North Fork Candles Get Lit

This article first appeared in the January 31, 2018  issue of The Independent Newspaper


Sip the wine, savor the local produce, and inhale the signature scents of the North Fork by candlelight. More than any other of the senses, our olfactory senses are the strongest at triggering emotions and memories.

Suddenly a candle is more than a glowing flame but an ignition of positivity. Three local companies are taking the beauty around them and turning it into a piece of home for everyone.

Baylily Candles, located in Southold, launched in the fall of 2017 as a family endeavor. It’s owned by Michelle J. Warde and her husband, Scott Warde, with their two-year-old daughter Lily inspiring the name.

“She is the greatest gift that I have ever been given. She reminds me every day to never give up on my dreams and to always ‘Stop and smell the candles,'” Michele expressed.

“I love the comfort of home and I cherish all of the special memories that I have created with my family and friends. The North Fork of Long Island is home to me and is such a beautiful place. The beauty is what inspires our candles.”

All of their candles are hand poured, made from all natural soy wax, and take about a day to make in a 13-ounce recycled glass jar before being packaged in an eco-friendly linen bag. Merlot flavor, which smells good enough to drink, is one of their best sellers. Custom labels are in store for local vineyards and private events. Other aromatic scents include Pinot Grigio, Pumpkin Souffle, and Cranberry Jam.

Visit their Facebook page at BaylilyCandles, or email to learn more.

Wick & Wine Candle Company, located in Southold as well, is another example of what happens when you mix wine country with entrepreneurship. Owner Jon Demo turned a fun hobby into a profitable business once he created the bottle and glass design.

Each candle is hand produced on the North Fork. The repurposed 1.5 liter bottle dismantles, revealing a usable wine glass. Once the wax melts, the bottle can be used as a planter, flower vase, or, better yet, wine glass again. For the wine lover in all of us, this really is the gift that keeps on giving.

As the seasons vary, so do the most scents at Wick & Wine, but toast to the flavors of Red Sangria, Champagne Room, Unlimited Mimosas, and Vineyard Breeze. Two new lines are on the horizon including more traditional candle scents and aromatherapy, in addition to adaptable lines of repurposed wine glassware, bath bombs, and soaps.

“Those inexpensive candles stocked to the gills in big retail stores might make a candle lover feel like they’re getting a deal, but in the long run soy wax wins the day every time,” Demo said. “Soy wax is made from all natural vegetable oil – it burns cleaner, safer, and longer.”

Demo donates to several charities and co-founded Kait’s Angels, a nonprofit that aims to empower the local community.

Email to learn about where you can purchase products.

Farmers Kitchen is a fourth-generation family farm located in Jamesport with a storefront in Riverhead. Its greenhouses raise herbs and flowers while field crops produce items such as garlic, onions, and culinary lavender.

Nearly 17 years ago Emilie Zaweski and her husband assembled local gift baskets and opened up the local market by creating a localized candle. Today, their daughter Krista inspired the names of all 17 of their scents, along with the design.

“The candles were designed with our growing operation of herbs on the farm. So, many of our scents were inspired by herbs for their clean, fresh scent,” Zaweski said. Before choosing a specific scent the company asks a varied audience to sample and provide feedback.

Each candle is hand-poured and made with 100 percent soy wax, with lead-free wicks and the purest fragrant oils. In the summertime, whiff the likes of Grapefruit Mango, Cool Citrus Basil, and Coconut Lime Verbena. In fall, a Pear Harvest and Pumpkin Crunch. For winter, there’s Balsam Fir and Citrus Spruce. And in spring, Lemon Verbena.

Visit their Instagram @Farmerskitchenny, email, or call 631-727-7044. Better yet, stop in person at 309-1 Main Street in Riverhead.

Eat, drink, and shop local. Now, light a local candle!

Follow more on Instagram & Facebook @NikkiOnTheDaily

Strong Island is Island Strong

(This article first appeared in the October 18, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)

island strong
My new poncho, with Terrance Saporito, CEO


Island Strong All Day Long. More than a phrase or t-shirt, it’s actually the company motto of Island Strong, an online merchandise store that began selling products in 2015. Terrance Saporito, CEO and founder of the company, designed the popular logo during his college humor t-shirt business days; a filled-in outline of Long Island with the word “STRONG” boldly in the middle. However, it was his wife, Erica, who came up with the name Island Strong as a tribute to strengthen the community.

Saporito and partner, Brian Jones, who handles ecommerce and shipping, are Island natives that have been friends for almost two decades after first meeting in school at Connetquot. As business ideas were flowing, Saporito and Jones were introduced to local celebrity and UFC fighter Chris Wade, who is a jack-of-all-trades helping wherever possible.

“Chris’s ideas and goals aligned with ours so well it was a no-brainer. And just last year my long time mentor Al Carrabis joined us,” Saporito said. “Al is a very established business man who currently lives in Blue Point. He corralled us three in and started turning Island Strong into a well-oiled machine. All of our friends and family have been so supportive and we really have built one huge family.”

In particular, Saporito pointed to the wonder women behind the business, Erica and Jones’s girlfriend, Mallory.

Two new lines of hats and beanies with the Island Strong and LOCAL designs are expected to come out later this month, as new creations pop up several times a year. Saporito primarily constructs everything himself, with the exception of a few fan creations that are submitted. In trying to keep with the idea of “shop local,” Royal Apparel in Hauppauge sources some of the clothing, with much of it coming from within the United States. Currently, they are using East End Emblem in Ronkonkoma for their prints.

Fan favorite designs include the signature Island Strong logo, the Long Island mermaid, and the LOCAL logo. “The LOCAL logo is very simple but I feel it can be worn by any Long Islander. We have plans to expand further on this design,” Saporito acknowledged. As for who can be seen wearing it,

“It is astonishing how many orders we get from out of state. When they leave Long Island, everyone wants to take a piece with them.”

Island Strong works with local charities on a consistent basis. With aims to better the community, they’re currently working with Room4Love, Boots on the Ground NY, and Save the Great South Bay, but the charities occasionally rotate. At this time the company directs all donations to Island Harvest with an awareness that this is the “most crucial time for Long Islanders in need.”

Yet, it’s Peconic Land Trust that hits home and is always in their hearts. “My mother Carol Isles who is on the board of directors for LINLA (Long Island Nursery & Landscape Association) and LIFB (Long Island Farm Bureau) mentioned Peconic Land Trust to me and we fell in love with what they represent and their goals for Long Island,” Saporito said. All of this led to the creation of the Loyal to the Soil logo.

Now fans of Loyal to the Soil can sip beer while wearing their favorite shirt. Being released later this fall is a new Loyal to the Soil wheat beer in collaboration with Jamesport Farm Brewery. Saporito expressed his excitement. “Them being a farm brewery and growing 90 percent of their own ingredients, it’s only fitting. Myself and Brian love Long Island craft beer, so this is a dream come true.”

Beyond giving back, “my appreciation for Long Island goes much deeper,” said Saporito. “I’ve met so many incredible people over the last two years. I’ve realized that our communities are what make Long Island so unique. The friends we’ve made along this journey make Long Island so special to us,” Saporito passionately expressed.

“We’re inspired greatly by towns like Greenport and Sayville. We spend a lot of time there because of the hometown feel you get when you’re walking the street or talking to shop owners. Not to say that other towns don’t have that, it’s just where we are right now. I grew up going to beautiful places like the Arboretum and especially love the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport. We’re lucky to be close to so many incredible places. People around the country don’t have that luxury and I think we take it for granted.”

Island Strong emphasizes that their company buildup has been in large part through Instagram. Dozens of local photographers tag the account in an almost symbiotic relationship to spread brand awareness. Island Strong can also be found at local festivals where people can meet the team behind their favorite social media posts. “No social media platform will get your message across better than a conversation,” Saporito said.

In addition to selling merchandise online and in a select variety of small businesses, including Riverhead’s Taste the East End Boutique, Island Strong will be opening their first brick-and-mortar location in summer of 2018, filled with a plethora of Long Island products.

Want to go Island Strong All Day Long? Follow them on Instagram and Facebook @LIslandStrong or purchase your very own gear at


Shop the East End

(This article first appeared in the September 13, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


Shop local is more than a motto; it’s a way of life. Long Island’s East End is a community that helps local businesses thrive through countless partnerships, and Taste the East End Boutique helps to bring it all together.

Situated next door to the Hyatt East End, at 489 East Main Street in Riverhead, in partnership with Hyatt, the Long Island Aquarium, and a shop at MacArthur Airport, the store was established during the summer of 2016. Customers should not be misled by the name, as product ranges from gourmet foods to candles, skincare, tote bags, and much more. All catering to its customers while supporting local markets, the artisan-crafted goods are all produced in New York, with a large focus on the greater LI region.

Alexandra Bussi is the store designer and manager. The boutique has an airy décor emulating the serene surroundings of the North Fork. Upon entering the doors you’ll oftentimes see Bussi behind the counter — the restored bed of a Ford pick-up truck. By her side, her Pomeranian, Lola, enthusiastically greets customers.

“It’s great to support the talented makers in our areas,” Bussi said. “With fall coming up, our sweatshirts from Carleton Clothing, North Fork Design, and Hampton Trading Company have been selling very well. The really popular items would have to be locally-made soaps from White Field Farm and Southampton Soap.”

Walk toward the left for jewelry, edibles, bath products, and glasses. Toward the right, pick up wall décor or don your favorite shirt design. An astounding 45 merchants currently sell in the space, which is continuously growing as the months progress. Bussi seeks out new businesses regularly, with a special affinity for the uniquely presented.

“I am obsessed with a face scrub from East End Soap that leaves my face silky smooth and smelling like sugar. It’s nice to have somewhere to get some local goodies throughout the island,” Bussi admitted.

Visit to enjoy all the goodies our community, and beyond, have to offer. For you, for a friend, and especially for an out-of-towner looking for the perfect parting gift.

Call Taste the East End Boutique at 631-727-2686, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @Taste the East End.