The expression "burning the midnight oil" is a reality for Brandy Glass-Lucchesi, a Wauwatosa-based candle maker of 12 years who struggles with insomnia. Glass-Lucchesi says she started making candles as a way to relax and pass the time when she was unable to sleep.
Today, she runs a small candle making business called, aptly, Brandy's Candles.
More than a decade ago, Glass-Lucchesi started making candles for herself and as gifts for friends, many of whom were so impressed with her abilities that they suggested she sell them. So she started hosting open houses for people to come over and peruse her collection. Then she put some of her candles on consignment in various salons. But mostly, Glass-Lucchesi takes on freelance jobs through word-of-mouth or Facebook.
Every candle is specially ordered by the customer, who can choose from soy, beeswax or paraffin, as well as the color and scent. Just about any color is available and scents include lilac, pear, passion fruit, cilantro, strawberry champagne, fresh linen, pine, honeydew, grapefruit, lavender, peppermint and more. Glass-Lucchesi says she creates new scents, too, and even once had a request for "fireplace smelling" candles.
Any size order is acceptable, from individual candles to a larger number needed for a wedding or shower. Customers can supply their own containers or pick from hers.
Although she appreciates the business, Glass-Lucchesi says it's difficult for her to part with her candles sometimes. "I really like keeping my candles close to me, but I have to part with some otherwise I wouldn't have any room in my house," she says.
Her home, which includes her candle-making studio, features hundreds of her wax creations tastefully and artistically arranged with antique items. Her candles range from classic votives to miniature Kohler bathtubs filled with wax to majestic-looking swans. Glass-Lucchesi says she is very particular about what she pours her wax into and hand selects a lot of her containers from estate sales.
Prior to starting her business, Glass-Lucchesi says she always enjoyed burning candles, but was often frustrated how many burned down the middle but not the sides, leaving so much unused wax. She realized the wick was key to a full burn and that many candles are made with wicks that are not the right size.
"I started playing with the wax and I figured out through common sense how to make candles so they burned all the way," she says.
Glass-Lucchesi grew up in Milwaukee where she attended 13 different schools in 13 years. She also lost two siblings during her childhood. So when she left Milwaukee after high school, she needed a fresh start and believed her move was for good.
She traveled to Tempe, Ariz., San Diego and New Orleans. However, at 21, she moved back to the Riverwest neighborhood in Milwaukee to raise her newborn son near family and to attend Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) where she earned a degree in horology – watch, clock and jewelry repair.
Glass-Lucchesi was gifted at the trade and recruited by a jeweler from New York to work in his shop. She moved to upstate New York where she lived in a beautiful house in the mountains and worked as a horologist. She eventually opened her own business, but hand injuries and lack of business forced her to close up shop.
"Watch repair became a dying art form," she says. "Now, if your battery dies, you just get a free watch in a box of cereal to replace it."
In 1992, Glass-Lucchesi returned to Milwaukee and married musician Louie Lucchesi (Crime Family, Brother Louie), whom she had already known for many years but never dated before.
"We've now known each other for 40 years," she says. "From the first time I met him I had a crush on him. He was just the cutest thing ever."
Family is important to Glass-Lucchesi, who lost her mother earlier this summer, and remains extremely close to her grandchildren, ages 8 and 6. She refers to one of her grandkids as "her heartbeat" and the other "her giggles."
Most of Glass-Lucchesi's candle-making takes place in the fall and winter months. During the summer, she is an avid gardener with a seemingly magical green thumb.
"I bring plants back to life," she says, touching the leaves of a lush lemon tree that was once tossed out in a neighbor's trash.
Staying positive is important to Glass-Lucchesi, both on a personal and creative level, and she never pours when she's in a bad mood.
"My hands are on every candle I make and I only put good energy into them," she says. "This is my family in New Orleans coming out in me."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.