Centenary University student is finalist at prestigious EO Global Student Entrepreneur Awards competition

Three years ago, Centenary University student Nicoletta Ciccia picked up some beeswax and a few candle wicks at a thrift store while visiting her aunt in South Carolina. The hobby she intended to start bloomed into a thriving business that produces homemade soy wax candles, as well as other sustainably produced items.

With more than 4,000 sales to date, Ciccia was one of six finalists from across New Jersey at the recent EO Global Student Entrepreneur Awards competition.

The competition, which is sponsored by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, supports student entrepreneurs with mentorship, recognition and connections to take their businesses to the next level. The New Jersey competition was held at the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park.

A resident of Newton, Ciccia launched her business by making candles for family and friends. After lots of practice and research, she mustered the confidence to bring eight of her homemade candles to an outdoor event, wondering if she’d sell any. Within minutes, a woman had purchased one; by the end of the event, she had sold every candle. Today, Ciccia — a Centenary business major with a marketing minor — often sells more than 80 products at in-person events, and also has a website.

Ciccia’s commitment to sustainability is evident in her products. Each item is handmade from eco-friendly ingredients including soy wax, essential oils, crystals and dried flowers and herbs. Containers such as mugs, bowls and teacups sourced from thrift shops make each item unique.

Linda Poisseroux, Centenary University associate professor of business and director of Enactus, the university’s competitive business team, helped Ciccia prepare for the recent entrepreneurship competition.

She said: “Nicoletta impressed the judges and everyone in the room with her business acumen and success. Centenary is proud of this young entrepreneur who is running a growing business while earning her degree.”