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I’ve written a few articles about starting your own soy candle making business, but I haven’t done one that actually goes through step by step what you need to do to get your candle making business started, from scratch, right from the beginning. In this post I am going to go through the first stages of starting your home candle business and hopefully by the end of this post, you will have enough info to get your business going.
When I first started my soy candle making business, I just kind of jumped right in. I hadn’t done much testing of my candles, I just bought a kit off of eBay and I liked it, and within a month, I had my website up.
Now, it is good to have the attitude like I did and just go for it once you’re ready, but I would definitely do a few things differently if I were to start all over.
So let’s just jump right in to each step starting with step 1
Buy Supplies And Make Some Candles!
If you haven’t already tried making some soy candles, then you really need to buy some supplies and try making a few first to see how you like it. You definitely don’t want to spend the time planning your candle making business if you don’t even know if you’ll enjoy making the candles in the first place!
I would recommend going with a kit since it is usually more cost effective and you’ll get everything you need to start making your soy candles. I bought my first kit off of eBay and it turned out great but if the seller doesn’t specify on the listing what type/brand of soy wax, wicks and fragrance oil, then you should ask. Then, if it works really well for you, you will know what type of supplies you might want to look for when you start buying from a supplier.
I already mentioned eBay, but here are some links to suppliers that sell candle making kits:
You can use the recipes on my site, but remember that the container candle recipes are specifically for 100% soy container wax. There are other soy container waxes such as Ecosoya Xcel or Golden Brands 464 wax that may not work as well with pouring at 100 degrees F. So if you try one of those waxes, you should use their specific instructions for melting and pouring the wax first. I will eventually add information on this site about best heating and pouring temps for specific waxes once I have tested them all.
So, once you have made a few candles for yourself and done some testing to find the right recipe for your candles, go ahead and make some for friends and family and ask that they give you honest feedback about how they smell and burn. If that goes well, then move on to the next phase, otherwise fine tune your candles to fix any issues such as smoking, soot, wick mushrooming, weak fragrance throw, too much frost, etc. (don’t expect to get 100% soy candles frost free 100% of the time. You may just have to hit them up with the blow dryer or heat gun occasionally if you get some that don’t look quite as pretty! But don’t obsess about it if it isn’t that bad). See my FAQ section for answers to many of the issues above.
Ready to move on?
Inventory or Made to Order?
When I was selling my candles, I usually made them to order, in fact, I kind of prided myself in doing that…..that is, until I started getting more and more orders. The thing is, is it really that important to make your candles totally fresh? Well, not really. In fact many times letting them sit longer can actually make for a stronger smelling candle. Of course, with soy wax, if you let them sit too long, they will eventually start to frost and the color possibly start to fade.
On a positive note to making your candles to order, you don’t have excess candles sitting around that aren’t selling. At the same time, if you keep an inventory of candles, you could use those extra candles for promotions from time to time.
If I were to start selling candles again, I would go the inventory route. I’d make several of each type of candle I want to sell and have a nice shelf for them to sit on, ready to be packed and shipped at a moments notice. I would set aside a day or two a week (give or take) just to make some inventory, depending on how much I’m selling, and that way I don’t have to worry about making candles every single time someone orders!
What Kind and How Many to Start?
Next, you need to ask yourself what kind of candles do you want to start out with? Do you want to do container candles? If so, what type of containers? (Mason jars, regular canning jars, teacups, metal tins, coffee mugs, wine glasses, other decorative glasses, Libby jars/bowls/etc……….). Below is a list of soy candle ideas for you that you could use to start your product line:
- Mason Jar candles are popular for rustic themes
- Libbey glass containers. They have all sorts of styles. Can be great for more of a modern style
- Status Jars
- Apothacary jars
- Metal tins
- Coffee mugs
- Wine glasses
- Melts/tarts. You can do all sorts of shapes with these if you find some molds of the right size such as ice cube trays or jello molds, etc….. You can also do the standard tarts or use the the clamshell tart molds (similar to Scentsy bricks)
- Sliceable Soy Wax Loaves – Find this recipe in my book (customer slices off pieces to use in their tart melter)
- Candle loaves or pies (using pie tins or loaf tins you can get at the Dollar Tree and use multiple wicks)
- Pillar candles (must use a soy pillar blend wax)
It would be best to start off small. So if you know you want to do more than just container candles, then maybe start with container candles and votives or containers, votives and melts. If you are wanting to specialize in more decorative, unique candles, then I would focus on only those at first until you get a good system down. For example, Chunk Candles take quite a bit more time than just regular container candles, and the same goes for Swirl candles, layered candles and if you’re using whipped wax toppings (all 3 of those recipes are in my soy candle making book)
Once you figure out what you want to specialize in first, you need to decide on what fragrances you want to start out with.
Now candles are a very “seasonal” product, so you need to consider that when choosing your first few fragrances if you want to start out well. I would choose a couple tried and true “classics” such as good old Vanilla. Below is a list of some “classic” candle scents that do well year round:
- Clean Cotton or similar scent
- Coconut type scents
- Apple Pie
- Ocean type scents
Those are some classic ones you see in stores pretty much year round. You will also want to find some for whatever season you are in.
For example, right now as I’m writing this, it is nearing the end of Summer. School is starting and people are beginning to think about Fall and Winter and all the holidays that fall into that (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.). So right now, I would want to start getting some of those types of fragrances into my lineup.
You can get a good idea of what’s popular at certain times of the year by going to stores in your area and taking a look at what fragrance of candles they have on their shelves! Especially stores like Walmart or Fred Meyer, larger chains like that, because you KNOW that they do put a lot of thought and research into what people want and what sells. It would also be a good idea to do some research on the Yankee Candle website as well as Scentsy.
That doesn’t mean you have to sell exactly those types of fragrances, but it might be a good idea to include a few of them or similar ones, especially at first. Maybe put your own spin on a popular fragrance this time of year such as Pumpkin Pie. I made some Pumpkin Nog candles one year and they did fairly well. I really liked them! I just mixed Pumpkin Pie fragrance oil with Eggnog fragrance oil and Whala! 🙂
So anyway, you just want to have as many fragrances as you can handle at first. Don’t try to be the one that has them all, like I did! You end up having someone order a fragrance that hardly ever sells, and then if you’re out of that fragrance oil, you have to order some from your supplier just for one customer!! That doesn’t work well with your profit margin. So, just don’t do it lol
Play it smart and get really good at marketing the few candles that you start with before gradually adding more.
So, now your going to ask “But how many fragrances should I start with?”. Well, that really depends, but if I were to give a number, I would say start with around 6 fragrances give or take a few. Use a couple classic fragrances, some seasonal and maybe one or two more unique fragrances.
The key to success in any business is to figure out what makes YOU and your product stand out from the rest and really work with that. Do a little research and take a look at different soy candle web stores and just think about what makes you different? And it doesn’t have to be the candles themselves, except maybe the quality of them, because when I had my little candle business growing, even though I wasn’t marketing it much, I really wasn’t selling any “special” kind of candles. I mean others were selling mason jar candles too, and probably a lot of the same scents. Now this was online. Offline, I didn’t have hardly any competition in my town, or even in the state, so I had people in the area and friends and family as pretty regular customers.
But, as well as looking at what makes you stand out from these other candle companies, also look at what they seem to be doing right and what seems to be working for them. That can be hard to tell, but if you can find some reviews from people, or comments people are making, say on the companies’ Twitter page or Facebook page, then you can get some excellent insight into what people like and don’t like. You can also find out what you can do to fulfill those needs and what not to do by learning from any negative feedback that company might have.
So before my next post on starting your candle making business, I want you to think about how you can stand out, and get started on the steps above if you haven’t already.
Starting a Candle Making Business- What Next?
Leave a comment below if you have any questions or more tips that I didn’t mention in this post!