July 01, 2005

Too Early?

Too Early?

If you are like me, thinking about the winter holidays when the weather outside is near 100 degrees is always a difficult proposition.

Since fall is traditionally the busiest time in the candle and retail market, it is imperative that everything goes as smoothly as possible. You don’t want to lose out on any orders just because you are so busy. The challenge is always determining what will be selling and not selling each holiday season.

Scary, But True!
Days Until...

Thanksgiving 132
Christmas 163
Hannukah 164
End of the Year 169

While larger companies have the luxury of internal forecast, economic data for a specific sector and the ability to drive the trend to a certain extent. Smaller companies have to rely on much less sophisticated means.

One of the first things to look at is sales from the same period last year. Reviewing which size containers, what type of candle (pillars, votives) and scents will give you some idea of how to begin to prepare. If you are offering new scents, it is difficult to predict how popular they will become and how much sales they will create.

Reviewing your current year’s sales data can be of assistance on the newer products. If you offer a new style container in a spring fragrance, there is a good possibility that it will do well in a holiday fragrance. The biggest unknown is “Am I going to grow from last year?”

Once you have some general idea of which candles may sell, the next step is to determine if you can meet the demand and if you increase your marketing efforts can you handle the peak load. It seems that every year the “selling cycle” shortens. Customers now need manufacturers to turn orders around in a much shorter time period. These changes in many instances have changed the way manufacturers have to do business. While many companies such as Candlewic are able to turn most orders around in 1-3 working days it is sometimes the little items that can trip up many manufacturers.

Nothing is more frustrating than having all the components to make your candle and then you realize you are out of stock on the front label and the printer’s lead-time is 2-3 weeks. To assist on this matter, you can create a Bill of Materials for each of your candles. Depending on what type of software you use to track inventory, it might be helpful to develop your Bill of Materials in a spreadsheet.

In addition to tracking and building your raw materials it is also a good time to evaluate your accessories. If you are pouring pillar candles, do you have enough in stock to keep up with production? If you have 50 molds and your customer wants 500 candles in two weeks, you will have just enough molds but there is no time to spare for unexpected events such as employees calling out sick, or even having another rush order come in. Having some “wiggle room” on molds definitely is an asset during the busier time period.
Planning early also allows you to take advantage of some of the promotions that Candlewic offers. For example if you know you will be needing wax there is not a better time than now to get truck load savings.

While you may not solve every problem that arises during your peak production time, planning early can sure make this time easier, more productive and more profitable for you.

CHANDLER'S CORNER

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

In addition to specific candle making questions I quite often get asked general business questions such as “How do I increase my sales?”

As you can imagine if there were a magical formula to this we would all be doing the same thing so I will share with you some of the recent success that have been identified. Back in May, June and July of 2001 we did a series of articles on marketing and selling candles and received very many complimentary calls on this series.

For each candle maker the formula may be a little different and the success achieved may vary. One of the more successful means of marketing your candles right now is fund raising. Local organizations are always looking for new ways to generate income. A fundraiser in which the product sold is locally produced can always be a winner. In many instances there may already be “name recognition” of your product. What better way than having 25, 50 and even 100 members out selling your product.

Even though there are other companies (possibly more well-known) doing home parties, many candle companies have achieved success with this in smaller geographical areas. Some of the keys to successful implementation would be you as the candle maker attend and identify how all candles are handmade. You can let the customers pick their own color/fragrance combination. Also, be sure to let the audience know your capabilities; chances are someone attending may think of some other need they may have and only you can identify how you could do it best.

No article is complete without mentioning the online auction sites. However, do something different. Rather than selling a single candle, try a gift package of a dozen votives. Take a gift basket and include a container candle, a votive candle, a pillar candle and then add other special items such as handmade soap, potpourri chips (see article on what to do with left over wax) and even candy. What is really unique is that you can appeal to a new audience, for a golfer include a sleeve of golf balls, coffee drinkers include a mug or even coffee beans. The possibilities are endless!

Bill of Materials

Chandlers Candle
Part Number GJ-0001 (Glass Jar
Description: 15 oz-Glass Container –Bay Laurel Scented- Light Blue

Wax- CBL-130 16 Ounces
Scent- Laurel Bay 1.1 ounces
Dye: Blue Color Block .004 ounces
Wick: 44-24-18 Cotton 1 wick
Container: 7099 1
Warning Label 1
Front Label 1
Inner Carton 1

Note: This is a very simple “Bill of Materials” they can be as complicated as you would like depending on what you are using them for. If you put them in a spreadsheet you will have to identify items by consistent units, i.e. pounds, ounces, units.

 


July 2005

PROJECT:
Making Swirl Candles

Ingredients

Polycarb Pyramid Mold
6" (15 cm) – 2/0 Wick
General Purpose Wax
Gel Wax
Liquid Gel Dye – Red
Mold Release
Mold Sealer

Instructions

STEP 1
In separate pots melt the General Purpose Wax and the Gel Wax.

STEP 2
Prepare mold by securing wick, applying Mold Sealer on the bottom and spraying the mold with Mold Release.

STEP 3
When the paraffin wax is approximately 175-200°F (80- 93°C), pour into mold. Fill the mold one-half to three-quarters full to leave room to pour the Gel Wax into your candle.

STEP 4
While the paraffin wax is cooling, prepare the Gel Wax. Add approximately two to three drops of red dye to 1/4 of a cup of Gel Wax and stir. You may want to dye your gel wax in a separate measuring cup, so that you only have to dye a small amount of your Gel Wax. Make sure the Gel Wax is quite hot before dying because you do not want it to harden before you have time to dye it and pour it into your mold. Make sure to dye your gel only after the paraffin wax has cooled for several minutes.

STEP 5
Let the paraffin wax cool until there is about 1/4 inch (6 mm) of hardened wax on the top. Puncture this skin on the wax and pour your dyed Gel Wax through the hole.

STEP 6
Let the candle cool completely, and remove it from your mold. No two candles will ever look the same, so every time you complete this project, you will make a 100% unique candle!

ALTERNATIVES
Try dying your parrafin wax before you add your Gel Wax to the candle. Be sure to use complementary colors as the waxes will mix as they cool!

Use this swirl method as a layer in a container candle!

Add glitter to your Gel Wax before pouring,and watch the sparkle spread throughout your candle!

 

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