Candle Maker

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? Yes
Online Operation? Yes

The popularity of specialty candles has increased as more and more people are starting to enjoy the relaxing effect that burning scented candles can have. A good starting point for learning how to make candles would be visiting the National Candle Association's website (www.candles.org). A home-based candle-making business is a great way to make extra income.

Ask the Expert: Luis Garcia, CEO & Founder of Milan Candles

What is the first step to getting a candle-making business started?

Gain clarity on your vision for the business and reverse-engineer your steps. Doing this helps you figure out a clear path to success for the business you want and it keeps you focused when everything and everyone else needs your attention. It's important to build your five pillars from the start because they're the foundation for your business: Finance, Branding, Sales and Marketing, Infrastructure, and Leadership. Then, within each pillar you have impact and sub-impact areas which allow you to dive deeper, for example, finance would include accounting, taxes, business credit, budgeting, cashflow, etc. depending on your goals.  

What are the current trends, and what type of person is a great fit to try this?

The candle industry is continually growing. U.S. retail sales are estimated at approximately $3.14 billion annually (National Candle Association) and while a good chunk of those sales occur during the holidays, 65% are non-seasonal. People increasingly purchase candles as a focal point for their home decor and holistic well-being.

 

Related: Want to Be Your Own Boss? Learn How to Launch Your Side Hustle Fast.

How much money can a person expect to make in the first year and in five years?

It depends on the scale that you’re trying to build.  My vision for Milan Candles is to become a billion-dollar company to fund Milan’s Mission in the fight to end sex trafficking. So, I’m not expecting to make a huge profit within the first year. To grow at the level I want to, my main focus for year 1 is brand awareness and getting our product into people’s hands and homes so they can experience it. To launch as a side-hustle, it’s completely possible to turn a profit in the first year by keeping your infrastructure, systems, and costs lean. In 5 years' time, there’s no limit to what you can make.  To give you some context, Yankee Candles sold for $1.75 billion in 2013.

What kind of experience/training do you need to have?

You don’t have to have any previous experience in making candles to start a candle company — there are a lot of classes, resources, and online tutorials you can access to help get you started.  Youtube and google “university”, with a lot of trial and testing, was the key for our product development.  That said, I would recommend always having a student mindset and being open to learning — whether that’s improving your product or learning about business in general. Things move fast when you’re an entrepreneur and you need to be able to keep up.

 

Related: Need One-on-One Help? Book a Session with an Entrepreneur Expert.

What do you wish you knew when you were just starting out?

Understanding the taxes, shipping, customs and other logistics when it comes to expanding into international markets has been the biggest learning curve for me.  There are a lot of different factors that can affect the business and make you burn through cash quickly if you’re not careful.  So my advice would be to start where you live and build a loyal customer base there first before you expand internationally.

Who are your customers and where do you find them?

Our target customers are individuals on a transformational journey towards self-love.  They’re looking for peace, safety, comfort, and healing to give to themselves or gift to others.

Currently, we find our customers online (social media) or through popup events and nurturing our existing customers through our email campaigns.  We’re also investing heavily in brand awareness campaigns and building up our SEO this quarter so that will bring additional traffic to our online store.  What’s really special about our brand is the experience you have when you receive our product.  We receive countless compliments from our customers about every detail like being able to smell the luxury candle before opening the package, the embossed flame logos on the corner of the box, our mission and message inside the box with the wax seal on the envelope.  And then there’s this beautiful candle.  This luxurious experience makes the entire unboxing extremely sharable.  The effect of this makes gifts a large portion of our sales which helps increase our customer base and brand loyalty.

What type of growth can be realistically expected year over year?

In terms of growth expected year on year, I personally believe that "realistic" is a reflection of what you’re willing to work for.

 

Related: Get the No.1 Guide to Starting Your Own Business

Are there any resources you recommend that were extremely valuable to get your business off the ground? 

My network was the most valuable resource for me — being able to speak to other entrepreneurs who have product-based businesses and learn about their experiences was useful in helping me navigate this new space.

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