November 01, 2003

How Much Is Enough?

Welcome to the En-light-ener, Candlewic's newsletter for the candle making community. We'd like to thank you for your continued interest in this newsletter. If you have any suggestions for topics you would like to have us write about, please send them.

How Much Is Enough?
Every candle maker has struggled with the difficult decision on deciding how many different candles and accessories to offer in his or her product line. In fact, research by the National Candle Association suggests that larger U.S. candle manufacturers will typically offer between 1,000 and 2,000 varieties in their candle lines. If you have ever wrestled with this decision in your operation or if your business is currently growing, this article may be just for you.

We have all been there at some point – customers asking for more and more types of new scents while you have a few on the shelf that haven’t sold since you started making candles (but luckily you used UV absorber and they are still sellable). Although having a wide assortment of fragrances is a great way to attract and maintain customers, there is a threshold that every candle maker hits where they spend more time juggling fragrances and less time doing what they enjoy – creating new and unique candles.

There are other options available besides juggling 100’s of fragrances. One option is to break out of the container philosophy and branch into other types of candles. By offering more styles of candles that use your current fragrances, you can attract new customers with minimal equipment investment. Some other options are freestanding pillar candles, votives, tea lights, tapers, novelty molded candles, and floating candles just to name a few. Often there are times where one type of wax can do multiple types of products.

Candle makers are finding value in adding other types of products that compliment candles as well. Candleholders, accessories, and other scented pleasures are a great way to bundle products and share common themes. Gift baskets with assorted themes work great in creating extra value to your customers. A mixture of same-scent candles, lotions, and soaps can create exciting baskets. By offering attractive, well made gift certificates, you can please your current customers and gain others. Just be sure to create your gift certificate in such a fashion that somebody would be proud to give as a gift.

Hand poured soaps are a natural compliment to any line of candles.
 

Another excellent and easy way to build a new customer base is to offer hand poured soaps. Melt and pour soaps are actually very easy to produce and easily mesh into your current product line. The best part about soap is that often times you can use the same scent as your current candles and soap does not require nearly as much fragrance per pound as candles require. Just be sure to verify the scent you are using is “skin safe”. See Chandler’s section of the website to see how incredibly easy it is to make soap. In the event you happen to be at a festival or craft show with multiple candle makers, soap can be a great way to differentiate your booth from the rest of the vendors who may not offer more than one or two types of candles.

Candle makers are finding the power of branding their candles as well. Branding your candles works for you in many ways. Although many experts argue the true meaning of the term “brand”, the basic benefits of a branded candle can easily be boiled down to the term “recognition”. Once your customers start to recognize your logo or name, they start to attribute that recognition to certain qualities that your candles possess. Keep in mind, this can work for, or against you, depending on your candle and the way it burns. Some brands are known for their excellent burn, some for their low price, and some for their creativity. You can create multiple brands that target each of these consumers as opposed to trying the “one candle fits all” approach. With careful monitoring of your brands, you can add and remove an entire line of candles quite easily based on the profit each brand produces. You can also remove the brand and liquidate slow moving candles at reduced prices without harming your existing price structure.

CHANDLERS CORNER

Hi! I'm Chandler!
I can help you
learn how to make candles.

How Does Chandler Figure Out Tough Challenges?

New products and technologies are introduced on a regular basis. Once in a while a candle maker will run into a challenge during a late night pouring session, or while I am off traveling the world on weekends looking for new and exciting products. These are the times when you need answers most, but there is nobody awake you can call. There is good news. Most times the answer is in your very own hands, and you do not even realize it. There are two factors to concentrate on – temperature and variables.

It is amazing how pouring and heating temperatures can dramatically affect the appearance of your candle. Check all your ingredients and make sure you are following the manufacturers suggestions on temperatures. Some additives need higher temperatures to fully incorporate, while others may have restrictions on how hot they can be heated.


An accurate thermometer is an essential tool.
 

The other things to note are the variables. Try removing different ingredients one at a time in order to see if the undesired aspect is affected. Let’s take a basic candle with fragrance and color and suppose you are unhappy with a certain characteristic of that candle. The next step is to make the candle other ways but leaving out the ingredients one at a time. You would make one candle with just wax, one candle with just wax and fragrance, and one candle with just wax and color. After each candle has cooled, inspect the new candles and see which one loses or gains the undesirable characteristic. By doing this, you can narrow down which ingredient is causing the problem and take the corrective action that is needed. Sometimes it is as simple as decreasing fragrance, using some additional additives, or changing your pour temperature.

By taking very detailed notes on your experiences, you will have reference material to fall back on in the event you ever run into a similar situation. After running into the same challenge repeatedly, it starts to become embedded into your brain and earns you one more notch in your belt of experience. These late night lessons are sometimes uninvited, but by using the process of elimination, you can get yourself out of almost any bind.


November 2003

PROJECT:
Holiday Ornaments & Soap-on-a-Wick.

Whether you are a candle maker, a soap maker, or both, it is not too late to create the perfect holiday gift this year. This wonderful project makes great holiday ornaments or "soap on a rope." Either way you make it, you will be confident that your gift is special. It is easy, fast, and makes a wonderful compliment to your candles and soaps.
    

Ingredients
Pick 1 Mold:
M-172
M-173
M-174
M-175

Beeswax (white or yellow) or Melt & Pour Soap Base

Skin Safe Fragrance or
All Natural Essential Oil

Square Braided Wick
(most any size)

Instructions

Step 1
Heat bees wax or soap base to desired temperature. A good starting point for the beeswax is around 150 F, but you can adjust temperature for desired results.

Step 2
Cut a 6 or 8 inch piece of wick. Lay both ends of the wick on the side of the mold near the top of the figure. Loop the wick so it does not interfere with any of the other ornaments. Some people prefer a little gap between the ends, while others prefer to have them close together – the choice is yours.

Step 3
Just before pouring, add fragrance or essential oil to the melted wax/soap. We recommend using skin safe fragrances for either project. This will ensure the mold is safe for soap use after pouring wax previously, although we recommend avoiding alternating between soap and candles with the same mold.

Step 4
This is the fun part! Give that special somebody a gift that will surely warm their heart. Although a safe project, some ingredients can stain or damage certain surfaces or furniture. Be sure to label the item properly. Also let recipients know it should not be ignited while hanging on the tree!

 
Quick Facts:

When making pillars, a single 50-pound case of wax will yield approximately:

Dimension (diam x length) Shape Qty of candles
3 x 3 Cylinder 81
3 x 6 Cylinder 41
6 x 3 Cylinder 20
2 x 3 Cylinder 182
2 x 6 Cylinder 92
3 x 3 x 3 Square 57
3 x 3 x 4 Square 42
3 x 3 x 5 Square 34
View All

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