Have you got an undying love for all things hygge, candles included?
Candle-making is not just a fun pastime, it can easily be turned into a fast-growing small business.
The global scented candle market was worth $533.5 million in 2020 and is expected to keep growing for the foreseeable future. There’s no better time to get busy creating unique candles under your own brand name.
Starting a candle-making business has many pros, including:
- It’s easy to start and sell anywhere and everywhere
- There’s a high-demand market with a big crafter community
- It’s scalable and easy to customize to suit your niche
Itching to get going yet? Our step-by-step candle-making business guide gives you the tools and knowledge to become the next big name next to Yankee Candle.
6 easy steps to a successful candle-making business
Setting and running your own candle business isn’t as hard as you might think.
Sure, you can commit to making candles from scratch and from local, organic ingredients, if that fits your business plan.
Whether you want to run a full-blown candle business, or simply make some extra cash from your homemade candles, selling candles isn’t as hard as you might think.
1. Research your target market and define your candle business niche
Like with any business, you need to start by understanding what you’re selling, why it’s unique from the competition, and who is going to buy your product.
Candle-making, in general, can be tailored for mass production, mid-market, or high-end market.
Mass-produced candles are usually cheaper to make in bulk quantities with a manufacturing partner, and are often sold for a cheaper price and distributed widely. Most tea lights and plain candles that you can find in supermarkets, gift shops, and department stores are usually mass-produced and aimed at the general market.
When selling candles for the mid-market, you need to find the balance between unit pricing and producing costs. Companies that produce scented candles or use fragrance oils, for example, could be considered as serving the mid-market.
As for the high-end market, most candle businesses rely on specialty ingredients and craftsmanship that justify a higher price point. A homemade candle business would be an example of a candle brand targeting the high-end market share.
In order to understand where your brand fits in the candle-making industry, you have to know what is going to make your candle business unique from the rest.
Think about things like:
- What are your candles made of?
- Who’s going to be buying your candles and why?
- What makes your products different from others on the market?
- Where will your candles be made?
2. Create and build your brand
Once you have a clear idea of what you’ll be selling, and who will be buying, it’s time to think about your brand.
You need to come up with a business name, that also works as a domain for your website and online store. You will also need to determine the look and feel of your business – at the least, you need a logo, a brand color or two, and settle on a font that you will be using.
It might also help to create a brand story for your business. This way, you’ll have a clear narrative of who you are, where you’re coming from, and what you want to achieve in the future.
If your candle-making business focuses on scented candles, and you love the seaside, why not create short stories around each of the unique scents in your candles.
Maybe they are inspired by something that happened to you in your childhood, or by a nautical-themed book?
3. Work on your business plan and budget
Next, it’s time to think about money.
Even if you’re not looking for external funding, having a business plan and a budget helps you see the bigger picture of your business, and make decisions that support your company in the future.
A good business plan is an important tool for many reasons:
- It helps you understand the overall process it takes to make your idea into a product that actually sells
- Since you will be looking at potential risks your company could face, you’re less likely to get caught off guard when there’s a dip in the market
- You can plan into the future, and set yourself goals and milestones in order to stay motivated
- Many investors, banks, and sometimes even government officials require you to have one, making you look put together, trustworthy and professional
Since making candles usually requires spending some money upfront before you have a product to sell, taking the time to create (and, more importantly, stick to) a budget can make or break your business.
Budgets help you understand the number of sales your company has, its costs (from set-up costs to shipping and production cost, and so on), as well as the overall profits (the money that’s left after you’ve covered all your costs).
3. Apply for business licenses, permits, and insurance
Depending on where you are in the world, you might be required to register for state and local business permits and check whether you need to have a business license to sell candles in your area.
Your best place for advice is your local chamber of commerce, or a local start-up and small business association.
Most candle makers also explore the various insurance requirements for small businesses to help prepare for the unexpected. After all, you’re dealing with a product that literally catches on fire.
Especially if you’re planning to hire employees, you need to make sure you have the right business insurance policies in place. Most countries also require businesses with employees to register as an employer and get the relevant paperwork in place before you start hiring.
When thinking about the legal makeup of your company, you generally have to choose from 4 different organizational structures.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business since it consists of one person (in this case, you) who manages the whole business themselves. It’s the lightest form of business structure when it comes to taxes, too.
On the other hand, a partnership agreement is perfect for two or more people who want to run a business with simple legal makeup. Similar to a sole proprietorship, a partnership agreement doesn’t exist as a separate legal entity from its owners, meaning that the taxation rules are lighter.
Opting for a limited liability company (an LLC for short) is recommended for businesses that expect and want to scale and grow fast. As an LLC is a legal business entity in its own right, if anything happens to the business, the owners’ personal finances and other assets are not on the line. On the other hand, expect to deal with much more paperwork when you’re running an LLC.
You can also set up a corporate structure for your business. It is worth noting that this process is expensive and complex, and only viable if you have the resources to hire attorneys to lend you a hand. If you’re expecting to mass-produce your products or sell on a larger scale multinationally, and have the starting capital, it’s a good option to consider.
4. Design and make the candles
Next, we’re moving to the true bread and butter of how to start a candle business.
Once your company has been set up on paper, it’s time to start thinking about the candle-making itself.
To get started, you need to find your suppliers, decide on the types of candles you want to make and sell, and think about things like inventory management, needed materials, and so on.
Deciding on your candle type
The types of candles and waxes you decide to use depend primarily on your niche and your target audience.
Pillar candles are self-standing candles that won’t require a container. Most commonly, paraffin, beeswax, and palm wax are used to make pillars, but you can also use a wax blend for a successful product.
Container candles, as the name suggests, are candles that are made inside a glass or metal jar. They might come with or without a lid, giving you plenty of options for different product variations. Due to the fact that container candles are not required to stand on their own, you can use many different waxes and wax blends, from soy wax to paraffin, palm wax, beeswax, and soy and paraffin wax blends.
Votive candles are small candles designed to be used in separate votive containers, making them a non-freestanding candle type. Thanks to this, you can use soft, natural waxes for these kinds of candles.
Tealights are small, round container candles that sit in a metal or clear plastic container. Most waxes are suitable for making tealights.
Taper candles are the long, narrow candles that you find on candlesticks and dinner tables. Because tapered candles need to be quite sturdy and keep their shape, most candle makers use paraffin and beeswax.
Tarts or wax melts are wick-less candles that are primarily burned for their scent. Tarts are placed on a burner and slowly burned or melted. Both paraffin and natural waxes can be used for making wax melts.
Gel candles are soft container candles with a gooey consistency. Most commonly, gel candles are made from a specialized mineral oil based gel instead of wax.
Choosing your candle wax
Paraffin wax is probably the most common and widely used wax around, due to its low price and high customizability. Paraffin can hold various different fragrances and colors, and has different melt points, making it a popular wax for mass production of almost any type of candle. Unfortunately, as paraffin is the byproduct of oil, it’s not the most eco-friendly wax out there.
Soy wax burns slowly without costing too much, making it a great wax choice for candle businesses targeting the mid-market. Since it’s made from soybeans, it’s a great wax for an environmentally conscious candle-making business – just make sure you’re aware of the origin of your wax. Soy wax isn’t the most beginner-friendly wax to work with, due to its sensitivity to different temperatures. It also won’t hold much fragrance, so it’s not the top choice for heavily scented candle-making.
Beeswax has been around since time immemorial, and as a byproduct of honey, it’s an eco-friendly wax option. As it’s relatively hard and solid, it’s often used in wax blends for both pillar and container candles. Beeswax has a distinct and subtle aroma to it, due to its organic background.
Coconut wax is a new wax on the block, harvested from coconuts. This wax has skyrocketed in popularity due to its clean-burning properties and the way it holds color and fragrance well. But like all good things in life, good quality usually costs more – and compared to other waxes, coconut wax comes with a heftier price tag than most, making it an ideal ingredient for luxury candles.
Wax blends are commonly used by manufacturers to keep costs at bay and combine different properties of different waxes. The candle industry is flooded with different types of blends, so it’s not a bad idea to stop by your local craft store for a short introduction to wax blends.
What wax you use depends on things like:
- The types of candles you want to make
- How big your budget is
- How environmentally conscious you are
- Whether you want to make scented or unscented candles
It’s important to remember that wax alone doesn’t make or break the candle. You need to also consider the grade of the fragrance you’re using, the properties of your wick material, as well as the container or vessel needed.
Together they determine the quality of your product: how well it burns, how vibrant the color is, how it smells, how easy or difficult your candles are to photograph, and so on.
5. Create an online store for your candle-making business with Zyro
Now that you have a solid business plan, a budget, a new business bank account, and some products to sell, it’s time to create your own website for your business.
Selling online has many benefits over traditional brick-and-mortar stores:
- You can be open 24/7. An online store can be open around the clock, every day of the year. Unlike traditional high street shops, you don’t need to have employees behind the till to make money, either.
- You’re not tied to a particular geographical location. Live in a rural area with few people? No worries, an online store helps you reach people around the world, as long as you have a shipping partner who can deliver the products to far-flung places.
- You’ll save on physical costs like rent, property tax, and electricity. While there are some costs involved with online stores (things like domain names, web hosting, or a website builder plan), you’re looking at forking out between $20-$50 a month. Chances are that a brick-and-mortar store’s utilities alone would be more than that, not to mention the store rent.
Unless you’re setting up a big multinational corporation and own a couple of manufacturing plants, chances are that a website building tool has everything you need from creating your online shop to tracking orders.
The beauty of tools like Zyro is that you simply choose a ready-made website template, customize it to match your brand, create your inventory, and you’re done.
No need to teach yourself to code, or pay hefty fees for external help. And thanks to the powerful AI tools and eCommerce dashboard, you can manage all aspects of your business from one place.
6. Develop your marketing plan
After your online store is ready, it’s time to think about how your target customers will find you and your candle line.
The best method for your candle-making business depends on your target market and product line.
To figure out how you should approach your marketing strategy, ask yourself these questions:
- Who you are hoping to be selling candles to?
- Where (a website, app, or platform) do your target markets spend most of their time online?
- How much money you can afford to spend on your marketing campaigns?
- How quickly are you expecting to see results?
- How do you want to measure the success of your marketing efforts?
- Which platforms or digital marketing methods are you familiar with or interested in learning more about?
Ideally, you want to be advertising your business in the channels your buyers are frequently spending time on. For instance, there’s no point in putting all your efforts into a wow-worthy email marketing campaign, if your email list is small and your potential customers are notoriously known for hanging out on social media platforms like TikTok, instead.
Pro tip – Many candle makers create a successful business around the business owner alone. Personal branding and sharing stories from behind the scenes of your candle-making process help you build authenticity and trust with their audiences.
Once you have a following on social media, it’s much easier to turn craft fairs, local craft shows, and other real-life events into places to connect with and sell directly to repeat customers.
Roll up your sleeves and start your candle-making business
Dipping your toes into the world of candle business can be both fun and rewarding if you’re willing to do your homework.
By doing your market research for your initial product line, you can start taking pre-orders of your own candle products before you’re even finished with the first batch.
That’s why starting a candle-making business online is not just a great low-cost business idea, but it can help you reach a wider audience than you ever could by getting your products into the local grocery store.
Needless to say – are you ready to start your eCommerce journey?