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July 20, 2017

Holiday Season Countdown

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July 2017
Following the theme of last month about not taking a vacation from candle making, we hope to give you some guidance how to use the remaining days in July effectively.

Is 157 days a lot or a little? Historically, the candle market has been a winter holiday with the Christmas holiday season being the height of the industry. So, sitting here today, as many of us are immersed in a heat wave, an important decision may have to be made: Is 157 days enough to adequately prepare for the season?

Deadlines always seem to affect individuals in different ways. There are those who devote full attention to the task as soon as a project is handed to them, and they complete it well before the due date. The other type of person is always waiting until the last minute and trying to accomplish the task within the time constraints. Many people thrive in this environment, but, without doubt, it can add stress to your everyday life, and, in most instances, it will not work with candle making. Candle making should be one task that you are always looking ahead regarding and planning well in advance.

As we know, traditional holiday season buying kicks off the day after Thanksgiving. This year, that's Friday, November 24. That's only 126 days away, or, if you really want to tighten your deadline, only 86 working days. (Do you have any vacations planned between now and then?) However, retailers are going to want your product in their stores before then so they can begin merchandising the product, setting pricing and establishing cross-marketing programs. For smaller retailers, this may only require a couple of days, but, for larger stores going through distribution centers, this can involve a much longer process.

The question each and every candle maker has to ask is “When should I start producing candles?” The answer is going to depend on your customer base, production capabilities and forecast. Whatever date is appropriate, now is the time to start planning for your needs and determining if you are going to add any new scents, colors, or types of candles. It would be very helpful to spend some time with a calendar and develop a strategic plan with dates. You may want your worksheet to consider the following:
  The date your customer needs the product. If possible, this should include estimated quantities, because this will affect production time. You also will have to account for any type of re-order program.
   
  How long is the transit time between you and your customers? If you are shipping closer to the holiday, you may want to allow more time. As the number of packages increases, delays can develop.
   
  Production time. This is where estimated quantities and forecasting are most important. If you can make 200 candles a day, and your customers want 4,000, then that will require a 20 full working days. Be sure to check with your staff regarding their vacation plans. Going to a second shift or working weekends can help meet these deadlines, but it will add cost to the process in different ways.
   
  Supplier timelines. Be sure to check lead times with ALL of your suppliers. It will not help if your wax supplier can ship in two days, if one of your fragrances will take to take two-to-three weeks to arrive. Be sure also to account for the transit time between you and your supplier.
   
  Product line. If you are learning to make some different types of candles, now is the time to start testing and developing your new products. If you traditionally make container candles and want to add pillars or votives, then you must begin selecting the proper waxes and wicks. If you are thinking about trying a different wax, such as soy, one-pour or mottling, now is the time to start that process. Start identifying any new fragrances you would like to try so you can see how they perform in your wax formulation. Show them to friends and neighbors and get their thoughts.
 
If you mark your calendar with these key dates, take all of the above into account, and build in some cushion for unexpected delays, you will be surprised at how soon you need to start your process.
 
CHANDLER'S CORNER
It seems that my candles have recently started developing air bubbles. What is causing this?
Hi. I'm Chandler. One of the things that I always stress in candle making is that temperatures affect the outcome of your candle making. (My October 2005 message, titled "Tis The Season," stressed the importance of all three temperatures.) As the summer months are upon us, humidity also plays a critical role in the appearance of the candle. Pre-heating your container with dry heat is always the best way to prevent this from occurring.
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