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Petra Nemcova on Time Traveling by Candelight, Czech Cookies

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 Photos: Courtesy of Be the Light NY
Photos: Courtesy of Be the Light NY

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Czech model, philanthropist, and newly minted candle-maker Petra Nemcova will stop by Bloomingdale's Medinah Home Store tomorrow. From 1 to 4 p.m., you can chat with Nemcova about anything from alpaca eye masks to her work building schools around the world—but we asked her a few questions first. Here's what the gracious beauty had to say about holiday cookies, fabulous Czech phrases, and plunking down $98 on a candle.

I am fascinated with Czech Republic. Can you teach me a phrase that "fashion people" use there?
When you visit the Czech Republic, you can use the phrase "Vypadáš krásně," which means, "You look beautiful." If you want to be cool, you can say, "To ti sekne!"

What aspects of your culture did you incorporate into your candles? Are there certain scents that remind you of home?
One candle we've incorporated that reminds me of home is the Czech Holiday Cookie. It was inspired by my favorite Czech tradition, which is cookie-baking before the Christmas holiday. The whole family comes together to bake cookies that are glued together with jam.

Lovely! What's your favorite thing to do by candlelight?
Time travel. When I was a child, I used to stare into candles, and it would bring me back to my childhood, when I would stare into candles at my grandfather's place. The sense of smell is the fastest way to your memories, more than any of the other senses, so it is a kind of time travel. Now when I light Be The Light NY candles, I time travel to magical countries that I've visited, such as Spain, Indonesia, and Haiti.

The candles are stunning, but, ahem: they are a bit on the pricey end. What would you say to someone who's hesitant to spend $98 on a candle?
There are many special things about these candles, like the beautiful gift box. We've also included matches, and the big, 16oz soy wax candle comes with three wicks to provide a more even burn. The candle vessels are done by artisans in America where it takes four to five days to apply hand-drawn maps on colored glass. The map is baked into the glass and nothing can scratch it—only diamond could. As it it done by hand, each candle is like a snowflake, almost the same but each is unique.

I love the name of the line, "Be The Light." What does phrase this mean to you?
It's all about bringing light and positivity to people's homes and lives.

What, apart from candles, brings the most light into your life?
Children's laughter, warm sun rays on my skin, peaceful meditation, and time with my loved ones.

You have modeled for so many brands, from Victoria's Secret to La Perla and Cartier. What's the wildest thing that's happened on a photo shoot?
Once on a photo shoot by the ocean, we saw couple walk on the beach. A wave took the lady, and she started to drown under strong current. While her husband tried to help her, he started to go under, too. The assistant of the photographer had to run to rescue them, and he was able to. If he hadn't been there, it would have been bad. This was strong reminder what a gift life is.
· Bloomingdale's [Official Site]
· Be The Light NY [Official Site]
· Happy Hearts Fund [Official Site]

Bloomingdale's Medinah Home Store

600 North Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL