If you’ve been making candles for more than a minute, you know that candles sell for much more than the cost of their materials, and the thought has probably crossed your mind that maybe you should start a candle-making business. But starting a business can seem overwhelming. So, what are the most important candle-making business essentials you need to start selling your own candles?
Making candles for sale is a top home business with low startup and production costs. Anyone can start a candle-making business with these five essentials:
Candle-making is a great business to start from home because candles are in high demand, are inexpensive to make, ship well, and have a long shelf life. You can get started in the candle-making business for less than $50 with the tools you already have in your kitchen, plus a pouring pitcher, a thermometer, scale, and a stirring stick. Additionally, you can buy the materials you need to make your first batch of candles for less than $20.
So, what do you need to do to start selling your own candles? Here are the five essentials to starting your own candle-making business. Focusing on these essentials will not only get your candle enterprise off the ground but put you well on your way to success.
The first thing you need to do to start selling your candles is determine your products. As you no doubt already know, candles come in a wide variety, from emergency candles to scented candles, pillar candles to molded candles to container candles. In what products are you going to specialize?
First, ask yourself, what can you make well? What sort of candles are in your wheelhouse, the ones your friends and neighbors most compliment?
If you have no idea what candles you make the best, you can do some informal research about this by finding honest friends or even entice strangers with free candles to evaluate your products and fill out a survey.
Here are some example questions you can ask for scented candles:
- How strong was the candle’s scent radius?
- Was the candle’s fragrance description accurate?
- Would you buy this in a store? Why or why not?
- How much would you pay for this candle?
- What other comments do you have about the candle’s design, burn time, or anything else?
The answers to these questions can help you perfect your products before selling them.
To make it easy to report and analyze results, consider using a survey platform like Survey Monkey, where you can set up an account and conduct basic research for free. You can test several candles to see which ones you should produce professionally.
You should also consider current consumer tastes when deciding what products to sell. Furthermore, you can use free tools like Google Trends to get basic data on popular search queries related to your potential products. For instance, if you entered “scented candles” as a search term, you would find a list of related terms that were frequently searched, like “baby powder candles.”
You can also read professional market research reports on the candle industry. These reports can cost thousands of dollars, but usually, there is a free or sample version of even the most expensive and highly sought-after reports.
This report by Verified Market Research is a terrific free resource that can help you better understand the candle industry. Even in its free form, the insights are incredible.
Next, you should determine the platform you plan to use to sell your products. You can sell your products online, at local venues, or both.
“Buy Local” is becoming the mantra of more and more people. People are attracted to buying local products because they generate a lower carbon footprint, making them environmentally friendly, sustainable options.
If you live in a small community, you may know the proprietors of local restaurants and gift shops, both of which can be ideal for placing your candle products. Expect to negotiate a commission of 10-25% with the owners of these establishments for them to sell your products on consignment.
If you have one, a local farmers’ market can be another great place to sell your candles. Both fees can be as low as $20 per day, and you will likely not have a lot of competition in the candle field. Candles nest nicely with the farmers’ market themes: family, food, and friendship.
You can also opt to sell your products online to reach a maximum customer base. This will involve setting up a website or registering with an online marketplace like Etsy’s Candle Store or Shopify’s Candle Market.
You can compare the pros and cons for yourself (I prefer Shopify’s ability to set up a professional storefront), but whichever you decide, choose one and stick to it. Too many businesses try to sell their products through multiple channels right away, but it does take some time and effort to learn each platform. Focus your energy on one and do it well.
Too many small business owners try to get away with starting a business without a license. I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but according to the Small Business Administration, your candle-making business should probably be licensed. Certainly, when you participate in most farmers’ markets, they will require you to have a business license.
And even if Etsy and Shopify might not require it, your enterprise could fall under the jurisdiction of your local municipality, county, or state.
How to Get a License
The best way to determine what licenses (if any) you will need is to contact your local municipality or city hall. You can also Google the information— “business license” + your city— and you will get immediate feedback on whether you are required to get a local business license.
Your local city website will likely indicate if you need a state business license and direct you appropriately. If it doesn’t, then make sure you check your state requirements as well. Candle businesses are not required to be federally licensed in the United States.
Insurance is another one of those candle-making business essentials that people perceive as being optional. Even if you think you don’t need candle insurance, you should consider getting it anyway. You want to protect yourself if an accident happens with one of your products, or you get sued for any reason.
Product Liability Insurance
Product liability insurance protects you if someone believes your product caused them harm. Maybe the candle shattered as it burned because of a defect, or they picked a candle up and burned themselves. This is the most important insurance a candlemaker needs.
General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance protects you if someone falls on your property or encounters another accident not specifically related to the product. If no one comes to your home to buy candles, you may think you won’t need this, but what if someone trips on your booth at a farmers’ market and sues? Liability insurance will cover your potential losses in this case.
Of course, it’s best to get a policy that includes both insurance types. Thimble is a company offering an all-in-one product for candlemakers that includes product and general liability insurance. They can quote prices online instantaneously and send you coverage certificates in seconds.
Ok, you are almost ready to open your awesome candle-making enterprise. Except for one thing. You need to build an inventory of products before you start selling.
Why Build an Inventory?
But you can just make the products as you sell them, right? Why should you build an inventory in advance?
First, because of candle curing times. Remember, you need to cure your candles for a specified period according to the wax. While paraffin only takes two days to cure, soy wax candles take two weeks. In today’s world of instant gratification, no one will want to wait weeks before receiving their candle.
Second, you won’t be able to keep up with demand. Even in a new business, orders come in spurts.
How Much Inventory?
If I were setting up a new candle business, I would start with a minimum inventory of 50 of each product type I intend to sell. If this seems like a lot, realize your hardest days will be the first days, so not worrying about having to produce the candles on demand will be one less worry. Plus, candles have a shelf life of two years.
After operating for a while, you will get an intuitive feel for how much inventory you should keep on hand, but you should also do some inventory forecasting. The formulas are not that difficult to find online, but your best bet is to use a free tool like this sales and inventory forecasting model from Intuit QuickBooks.
What about a business entity? Do I need an LLC? What about a corporation?
Whether you should form a business entity depends on many factors, but it isn’t something you need to do right away. You can check out this free resource on business entities by the United States Small Business Administration.
Do I need to make a business plan?
Writing a business plan is never a bad idea, but you don’t need to do it before starting your home-based business, unless you are planning to apply for a business loan. Check out this article by NerdWallet, which shows you how to write a business plan.
Looking to start your own candle making business check out my startup documents here
Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.
Meet Shawn Chun: Entrepreneur and Candle Business Fan.
I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.