March 01, 2003

Selling and Marketing Candles...Revisited

"The En-Light-ener"
Candle Making Newsletter

Welcome to the En-light-ener, Candlewic's newsletter for the candle making community.

We at Candlewic are quite excited as we enter our third year of publishing the En-Light-ener. The feedback and comments we receive daily are exciting. I read the other day that the average email user will get over 2,300 pieces a year and that is expected to grow to over 3,800 in 2004. We appreciate that you take the time to read our 12 editions of the Newsletter and 12 editions of the sales flyer.

SELLING AND MARKETING CANDLES...REVISITED
In reviewing the success of the En-Light-ener we have always felt that addressing the timely issues is what is most important to our readers. With retail sales virtually flat we felt it may be an important time to bring back one of our most successful articles that involved Selling and Marketing candles. This article was the first in a series of three, which was published in June of 2001. The issues actually may even be more timely now then ever. Despite the focus on selling candles I think even the hobbyist/crafter can benefit by much of the information contained in this article.

One of the most appealing things to us has always been the ability for a candle company to compete in certain markets, regardless of their size. Even the smallest candle maker has the ability to succeed because of their personal attention, potential for offering a wide range of fragrances and colors, and their ability to react to small orders in a rapid manner.

When starting out it would be best to service local accounts such as your small gift store, family-owned pharmacies, furniture stores and even consignment shops. These venues are always a good starting point since in most instances you will be dealing directly with the owner. By selecting local markets, you have the ability to deliver the product, thus eliminating freight cost (this will be covered later). You also have the ability to work out arrangements with the owner to track their inventory level. And finally, many of these types of business enjoy the fact that the candles are made locally and they will promote that fact.

You may want to look at local craft and art shows. This is always a good starting point to build local interest in your products. It also provides a good forum to find what your potential customer may desire.

A well-designed web site is always a good idea too. However, keep in mind that many candle companies have their own web site, thus it is hard to get your product in the forefront. While eBay does not really need an endorsement, many candle companies find this to be a very successful place when starting out. Listing costs are very low and many potential customers can view your products.

Another good source for selling candles is through fundraisers with local organizations. This is a "win-win" situation for both parties since payment typically is received at the time goods are sold. This lets you start to build a local following in the community with the fund raising organization serving as sales representatives. The good thing is that after the event is over, many people still will be interested in purchasing your candles.

One critical element is not to over extend yourself or take on orders that are well beyond your production capability. While it is always very appealing to have your product accepted into mass retailers, it can hurt a growing or small company. In many instances it is very difficult for smaller companies to have the same purchasing power as the larger ones when purchasing the waxes, scents and colors.

Keep your material costs under control.
It comes as a shock to many candle companies that when making a highly scented candle, the scent can cost more than the wax itself. Selecting the percentage of scent used and where you purchase your scents is critical in controlling cost. The determination on how much scent to use is almost always a personal preference decision. During this determination process, you should keep in mind that scents do have a point of diminishing return. This means you could probably get the same scent throw with 6% as you would with the 8% scents. However, this difference will make a sizeable impact on the cost of the finished candles. You should go through this process with each fragrance you use. As you probably have found, certain fragrances by nature are stronger than others, i.e. cinnamon, mulberry and French vanilla all have a tendency to have a stronger impact.

A 3-wick candle using F-Wax natural wax.

When purchasing waxes, you have two options—blended waxes or straight paraffins (see March 2001 edition for further information). You should select the one that works better for you at the most efficient price. As a small candle company you may also want to explore candles that the larger companies are not as effective in making, i.e. natural candles, chunk candles and other specialty type candles. We discussed how to make F-Wax candles in the May/June 2002 issue.

Once you have selected your wax, one of the key aspects is shipping. It is important that you control this aspect as much as possible. Undoubtedly, the price per pound for shipping wax is much higher than most other products. Therefore, it is important that you look at each pricing level when making that determination. You may have to purchase more up front but you will save both on the discounts offered on the wax and the shipping. For example 200 pounds of wax shipped at one time is approximately 16% less than if you were to get 2 shipments of 100 pounds each. If you are able to take 500 pounds it is 45% less for shipping than if you took 5 shipments of 100 pounds!

To summarize some of the points identified, it is imperative that you review all costs--both direct and indirect costs. Some of your indirect costs will include items such as inner/master cartons, labeling requirements, skids and utilities. While individually they are not a lot they can add up over a number of candles.

 

SUPER SALES
Be sure to visit the Super Sales section on Candlewic.com to get all the latest specials. Right now you can get Chunks at just $1.50 per pound and some great fragrances as low as $8.50!


March 2003

Candle Making Made
Fun...Wax Art Crystals

One of the easiest candles to make would have to be the "Wax Art Crystals" candles. Wax art crystals, or granulated wax, is a wax that has been formed into tiny beads slightly larger than sand. The product is available in a myriad of colors and even several scents. What makes this so easy is that the wax does not have to be melted. It can be easily poured into any "candle safe" container. For anyone who has seen "Sand Art" the concept is identical except when you are finished you have a candle that can be burned.

Once you have selected the proper container take a completed wick assembly (one with a base) and place into the glass container. The best wick for this application is going to be something like a 34-40 zinc.

The best way to get started is to select several colors and gently pour into the glass container with a spoon or other dispensing tool. You can take multiple colors and layer them in the glass to the desired height. For ultimate effects such as waves, you can take a long, narrow pointer such as a knitting needle and slide down the side of the glass container. This will create "waves" in the wax. This is a project any age child or adult can enjoy. This is a great project for cub scouts, girl scouts, and camping trips. The candles can even be used as wedding favors.

The true advantage to wax art crystals is that they may also be melted and poured to make votives, pillars and even small containers. The wax art crystals are easy to handle and can be melted in any type of double boiler. The colors are slightly more concentrated, so white wax art crystals should be added to any color to lessen the intensity. What is nice is you can mix, match and melt the crystals to get any color shade you desire. The wax art crystals should be considered by any candle company that is interested in trying to learn how to pour and make candles.

SPECIAL OFFER:
For each 5-pound bag of granulated wax you order, we’ll send you 3 free glass containers like this one.


 

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

In the last issue of the En-Light-ener I focused on easier ways to make votives. In this issue, I would like to offer a few tips on making pillars easier.

One of the simplest tricks I can offer on making pillars when using aluminum molds or tin molds is to feed the wick through the bottom of the mold and secure on top with wick bar (M-321). Secure the bottom with a rubber plug (M-114)…now the secret is to leave a lot of extra wick at the bottom of the mold. By doing this you can automatically "wick" the mold for your next pour when you pull the finished candle out of the mold. This procedure should work with all aluminum molds, tin molds and polyurethane (including taper molds). This little trick can save you time by making it unnecessary to feed the wick through the hole for each and every pour.

A second option would be to use pillar pins for the 2", 3" and 4" round aluminum molds. These pins are available for aluminum molds up to 6-1/2" in height. The pins slide up through the bottom of the pillar mold and the round mold can then rest on the pin. These pins have proven to be a true time saver when used.

If using aluminum molds and you wish to reduce or eliminate the air bubbles the mold should be preheated and the wax should be poured at around 180-185 degrees F.

For making pillars, the best wax I would recommend is the CBL-141. For mottling pillars I would recommend you use the 4045H.

Until we visit again, I look forward to addressing any questions or comments you may have. Just visit my section of Candlewic.com and click on the “send me your questions” link.

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