October 01, 2007

Ready, Set, Go!

Ready, Set , GO

Most candle makers cannot wait until the fall months and specifically October.   Those that have been in the candle market always appreciate this is the time of year when we start getting busy with fall festivals and readying for the winter holidays.

It is now that you want to do your final checklist to make sure you are ready for the next couple of months. Do you have all of your winter fragrances picked out? Glassware ready?  Labels on order? And many of the other small details needed to make your finished candle complete.

It is easy (most of time) to ensure you have wax because of the room it takes up, the fragrance because you can’t help but to smell and the dye which never seems to run out except for Saturday at 9:00 PM when you need it most.

As we have written in past issues of the Enlightener, candle makers need to be experts in a myriad of functions especially organization and planning. At first glance you would think the candle would only have a couple of ingredients; i.e. wax, fragrance and wick. But by now you have realized that so much more is needed. Your label, burning instructions, shrink wrap, UV absorbers, bag, box and other items are smaller but essential.

One of the critical steps we would suggest, if you have not already done so, would be to  develop a complete list of all of your components that go into your product, commonly called a Bill of Materials. The Bill of Materials (BOM) can serve multiple uses such as helping in determining your cost, tracking inventory, and determining when to place orders.  The best way to get started would be to list on a spreadsheet everything required to sell your candle from start to finish. This would include the smallest of items. 

The BOM can be as extensive or simple as you would like. At minimum you should have the cost of the material, how many units go into the candle, your current inventory of the item, and the lead time. Some other suggestions for information to include would be your vendor, secondary vendor, and total cost of the inventory on hand (this will change with each candle made).  As you learn to use each column you will want to add additional ones as a good tool to run your business, craft, or hobby.

The first column of cost will help you track all of your cost in order to determine what you may be able to sell the candle for. By tracking this on a regular basis you can determine if you can run a special on a candle and still make a profit.  Maybe your supplier ran a special on one of your components or you picked up the material and saved on shipping.

The second column should list how much inventory of the item you have. This will help you plan how many candles you can make in the upcoming days/weeks. While there are other columns you may find important to your needs, one that should not be over looked is lead times. 

While most of the items may be something your supplier has in stock, inevitably something you require will have an extended lead time. Nothing is more frustrating than having a nearly finished candle and being out of inventory of your label.  It would be a very important exercise to call your vendors and inquire the lead time on each item.

The more critical information you add to the sheet and keep up to date the more effective a Business Tool the BOM can become. It is amazing how a well constructed Bill of Materials can help your business grow successfully and profitably.

MARKETING 101

Many fragrances are sold for holiday specific times but with creative efforts you can extend the life of your candle scent by renaming the candle. If you have a candle scent with hints of pine and other scents called “Essence of Christmas”. Maybe rename it after Christmas to “Midnight Woods”. This can be done with most holiday specific fragrances. 

There are several holidays coming up that use traditionally unscented candles but with some creative marketing you might be able to get customers to use scented.  Every carved pumpkin needs a candle. Why not enhance the experience and put in a scented Pumpkin Pie candle?

On Christmas Eve, many homes and downtowns line up luminaries. Instead of the white tea light or votive, why not enhance the experience with Jack Frost, Egg Nog or Pine Needle?

 

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CHANDLER'S CORNER

I selected my fragrance and now wish to purchase dye to color my candles.  I see you have it in Blocks, Liquid and Powder.  How do I know which one to use?

Any of these forms of dye will work in candle making and it really depends on what size batches of candles you are making.  Without doubt powdered dye will always be the most cost effective but at the same time they are extremely concentrated and virtually impossible to match colors in 4 pound batches. Powdered dyes are best suited when mixing in 100 + batches. The liquid dyes aren’t quite as concentrated as the powdered and a little easier to work with.  By far the easiest to work with are the blocks, but they are not as concentrated. As you make larger batches the cost is more then the other forms.



October 2007

PROJECT:
Luminaries

Ever drive around your town on Christmas Eve and see all of the driveways or shops in a small downtown glowing with magnificence? These spectacular sites generally start with candles. Even if you are not a candle maker you can get your entire neighborhood involved.

Instructions

Step 1
Select a votive to use. For making this project you can use one that you made or a standard 15-hour votive.

Step 2
Fill the bag with enough sand to prevent the bag from blowing away in the evening. Place the votive in the bag and light. Naturally these should only be used in outdoor displays.

Step 3
Line along driveway or sidewalk. IMPORTANT NOTE: Even though it is outside, extreme caution should be used.

Secret #1
Cut designs into the bag or add decorations to the outside of the bag. Snowflakes, stars and candy canes always add a special holiday touch. As identified in the feature article you may even want to think about donating these to your local business if you can place your label on the outside of the bag.

Secret #2
If you are expecting guests, try scenting them so your guests will be surprised with the pleasant smell of Bayberry, Christmas Cheer or some other wonderful holiday fragrance.

Secret #3
Since the votive is not seen the color is not important. You can use up all of your scrap wax to make these candles.

Secret #4
If you are making these for your own use, you may want to use soup cans, pet food (if metal) or other metal containers.

Secret #5
If you have snow on the ground, make a large snowball and hollow out the middle then put a candle in it. Make sure to keep these candles away from shrubs, trees and other flammable objects.


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