Making and selling candles can be a lucrative business. Candle making is a $2 billion industry in the United States alone, according to the National Candle Association. The low cost of starting a candle making business makes the idea even more tempting. "Entrepreneur Magazine" says getting started costs less than $2,000.
Decide What to Make
Candles run the gamut of shapes, sizes, uses, colors and scents, so decide what you want to make. Research local shops and craft fairs to find out what sells. Consider offering a unique line of candles that aren’t available in your area. You might use attractive flower pots as candle holders, make wedding centerpieces or bury small treasures in candles for kids to retrieve as the wax melts. Look at the type of wax you use as you may want to solely use soy, gel or beeswax to appeal to specific markets.
Create Work Space
Look at your basement to see if you can initially use any extra space to get started. If not, lease space with a well-lit area for melting wax and an assembly area to put the candles and holders together. You also need a space in which to create a climate-controlled storage area for storing finished candles. Shelving to store molds, scented oils, dyes, wicks and packaging materials is another necessity.
Buy a wax melter, or use clean metal coffee cans to melt wax, suggests Nature’s Garden, a wholesale candle and soap supplier. Once you get into full-scale production, consider buying electric roasters, which are far less expensive than the wax melters currently available. Buy molds from candle making supply stores, or look at online auction sites to find used molds at low prices. You also need to purchase wax and wicks in bulk at wholesale prices. Until you better understand your market, buy scented oil in small quantities. It remains good for less than a year before becoming rancid. Add a fire extinguisher to your shopping list since you’ll be working with flammable material.
Marketing and Distribution
Create labels with your business name and the scent and any special wax used in your candles. List your website so people know where to buy more. Set up a booth at local craft shows, flea markets and bazaars -- especially near the holidays. Thirty-five percent of all candle purchases occur near the end of the year. Establish an account on a craft website, such as Etsy, to peddle your candles. Women buy 90 percent of all candles, according to the NCA, so look for boutiques or gift shops in your area that cater to this target market. Home décor stores, florists and garden supply stores are additional markets, as are grocery and discount stores. Selling candles in bulk at wholesale prices to specialty stores opens up even more markets.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.