Over the past 8 years, we have learned alot about the candlemaking industry, and we have learned the essentials of running a successful business. It is our desire to share what we have learned with our customers so that our customers do not make the very same mistakes that we have made.
1. Take Baby Steps- When you start your own candle making business, start by buying a small candle kit. Nature's Garden sells candle kits for only $25 each, and the kits will teach you how to make candles, and will allow you to see if you like making candles without spending much money. You may find that candlemaking is not for you, or you may find that candlemaking is the perfect business for you. The important thing is that you don't invest alot of money in the beginning.
2. Watch Your Overhead- We always made candles in the basement of our home, as opposed to renting a place for production. The money that we saved on rent expenses was more wisely spent on inventory. Simply put, inventory is an asset; Expenses dwindle away at your profit margin. Another good thing about making candles in your home as opposed to making them in a commercial building is that your utility bills will be approximately 1/2 the amount. Although this may appear to be very cheap, we also initially spent very little money on equipment. We used clean coffee cans for mixing and heating our wax mixtures, and eventually purchased electric roasters for about $50 a piece at a discount store. The point we would like to make here is that you will find expensive melters on the market for $500-$600 a piece, but you can save money by using the electric roasters. One of our customers made a wax melter out of an old hot water tank. We have seen customers use their own innovation to create equipment without spending any money. If you are innovative, or you know someone innovative, see if they can help you save money on your equipment costs.
3. Limited Product Line- When you start your business, be careful not to over-extend yourself on your product line. You will have customers ask you to carry every fragrance under the sun, but be careful not to carry too many all at once. We started with 10 fragrances, and we offered 10 oz. apothecary container candles, 16 oz. apothecary container candles, flowerpot container candles, and votives. Until you have a good clientele, be careful not to spend too much money on your inventory supplies. You should also know that fragrance oil does have a shelf life (until they are used in candles). In order to be certain that your candles will be the strongest, you should buy just enough fragrance that you will be able to use within 3-4 months. The average shelf life of fragrance oils is 6 months to 1 year. At this point, the fragrance oil may become rancid or lose potency. The main purpose of starting off with a small product line is so that you can notice a profit earlier.
4. Giving your company a Professional Look- You will need to decide a name for your company, and the look and feel of your company. You can make your own professional-looking labels by using a software program called Printmaster Gold or Printmaster Platinum. Printmaster has a great feature for label-making that has a list of every Avery Label that is on the market. Initially you can buy blank sheets of Avery labels to make your labels. Once you have your labels saved on your hard drive, we suggest buying the same sized labels from Quill or Viking Office Products. You will save money this way. Printmaster will also allow you to make flyers, brochures, postcards, business cards, and letterhead...to name a few. The program costs about $35 at Best Buys. When you get to the point that you desire to have your company catalog done by a professional, we highly suggest a company named Megacolor in Florida. They do excellent work at very reasonable prices! You will also want to make sure that the business name that you have chosen has not already been trademarked in your state or federally. In Ohio, you will want to contact the secretary of state office in Columbus, Ohio to check for name availability. If you are unsure of who to contact in your state, or if you need more guidance with business questions, you may also want to contact your local Chamber of Commerce.
5. Selling your initial Products- Most initial sales are to people you know. If you have products that are superior to store-bought products, word-of-mouth spreads fast! Have your friends mention your products at their place of employment (give them flyers). Pass your business cards out to everyone you see (the bank, the gas station, restaurants, grocery stores, department stores, church, and other gatherings). Sell your products on Ebay, offer Fundraisers to schools or other organizations, and try your hand at Home Parties. Many people sell their products at craft shows or flea markets. Donate some of your products to local fundraisers (we use to donate baskets of candles to a local school so that they could auction it off for money).
6. Know Your Zoning Laws- Before starting your own business, it is wise to check with your building department/zoning inspector to find out if they consider it LEGAL for you to operate a business out of your home. In most towns, as long as your business is small enough, you can operate a business out of your home after you pay for a Home Occupation License. However, if your business grows to the point where it no longer abides by the restrictions set forth by a "Home Occupation License", it is wise to find a commercially-zoned building to operate your business in. If your zoning inspector finds out that you are conducting your business illegally on residential property, they can make you close your business, or mandate that you move your business to one which is located on commercial property.