5 Tips for Avoiding Margin
Drain in Candle Making
Candle making can be a very encompassing term. To some it is the craft of making candles for friends and work associates around the holidays, to others it is an activity they did with a girl/boy scout troop and for many others it is a source for income. Candle making has always been an excellent choice for generating income for individuals and families during tough economic times.
There are a number of contributing factors to this:
- Candle making has a relatively low entry cost. It is possible with some research and testing to purchase some wax, add fragrance and pour into a container and have a very good quality product. This candle can then be sold at a local craft show at a pretty nice mark up.
- Candles have always been a desirable household item because it can serve in various functions in the home, room freshner, home décor and for ambiance in the evening.
- Since home buying is down dramatically and people are not moving they are trying to accessorize and redecorate their homes on a smaller budget and candles can fit this criteria.
For many candle making can be so fun it is easy to lose focus that you are doing this as a source of income. In this issue we are going to highlight some of the areas that sometimes do not seem like it should be a "margin drain" but without careful evaluation they could result in not to maximizing your income.
Establish the Right Scent Load
This can be a very tough subject and one that everyone has varying opinions on. Without doubt we have written numerous times that fragrance is considered the biggest factor in selling your candles and keeping repeat customers. The key is finding that right balance of fragrance for your candle without adding more then you need. Adding more scent than you need will be costly and may not be necessary. This is commonly referred to as the point of diminishing returns (you are adding more fragrance but it does not result in a better product). For many candle makers the tendency is to add more fragrance because you may think there is not enough. The best thing to do is test your different formulas with friends and neighbors. Be sure to evaluate the fragrance in a location other than where you pour the candles. Fragrances can easily take over the room when you pour your candles and when you then try and smell them your ability to sufficiently evaluate can be compromised. Also it is very difficult for you to be the own judge of the finished product.
When smelling fragrances for to long of a time period your senses can become somewhat dull and you become accustomed to smelling them at stronger doses. While it can be hard let other people help you determine if your candle smells strong enough.
Set the Right Sales Price
Setting the proper price for your candle might be one of the most difficult tasks in candle making. There are many issues which must be considered. Naturally we would all like to sell at the highest price but your target audience might not be willing to pay that price. On the other side there are consumers who feel if you sell the candle too inexpensively there is something wrong with the product. For initial guidance on developing your prices be sure to check out our June 2007 Englightner. Some important considerations must be what is your competitor selling the product for? What is the target audience that your candles are being sold in? Can you offer some products at a lower margin in hopes that they buy the higher priced items to go along with their candle purchase. Depending on the market you are selling at you can also run “specials” in that people like to feel like that are getting value in the product.
Save on Shipping Products
It is always best to try and minimize the number of shipments you make especially when it comes to ordering wax. Shipping one case each week is much more expensive then 4 cases at one time. Combining additional fragrances you may need later can result in substantial savings. Also when you can ship by common carrier be sure to “load” as much as possible on the skid. Many carriers charge flat rates for a skid so the rate is the same if you shipped 500 pounds or 2,000. Be sure you have all of your products shipped together if you using a common carrier.
It seems no matter how you do things you will end up with something extra in wax, fragrance and even color. Use your extra wax to make tea lights, fire starters or even tarts. If you have just a little bit of fragrance maybe have a bottle that you start collecting the fragrance. Have one for all of your florals that you can then call bouquet of flowers. For home baked goods maybe call it Granny’s Kitchen. Do not discard any of your extra raw materials. They all have some value when put into a finished good. Even if you possibly cannot sell giving them out will get you the attention of someone.
Vendors can be a Resource
Quality companies offer services to their customers that can have value. Make sure you use them. If you have a new candle requiring a different wick check to see if you can get a sample (Sorry for the self promotion but could not resist). Candlewic has always provided free wick samples. Rather than just purchasing books, check out the other resources a vendor has to see if there is sufficient information without having to invest in that book. Be sure to take advantage of promotions of the products you use.
Since the summer months are a bit slower the summer months are always a great time to review all of your cost and make sure you have kept up with current prices of products and that you review everything to make sure you are doing everything in the most cost effective manner possible.
I have never made a candle. Can you please tell me how to get started?
As we identified in our feature article, making candles for a source of income is becoming more common then ever. Because of this we are getting this question more than ever. As I always like to say, “There is not a right or wrong way to make a candle if the candle is being made safely and results in a safe burning candle.”
Inevitably, there is some type of initial research by the “future candle maker,” which should be undertaken to learn the basics. I have always offered the following:
- My homepage which is a “walk through” on the different types of candles and suggestions on wax, wick and color selection.
- A sponsored site that helps with different aspects of candle making.
- All Past Issues of the Enlightener.
- We now have an excellent Video to also help you learn the basics of pouring soy wax candles.
- Because it is so complete our print catalog can also serve as a good starting point for the beginner.
- Visiting a local Craft Store like Hobby Lobby or AC Moore can also help with finding the right materials.
Finally nothing beats getting in and trying the process. Two of my favorite kits:
Add 1 lb of the Palm 1 wax into the pouring pitcher.
Clip the thermometer onto the top of the pouring pitcher with the thermometer inside.
Place the wax filled pouring pitcher into a large pan of boiling water. This will create a double boiler for you to heat your wax. Do not allow the water to boil dry.
Heating wax on direct
heat can cause the wax
to overheat and possibly ignite.
NEVER HEAT WAX DIRECTLY ON A HEAT SOURCE.
As the wax melts, monitor the temperature with the thermometer. For accuracy do not allow the bottom of the thermometer to touch the bottom or sides of the pouring pot. Tip the pouring pot until the bottom of the thermometer is covered with the liquid wax. When the wax temperature reaches 185° F add two teaspoons of the liquid EVO-12 Burgundy color and stir.
Now you are ready to pour the first layer into the Apothecary jar. Monitor the temperature making sure it is at the pouring temperature of 180° F. Pour the first layer of colored wax into your jar to a height of 1”. After approximately 5 minutes place the RRD-50 wick into the jar. Make sure the wick tab is centered on the bottom of the. The hot wax will cause the wick to lean so use wooden popsicle sticks or wooden coffee stirrers to prevent the wick from falling toward the sides of the jar. Place the stick across the top of the jar to support the wick. Two sticks may be needed. Place the wick between each stick until it is centered.
Allow the wax to cool for approximately 3 hours or until the layer is solid and firm.
To prepare your second layer you will add 4 oz of Palm 1 wax to the colored wax that remains in your pour pitcher and repeat the melting and pouring process above (remember do not add any color). We are increasing the wax amount so that the original color will decrease in intensity.
Repeat the cooling time for the second layer.
Last layer, add 4 oz. of Palm 1 wax to the remaining wax in the pour pitcher and repeat the melt and pour processes, making sure that the pour temp is at 180° F. Repeat the cooling process.
Based on the numerous request from our customers we have started to have commissioned video’s on the various aspects of candle making.
These videos are a great way to get an idea of how easy some of the great candle making projects can be.
Our first video on rolling beeswax sheets was a tremendous hit and many customers thanked us for the great gifts they made after watching this video.
If you are looking for activities for any size group the Beeswax sheets are a great item.
After that video we moved on to making Soy wax containers. This one just launched and so far we have received many compliments.
Be sure to check out more as they are completed. All of these are FREE and a great resource to learn the basics on these projects.