Selling candles is one of the best home business ideas, because candle-making has low startup costs and overhead. But people are also starting new candle-making businesses every day. With all the enterprises out there, how can you ensure your candle-making business will stand out from all the rest?
Using sound business practices will help your candle-making business stand out. Follow these four steps for a successful candle making enterprise:
- Find a sustainable niche
- Design unique candles to suit customer demand
- Craft a quality product
- Choose appropriate distribution channels
This might sound like a lot, but if you follow this process, you can truly make your candle-making business stand out, which will help speed your way to significant profits!
Step 1: Find a Sustainable Niche
The first step in ensuring your candle making business stands out is to find a sustainable niche.
Blue Ocean Strategy
The best way to do this is to incorporate a blue ocean strategy. I find this principle helpful in getting any new business off the ground.
Think of yourself like a shark. Is it better to feast in a part of the ocean where lots of other sharks are hunting, or to find your own hunting grounds where there are no or only a few other sharks?
Of course, the answer is that it’s better to hunt where no one else is hunting, which is what it means to follow a blue ocean strategy. That way, you can maximize your profits because you won’t have as much competition.
The way to do this with your candle making business is to figure out what segments of candle consumers are under-served. In other words, what products are most in demand by customers, yet have the least amount of people fulfilling them.
Even if you don’t have the marketing research budget of a multi-million-dollar corporation, you can still do research on candle forums and online candle retail sites. You can also find emerging candle trends at Candles.org, like in this article.
Step 2: Design Unique Candles to Suit Customer Demand
Once you figure out what candles are currently most in demand, the next step is to design unique candles to suit customer tastes. Below are some things to keep in mind when designing candles to make your business stand out.
A crucial question you need to ask yourself is what kind of wicks you want to use in your candles. Many candle consumers might not know much about wicks, but you can differentiate yourself by designing your candle with wooden or hemp wicks.
Invented in 2001, wooden wicks are used in crackle candles. Crackle candles are named from the cracking sound they make as they burn—like the pleasant crackle of a fireplace. Since the inception of crackle candles, their popularity has grown exponentially and continues to do so today.
Another type of wick you should consider using in your candles for the purpose of differentiation are hemp wicks. Hemp wicks are also rising in popularity, particularly when used in beeswax candles. This is because many believe these candles are among the most sustainable and healthy candles out there.
Another factor to consider is what kind of wax you want to use in your candles. People who buy hand-crafted candles go through the effort and expense of doing so because they want something special. The wax you use in your candles is another way to differentiate your products.
Consider using natural waxes and natural wax blends in your hand-crafted candles to distinguish them. Natural waxes are popular with people who are willing to pay premium prices for candles, and they include soy wax, beeswax, and palm wax.
Soy wax is popular as a clean-burning fuel that is perfect for a long-lasting candle experience. It is the cheapest of the premium candle waxes and the most environmentally sustainable.
Beeswax emits a smooth honey aroma as it burns and has pleasant natural brown and yellow tones. If you use beeswax in your candles, you won’t have to worry about adding fragrances or dyes. Beeswax is perfect just the way it is, and people like it that way. Consider pairing this natural wax with a hemp wick.
Then there is palm wax. Palm wax is an exceptionally beautiful way to add unique textures to your candles. As it cools, palm wax assumes a visible crystalline structure, creating different patterns. Lone Star Candle Supply is an online distributor of palm oil blends that appear feathery and marble-like as they dry.
Step 3: Craft a Quality Product
Choosing the appropriate materials is a step in the right direction, but in order to make your candle business truly stand out, you need to craft a quality product.
Conduct Burn Tests
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of conducting burn tests every time you create a new product, including any time you change a candle recipe even slightly. You should also conduct burn tests periodically on all the recipes you use, just to make sure something hasn’t inadvertently changed with the raw materials you are using.
Burn tests are the number one tool to maintain quality control over your product. They are crucial to making sure your candle burns safely and has the designed effect.
Follow Regulatory Guidance
Did you know there are some regulations and guidance that stipulate how candles should be made? For instance, according to ATSM guidelines, candle flames should never be higher than 3 inches (7.5 centimeters)?
There are also recommended guidelines about how candles should be labeled for sale. Compliance Gate maintains a list of these guidelines you should follow if you are in the business of making quality candles.
Following this guidance has many benefits, not the least of which is the safety of your customers. But following these regulations also helps you present yourself and your products as a professional enterprise, another way to help your candle-making business stand out.
Step 4: Choose Appropriate Distribution Channels
The next step in creating a stand-out candle making business is to choose the right distribution channels. You want your products to reach your target audience.
There are three main online marketplaces to sell your own candles:
- Etsy has a well-deserved reputation for being the top destination for homemade goods, facilitating over a billion dollars in annual sales yearly. But their fees are also the highest, and you will encounter a lot of established competition on the platform, making it difficult for your candle-making business to stand out.
- Shopify is an alternative to Etsy where you will pay fewer fees. At Shopify, you will create your own online store. Included in the fees you pay are SEO tools that will help you optimize the online retail experience for your customers. With your own site, you also can distinguish yourself from your competitors, instead of just being another result in a long list of results.
- Amazon Handmade has a strict approval process, but there is no denying that many if not most people at least consult the largest online retailer in the world whenever they are shopping for a product. Selling on Amazon opens your market base to include people who are looking for any candles, not just homemade ones.
Local Farmers Markets
I have been very successful selling at farmers markets. These are the perfect venue for handmade candles, since shoppers are usually seeking to buy local products. It is also the best alternative way to get people to know you. Being in-person and relatable is an extremely valuable marketing tool, and it will only cost you a few hours a week.
Additionally, booth fees are typically low, usually in the range of $15-$20. Chances are, if you make quality products, you will make many multiples of that, unlike with online retailers where you will pay up to 25% of your revenue just for the privilege of using the site.
In my opinion, local farmers markets are the best way to find repeat customers. You can also get a pulse of customer demand in your geographic area and accommodate that. Farmers markets are a key platform for businesses to stand out, and they should be part of every candle seller’s portfolio.
Local Stores and Restaurants
Along the same lines, you may have some options to sell your candles at local gift shops and cafés. You can on either a wholesale or consignment basis, and that will probably be up to the business owner. Look for stores that match your product aesthetic, and don’t be hesitant to approach the owner to see if you can strike a deal for them to stock your products.
How many people use candles anyway? What is the demand?
According to the National Candle Association, 7 out of 10 U.S. households use candles. The size of the candle market has more than doubled since 2000 to over $3 billion today.
What is the most expensive candle in the world?
There’s no telling, but Gucci routinely sells candles that cost up to $700. With an estimated 60-hour burn time, it would cost you $11 for every hour you burn that candle. Make sure you trim the wick between use!
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.