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October 01, 2003

Marketing Traditional Candles in Not-So-Traditional Venues


Welcome to the En-light-ener, Candlewic's newsletter for the candle making community. We'd like to thank you for your continued interest in this newsletter. If you have any suggestions for topics you would like to have us write about, please send them.

Marketing Traditional Candles
in Not-So-Traditional Venues.
Some candle makers create candles that are truly unique and so different, that they can command a higher price and sell them successfully through smaller venues. Other candle makers are successful by creating economies of volume and distribute their candles through large distribution networks. Others find a niche and successfully create candles that may only be desired by members of that niche. No matter how you are currently selling your candles, there is always that question in the back of your mind, “Who else would want to buy one of my candles?”

What's your piece of the candle market pie?

It is commonly held knowledge that the United States candle market is estimated to be roughly 2 billion dollars annually. Take a minute and do the math to see what percentage of the 2 billion represents your share of candle sales… It is reasonable to assume that you may want more than your current share. In order to obtain more share of the candle market, you must do a little research and figure out ways to create new avenues.

According to the National Candle Association, candles are sold principally in three types of retail outlets: department stores; specialty (gift) shops; and mass merchandisers, including drug store chains, supermarkets, and discount stores. Sometimes these avenues are highly competitive and take time to develop the relationships necessary to enter this type of selling network. Future issues of the Enlightener will address tactics for these areas – this article pertains to the alternatives.

One good way to develop new store venues is to get out and visit stores that you may not normally frequent. Stop by a mall or shopping center and see what stores have candle sections and which do not. Look for clues to success in the stores that do have candles and ask employees in stores that do not have candles, “why?” Sometimes the answer is as simple as it was just never presented before. Some of the more obscure stores that do well are pet shops, cigar stores, bakeries, and coffee shops. Be creative with the fragrance names and try to match them to the store’s theme. For example, the pet shop would appreciate a strong fragrance that hides pet odor while the bakery would want more food types of scents.

Another suggestion is to start signing up for catalogs from mail order companies. Take particular note of the overall “feel” of the catalog. Design fragrances or types of candles so the finished candle compliments the catalog. A camping catalog would do well with nature scents such as fir or balsam, while a car parts catalog would do well with car themed candles. Good places to find catalogs are magazines and web searches.

The greatest aspect of making candles is the fact that it is quite easy to make a prototype to present to prospective retailers. Many retailers brand all of their items with the store logo, so a candle could easily fit that description. It is rather easy to obtain the image from their website and make a candle using their logo or their store colors. For added value, create a custom store display concept that fits their store. It may cost you a few dollars up front, but it ensures that space in their store is reserved for your line of candles.

Another good way to sell candles is to contact companies that sell extremely expensive products or services that require extensive customer relationships for future sales. Good examples are realtors, lawyers, car dealers, landscapers, and equipment sellers. Create a candle that these companies can give away as a gift with purchase.

Adding utility to the candles does well for the candle maker. Try to put an added value such as making it easy to light or putting on a protective bottom to help eliminate damage to furniture due to heat. A fireproof lid made of glass or metal makes it easier to extinguish. Customers get familiar with the little value added features and will come back asking for more.

Many candle makers have great success using online auctions and directories. One good example is the Ebay auction website. They allow you to set up a “storefront” so customers can find you once they become loyal to your products. This is an inexpensive way to have your own website without laying out the large amounts of capital that are necessary for traditional website design and hosting. By becoming a member of different directories, you can increase awareness of your candle website by taking advantage of group marketing efforts. The directory website is able to combine all the members keywords and offerings into one easy to find location on the web.

A final route to take is to create fundraisers or theme specific candles. This is an excellent way to sell candles during other times of the year aside from the busy holiday season. Some communities have an annual celebration that may be a good venue, while others may need a way to earn money for a particular community project. By keeping active in the community and joining clubs in your area, you can effectively network with other businesses and organizations that may want to purchase candles.


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Polyurethane Molds and Techniques.

Candle makers are always asking me for ways to make new and exciting candles that are easy to produce, yet look exquisite. One way to easily achieve this is to use polyurethane rubber molds. These easy to use molds help the candle maker create unique brand extensions of their existing line in order to help separate themselves form the competition.

  1. Use a few rubber bands around the mold to seal the sides together. Some people use hose clamps, but they can be cumbersome and difficult to gauge tightness. Rubber bands break down over time, so keep a few extra on hand.
  2. Leave extra wick at the bottom of the mold. This extra length can be used to tie beads or information cards to the candle, which sometimes are difficult to label. This extra wick can also be used as the wick for the next candle. By removing the candle and pulling the extra wick through, the candle is ready for the second pour without having to re-wick it.
  3. Keep your molds clean to avoid any discoloration of the candles when changing colors. If you leave a little red wax left in the mold, and then change to yellow, you may get orange spots in the yellow candles. Keep them clean!
  4. Have fun with color bleed. One example is the M-22 Rose Floater. By pouring a deep red a few times, then switching to a hot pour of uncolored white, will result in a really uniquely colored candle. The left over red in the mold gives a neat pink striped affect to the white wax.

October 2003

Natural Lemons.

It is easy to make a natural candle that can be enjoyed for those special dinner occasions, to give as gifts, or to have as a decorative show piece. These natural lemons look great as an added value product when displayed with your other candles. They are fun to make and act a wonderful conversation piece. These candles may be natural and easily mistaken as the real thing, but please don’t eat them!

All Natural Pillar Blend
Polyurethane Lemon Mold
Wick Holder Bar
Lemon Essential Oil
Spooled Wick
(hemp wick is optional)
Yellow dye
Iron Candle Holder (optional)

Step 1
Melt the natural CSP-1 wax on a double boiler to about 165 degrees. Add EVO-13 yellow dye after the wax is up to temperature and stir well.

Step 2
Prepare the M-272 mold by inserting the wick through the bottom of the mold using a thin wire or very dull, oversized sewing needle. Be sure to leave an extra length of wick, so it pulls through when the candle is removed and is ready for the next time you make a lemon. Use the M-321 wick bar to hold the wick centered over the top of the mold. Place a few rubber bands around the mold to hold the mold tightly together.

Step 3
Add roughly 1 to 3 percent of essential oil to the wax just before pouring, and pour at 150 to 170 degrees. Some candle makers prefer different pour temperatures. Higher temperatures may give easier release but may cause more shrinkage. The perfect balance is your preference.

Step 4
Top off if necessary. You may need to experiment a little to determine the optimal timing and temperature for the second pour depending on the ambient temperature of the room and initial pouring temperature of the first pour.

Step 5
Place the candle on an appropriate candle holder, light the candle and ENJOY!

Polyurethane molds are simple to use, make beautiful candles, and last a very long time. Many candle makers prefer them due to the fact they do not require heating and they make a unique candle that is entirely different than the common jar candle. Often the candles made with polyurethane molds are added to themed baskets as the perfect complement to soaps and lotions or sold with an inexpensive iron candle holder as a gift set.

Quick Facts:

When ordering prewick assemblies, you will notice they have 2 numbers that tell you the size of the tab. The first number is the diameter of the tab. The standard 20mm is the size of a nickel and is suitable for most applications. The 15mm tab is the size of a dime and fits right into the circular impression at the bottom of a tea light cup. The second number is the length of the neck in millimeters and tells the candle when it is time to extinguish itself. The standard is 3 mm, but you can have your candle extinguish earlier in the event you do not want the jar to get quite so hot, or if you have embeds in the candles. We recommend always using the 9mm neck for making gel candles.

20 x 3 Standard in most jars or unsure what is needed
20 x 6 or 20 x 9 Usually preferred by customers using Gel or embeds
15 x 3 Tea light or jars that have small bottoms (champagne glass)
33 x 3 or 32 x 3 Self centers itself in the bottom of a M-63 votive mold
View All

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