Three Yerington siblings have been busy little bees while sheltering at home during the pandemic.
Instead of lazing around all day at home during COVID-19 restrictions, the Roots children — Easton, 9, Levi, 6, and Audrey, 2 — have created a home business making all-natural, locally-sourced beeswax candles featuring regional scents like sage, scotch pine, lavender and lemongrass.
“We helped Momma’s passion become a reality during quarantine!” states the Instagram page for We 3 Kids Candles.
Under the guidance of their parents — Zachary, a graphic artist, and Antonia, a doula and lactation coach — the siblings have made quarantine months sensory-rich, hands-on educational experiences that also benefit the community.
Not only are they exploring science concepts as they research scents and experiment with wax and oil proportions, the children are learning math by selling products and making change at Yerington’s Early Bird Farmers Market — and demonstrating philanthropic responsibilities: They donate 10 percent of all proceeds to local literacy programs.
“I told them that if we’re going to make something that we need to pick something in our community to support,” said Antonia. “The kids love the library programs — storytime, arts, crafts. With everything happening with COVID, we haven’t been able to gather, but the library has prepared little bags of activities. When we moved here four years ago, the library was one of the first places we visited and (the children’s librarian) made us feel so welcome.”
At the end of August, We 3 Kids Candles donated $90 to the Mason Valley Friends of the Library — money generated from the first few months of quarantine candle sales.
“The fun part is making them,” said Easton, as he restocked a table display of glass jars at a recent farmers market.
“The tough part was putting the right amount of drops in,” added Levi.
The family transforms their kitchen into a science lab on “wax days”. Easton and Levi help count out the proper amount of oil droplets, assist in stirring the wax, hand-set the wicks and measure coconut and beeswax. Even little Audrey is involved with candle production, helping stir wax and “she sits on my lap and we put labels on together,” Antonia said.
“These are all hand-poured and clean-burning; zero soot,” Antonia said. “Beeswax is an antioxidant. There are no toxins. The candle burns all the way down and you can reuse the jar. No waste. And, it’s so important to know what’s going into your air is very clean.”
Leftovers from candle pours are used to make grape-sized scented wax melts. Products must “cure” for about three days.
“We’re (at the farmers market) every other week because we have to have time to pour and cure,” Antonia said. They are preparing a website to provide sales opportunities after October and the farmers market ends.
The 8- and 16-ounce jars and 2-ounce tins used by We 3 Kids Candles are bought from a chain store, but the candle contents are almost entirely local. Some oils are purchased from a certified organic farm in Oregon.
“We use beeswax from a Mason Valley beekeeper,” Antonia said. “Beeswax smells a lot like honey, so we experimented with all-natural coconut. We played around with the chemistry in our kitchen.”
They perfected recipes by trial and error.
“We put too much lemongrass” when concocting earlier versions, Levi said, as he held up a petite Mason jar. “Oh, that was strong. Our house smelled like lemongrass.”
Each of the children have a candle that represents them based on the meaning of their name and attributes.
“Easton’s name means from the east, God’s light and glory. His candle is a woodsy scent, with cedarwood and juniper berry. It brings clarity and cleaning like the sunrise does on a new day,” Antonia said. “Levi, which means ‘harmonious’ has a light scent — scotch pine and lemon. Those oils bring peace and joy like the feeling of harmony. And Audrey, which means ‘noble, strength and brave’ has tangerine and clove; warm and sweet. Those oils bring acceptance and awareness like the feelings of strength and braveness.”
We 3 Kids Candles has several other products inspired by regional and seasonal scents, loved ones and suggestions from buyers. One candle honors an aunt who brought oils from Egypt. The candle has cypress, frankincense and myrrh. Another has fresh coffee grounds (“a customer said she’d like it,” Levi explained as he deeply inhaled brown-speckled wax inside a silver tin), and another features patchouli and cinnamon.
Two top sellers are the “Nevada” and “Yerington” candles.
“Nevada has sage, black spruce and vanilla,” Easton said, holding up a green-labeled jar.
“This one reminds us of Yerington,” added Antonia, pointing to a purple-labeled candle. “It has lavender, fir needle and coriander.”
The business has provided many opportunities for the family to spend quality time together, learn about local agriculture and meet their neighbors.
“The beekeeper put us in beekeeper suits and we got to go out and see the bees, how they make their hives,” Easton said. “We even got to see the queen bee.”
“And we saw the boy bees,” Levi added. “Did you know the boy bees don’t have stingers? But they have huge eyes!”
We 3 Kids Candles can be purchased at the Early Bird Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays through October. Items can also be viewed on Instagram at we3kids_candles. Each candle purchase is marked on a card, and after five candles the buyer receives a free, 5-ounce jar of Hall’s Honey, also produced in Yerington.
“I grew up in Las Vegas,” Antonia said. “When we moved here, people were so kind. They came up to us and introduced themselves. I want to pay that forward. It’s that kind of kindness that makes Yerington special.”
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