builds a business dynasty with the HSN sale of her Miracle Mop, a self-wringing contraption that makes for easier floor-scrubbing.
Just getting to this point, Neilson already feels like a winner.
“I think I’ve already won,” she said, “but if I end up the big winner, it would be amazing that so many more people could enjoy my product. It would also give me the opportunity to expand Wine Wicks, and to move on to another candle line I’ve been working on since 2007.”
Neilson, 52, is a devoted wife, mother of two, grandmother of one, and a business owner. She not only owns Wine Wicks, but Coarsegold Salon and Coarsegold Nails as well, along with commercial property along Highway 41 near Mountain Aire in Coarsegold.