People have been making candles for thousands of years and are still finding ways to innovate. From recently discovered waxes and wicks to creative designs, there are endless features you can add to your candles. With so many other people making candles, how can you make candle designs that stand out from the rest?
Candlemakers can take several steps to ensure their candle designs stand out from what is typical in the field.
The following activities can help candle producers get inspired to craft stand-out designs:
- Attending conferences
- Joining candle groups
- Conducting research
- Innovating designs
Everyone gets stuck in a rut sometimes but taking these steps can help broaden your horizons and help keep your candle design ideas fresh and original.
Step 1: Attending Candle Conferences
From science to business, one great way of staying on top of new ideas and trends is to attend industry conferences. Even being around people with similar interests in candle making can stimulate your own creative process. Here are some great candle conferences for you to think about attending:
World Candle Congress
The World Candle Congress occurs only every three years, so make sure you attend at your earliest opportunity. This conference offers access to candle suppliers, candle manufacturers, and other networking opportunities. You will also have an opportunity to attend technical discussions to learn about the latest candle making techniques.
The NCA Annual Conference and Expo
The NCA Annual Conference and Expo bills itself as the “premier US candle industry event.” This conference offers attendees the chance to hear from candle industry experts and conduct in-person networking with suppliers. The conference also includes casual recreational activities including golf.
You can also use this conference as an opportunity to attend the annual ASTM meeting, where you can find out about international standards and practices in candle manufacturing. Knowing these guidelines is especially important if you are in the business of candle making. If you can only go to one candle conference in your lifetime, make it this one.
Step 2: Joining Candle Groups
Let’s face it, if all you do to learn about candle making is watching YouTube videos, you could be missing out on learning the latest professional techniques that can take your candle designs to the next level.
National Candle Association
In the United States, the National Candle Association is a trade association both for candle makers and their suppliers. Headquartered in Washington DC, they claim to be a leading technical authority on candle design and safety.
Check out their member list, and you will find every reputable candle manufacturer and supplier you can think of. Joining the National Candle Association gives you access to their testing laboratories and small-group workshops to learn the latest candle-making design innovations.
Adopting new techniques can help you make your candle designs stand out.
Candle Enthusiast Groups
Besides trade associations, you can also check out local groups geared toward candle making as a hobby or a business. While there are plenty of online groups dedicated to candle making, I find in-person groups better for creative ideas.
You can check out upcoming Candle Making Meetups, which are available all over the world. These groups are great for learning new tips and sharing some of your own.
Be sure to check these groups out not just in your hometown, but also when you are traveling. Who knows? You might be the first to introduce an innovative technique you learned about in Mumbai, India to candle making enthusiasts in your area!
Step 3: Conducting Research
In addition to group activities with fellow candlemakers, like conferences and meetup groups, you should also research the latest candle making trends to keep your candle designs original and unique.
Read Market Reports
Reading market reports can be a top way to find out about the latest design trends. Being caught up on the latest candle making intelligence can help you know what is selling well and in demand.
You can also incorporate this information in your own candle designs, often before it becomes mainstream. Being on the leading edge of the market will help make your candle designs stand out from the same candles people have been making year after year.
For instance, according to this market analysis by Grand View Research, recently invented “twisted” candles are popular due to their offbeat design and vibrant colors.
Markey analysis reports can also give you regional insights to find out what is popular in a specific geographical area. This will help you design a candle that is not only popular but also underserved within a specific market, virtually guaranteeing consistent sales against reduced competition.
Conduct Your Own Survey
In addition to reading candle industry market analysis, you can also conduct your own research. Using surveys, you can request feedback on your planned techniques to avoid wasting time, effort, and money on candle designs that turn out not to be popular.
Pollfish is one such venue for conducting your own market research. For instance, let’s say you had an idea for creating a monkey-shaped candle. The monkey would wear a shirt that says, “You’re making me bananas” and the candle itself would smell like bananas. You have an idea that this kind of candle might be popular with college-aged adults, but you aren’t sure.
You can conduct a survey to see if people would be willing to buy these candles and how much they would be willing to pay for them, information that is invaluable in helping you decide the feasibility of a new candle design.
Step 4: Innovate New Designs
The number one way to make your candle designs stand out from all the rest is to innovate your own new designs. The best way to do this is to come up with a design idea that no one has brought to market yet.
One way to stimulate your creativity is to have a brainstorming session. Use a whiteboard or piece of paper to write down every idea that comes into your head. Don’t censor yourself at this stage in the process. It is important to document every idea, no matter how ridiculous it seems at first blush.
You can ask friends to help you flesh out some of these ideas and help you figure out which ones are worth pursuing.
The banana-scented monkey candle idea? That was a result of a brainstorming session I did on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have thought about monkeys and candles together, except for my niece who had a birthday party the day before and the theme was monkeys.
Look for Inspiration in Unexpected Places
In any artistic endeavor, including candle designs, always keep an open mind. Be ready for inspiration to strike anywhere. Keep pen and paper with you to jot down new ideas, or you can type a note to yourself in your phone.
Like bacon-flavored cupcakes were to desserts, tomato-scented candles were an unexpected development in the candle industry. Until that point, many people stayed away from savory scents like tomatoes in candle-making, opting instead for floral or sweet-smelling scents. Now candles with the aroma of tomatoes is becoming more and more popular.
The first person to innovate a tomato-scented candle was likely walking in a garden or an Italian kitchen and thought to themselves that tomato might make a good candle aroma. And voilà! A new trend in candle making was born, all because the originator was open to inspiration and willing to try new ideas.
Seek Out the Nostalgia Effect
Not everything that is popular needs to smell or look good, at least not according to what is classically considered pleasing to the senses. Why is 80s nostalgia so popular now despite the ugly clothes and even crazier hairstyles?
It’s because seeing things from our distant past often evokes a wistfulness for earlier, simpler times. Candles are the perfect nostalgic vehicle for nostalgia because they already hearken back to times when it needed them for light. Candles also put us into a relaxed state of mind, which is the perfect state of mind to be nostalgic about one’s past.
You can buy this burnt tire rubber candle for only $16 from Lebanon Candle Co. To most people, burnt rubber smells terrible, so why would anyone want to buy a candle smelling of it?
Possibly someone might buy this candle as a joke, but more likely, they would buy it for a car enthusiast or maybe a racing fan. Lebanon Candle Co also has candles that smell like motor oil, and exhaust gas, so if you have someone who loves everything about cars in your life, consider buying them on of these candles, so they can take the smell of an automotive repair shop home with them.
Figuring out other weird things that make people feel nostalgic can help your candle designs stand out. Wonder if anyone has ever made a wet dog scented candle?
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I trademark or copyright a candle design?
Yes, but it needs to be distinctive. Play-Doh managed to secure a trademark for its unique smell in 2018. You may also be able to copyright certain aspects of your candle’s design, such as the name of a scent or mold you created for your candle.
What are tarts in candle making?
Candle tarts, also known as wax melts, are a type of candle without a wick that is usually heated by an electric wax warmer. Candle tarts can be excellent for use in places where open flames are not allowed, such as dorms and workplaces.
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.