Suppose you’re an arts & crafts enthusiast passionate about wicks, soy blends, and harmonizing the perfect scents. In that case, you should already know that making decorative candles is one of the many small business ideas that you can start at home, and which can become profitable very quickly.
Why? Because the scented candle season never ends.
Is candle-making profitable?
The first question you need to ask yourself when you want to start your own business is whether it is profitable or not. Of course, profit depends on many factors, such as the types of candles you want to make, number of sales, candle price, cost of ingredients, customer acquisition costs, and what your marketing strategy is, but the typical profit margins for homemade candles range from 50% to 70%.
How much money do you make selling candles?
Selling candles from home can be a part-time job if you want to simply make some extra cash, or it can become your main form of income. In the beginning, as a new candle maker, you can expect to earn anywhere from $500 and $1,000 per month. If your homemade candle business starts to grow, you can reach up to $50,000 - $100,000 per year.
Haven’t made any candles yet? Check out this article to see how you can build scented candles from scratch.
Is it worth starting a candle business?
There have been significant changes in consumer behavior recently regarding these products. They’ve evolved from the sphere of seasonal products associated with certain holidays to everyday ornamental items. Today, more and more people use variously colored and fragrant decorative candles to beautify their homes and offices - a development opportunity for manufacturers. In addition, they are the ideal gift for various occasions.
Besides the profit you’ll make, starting, making and selling candles from home can have a few other benefits. Just imagine how satisfied you’ll be when people admire your works of art made with so much love. Besides, a candle-making business doesn’t require a big investment and:
- is easy to start
- has minimal startup costs
- doesn’t require complex equipment
- can be done right in the comfort of your home
- has high demand
- has an easy to sell product (online and as well as offline)
What types of homemade candles sell best?
The most beautiful thing about starting a candle business at home is that you’re allowed to unleash your imagination and create different types of unique candles at the same time.
The willingness to experiment will help you bring the best products to the market and make your candle-making business successful. Here are the most popular types of homemade candles you can start with:
Soy candles are made from a base of soy wax. Derived from soybean oil, soy is much more environmentally friendly, renewable, and biodegradable. Other benefits of soy candles include:
burns cleanly, without leaving toxic smoke
Meanwhile, the disadvantages of soy candles include:
- higher production costs
- less scent
It is known that scented candles are relaxing and can help reduce stress levels in the body. They come in dozens of fragrances and are among the best ways to beautify and give a calm feel to any room. They are used, in particular, during yoga classes, meditation sessions, and spa massages.
Decorative candles come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, and don’t necessarily have to be scented. They are especially created to complement the decor and look harmonious anywhere in the house. The main benefit of making and selling decorative candles is that there is high demand and a large market.
Paraffin candles are still preferred by people because they are affordable and can give off strong scents. For a candle-maker, paraffin candles are inexpensive to produce. However, they are highly unsustainable, produce more soot, and don’t burn for a long time.
What size candle sells the most?
The best-selling candle size is 8 oz candles. However, it’s important to offer a variety of sizes. Keep in mind that people are different, and so are their tastes. While some would like to enjoy the fragrance of a candle more, others would want it to last less so they can then replace it with a different one.
What are the best-selling candle fragrances?
Some of the best-selling candle fragrances are lavender, vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon. Because of this, if you’re thinking of running a scented candle-making business, you should also consider what season it is. Here are the most popular scented candles all year round:
- Cherry lemon
- Black raspberry vanilla
- Coconut lime
- Cinnamon and vanilla
- Pumpkin chai
- Hot apple pie
- Vanilla chestnut
- Christmas tree
- Strudel and spice
- Lemon and tangerines
- Citrus tonic
- Fresh mint
Now, if you’re ready to take the next step, keep reading this article and learn how you can transform your passion for homemade candles into a thriving business.
The candle industry – what you need to know
In case you were wondering what the potential for developing a candle making business is, here are some statistics about the U.S candle industry. According to the National Candle Association:
- U.S. retail sales of candle products are estimated at approximately $3.14 billion annually.
- Approximately 35% of candle sales occur during the Christmas/Holiday season. Non-seasonal business accounts for approximately 65% of candle sales.
- More than 1 billion pounds of wax are used in producing the candles sold each year in the U.S.
- It is estimated that more than 10,000 different candle scents are available to U.S. consumers.
- The retail price of a candle generally ranges from approximately $1.99 for a votive to $35 for a large pillar or jar candle. Impactfully scented candles in exceptionally beautiful containers and elaborate boxes can be $200 or more.
- The market size of the candle manufacturing industry is expected to increase by 2.9% during this year.
At the beginning of this article, I explained that, lately, people's preferences for candles have changed. When launching a business, it’s essential to understand what consumers want and what the market demand is so you can deliver the desired satisfaction more effectively and efficiently than competitors. That being said, let me give you some information about Americans’ preferences when it comes to buying candles:
- Candles are mostly preferred by women due to their aesthetic appeal.
- The demand for organic soy wax candles has increased as more and more people are becoming aware of the negative impact that burning candles has on the environment.
- Container and jar candles are the most preferred types of candles.
- The scent, color, cost, and shape are the factors that matter most when it comes to selling candles.
- Three-fourths of candle buyers say that fragrance is “extremely important” or “very important” when they are about to purchase a candle.
- Nine out of ten candle consumers use candles to create a cozy and mild atmosphere inside their homes.
- People most often burn candles in the living room (42%), followed by the kitchen (18%) and the bedroom (13%).
- One in five women uses candles to decorate the yards, patio, outdoor areas, and the interior of their home.
- People like offering scented candles during the holidays (76%), as a housewarming gift (74%), a dinner party gift (66%), a thank you (61%), and as adult birthday gifts (58%).
Take your candle-making passion to the next level
You have a passion and you know you want to turn it into a business. So, what’s next? Let’s see what you need and what you have to do to make your own candles at home.
It’s no secret that nobody likes paperwork, but if you plan to open your future homemade candle business, you need to register it and see what compliance aspects you should cover.
Steps you need to take to start your business
- Write your business plan.
- Determine how much funding you’ll need.
- Pick your business location.
- Choose a business structure.
- Choose your business name.
- Register your business.
- Get federal and state tax IDs.
- Apply for licenses and permits.
Open a business bank account.
It may seem like it’ll take a lifetime to do all these things, but it’s actually relatively easy to get started. The U.S Small Business Administration provides all the necessary and updated information you need to know.
Costs involved in opening a candle-making business at home
The estimated total cost for a small candle business is about $1,000. However, when you work out your budget, there are four things you should take into consideration:
- Set-up costs – these include the equipment and supplies.
- The time you spend making the products.
- The cost per candle.
- Shipping costs.
Find your material supplier and align it with your financial expectations
Search for a few potential suppliers and see what their price offers and advantages are. Determine what materials are needed for the first period and place cover orders so you can get started comfortably. In addition, you can also consider creating an ordering system to ensure you do not run out of certain necessary raw materials.
Materials and ingredients you need to make candles to sell
To start, some candle-making supplies you might need are:
- Candle wax – wax, beeswax, coconut wax, granulated wax (or a combination of them).
- Candle wicks.
- Jars or tins – they can be bought in bulk quantities.
- Scents – choose from a variety of organic and environmentally-friendly scents (tip: create your own scents by infusing natural herbs or petals into the wax ;))
- Molds – they come in different shapes and sizes.
- Packaging supplies.
Legal requirements for selling homemade candles
According to ASTM International, you're required to use a fire safety warning label on each candle. It has to be visible, readable, and it must show the official fire alert symbol along with the word “WARNING”, followed by fire hazard and safety information. The label must also include:
- Statement of identity, which is the main product description, different from your business name. For example, “100% organic candle”.
- Name and location – your company/business name and where the candles come from.
- Net weight.
A detailed description of candle label requirements and other helpful information can be found on the ASTM International website.
Test your products before launching them on the market
Product testing is crucial because it offers an outside perspective on your product. Through product testing, you will find out the strength of your products, what people like most about them, and what should be improved. Offer samples to your family, friends, and neighbors and ask them to share their honest opinion.
One of the most important things when starting a business is to set your potential customers. You need to correctly identify your target audience and create your marketing strategies accordingly. This will help you formulate the right message, build your brand, and choose proper packaging. Make sure you also:
- Decide what types of candles you want to produce and sell (soy wax, floating candles, pillar candles, votive candles, vegan candles, scented or aromatherapy candles, decorative candles).
- Do a little market research to see what types of homemade candles are on the market and which are the most successful.
- Make an analysis of your main potential competitors to see what they do well and what you could learn from them.
Remember that it’s important to focus on creating a brand that stands out as unique compared to other candle manufacturers.
How do I start selling homemade candles?
Regardless of the type of business you run, applying strategic marketing techniques is vital to its success. Market analysis and customer behavior are key factors and shouldn’t be ignored by any business, no matter how small. A good marketing strategy brings you advantages such as:
- Keeping the candle-making business competitive - A rigorous and honest analysis of the company's strengths and weaknesses and identifying new development opportunities will help your business survive in the market by helping you offer more unique or different products compared to those of the competition.
- Generating more sales - sometimes a rigorous and well-thought-out marketing strategy can lead to more sales than an advertising campaign would bring. Marketing convinces customers to buy the products or services offered by a particular company now and in the future. Within the marketing strategy, aspects related to the price, packaging, and promotions for a specific product are developed, which are meant to attract more customers.
Understanding customer preferences - When market and consumer preferences change, you'll recognize the phenomenon and quickly develop a promotion strategy. Being up to date with the news and being able to satisfy customers' needs at any time is an essential factor for the success of a business.
Build your brand
Why is it important to build your brand? Because it helps you create an audience, loyal customers, and an identity for your business.
Establish your brand story
A brand story helps you cultivate a better connection with your customers. It should be authentic, captivating, meaningful, and emotional, especially in something like a candle business. Your brand’s mission, message, and tone of voice will be defined by it. It should tell people who you are, what you do, and why you do it. But, above all, a brand story should make your customers feel like they are a part of it.
Create a candle company name that tells your story
A brand name should be easy to pronounce, short, simple, and memorable. Finding a name for your candle-making business can be one of the single, most challenging tasks. Fortunately, you can find some ideas on websites such as Business Name Generator .
Find your visual identity and tone of voice
Visual identity is the way you model perception and create an impression through the visible elements of your brand. It includes your logo, photography, website, social media, and packaging.
Images are a powerful form of communication. They speak on a primary, emotional level and are thus more convincing. In the candle-making business, aesthetics play an essential role since your customers will buy your products to beautify their homes and enjoy the cozy feelings that scented homemade candles offer.
Create a marketing plan
Ready to start selling candles from home? Let’s see all the different alternatives.
How to sell candles online
One benefit of selling online is that your profit is no longer limited by the number of customers that can physically visit your store. You can use multiple digital platforms to sell your homemade candles and reach potential customers all over the world. Some of the channels you can explore to market your products are:
- Instagram. It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. The main feature of Instagram is that it allows you to create a feed of wonderful images, upload photos of your stunning candles, and share the amazing experience of making candles with your audience. The truth is images can evoke emotions and feelings and are much more appealing than other forms of interaction.
- Pinterest. Considered one of the largest platforms, Pinterest aims to connect people and their passions through images. It can be useful to any brand that has a visual story.
- Email marketing. It’s a great way to develop your business by building strong, long-term customer relationships, giving you the opportunity to speak to them directly in their inbox, and letting them know about promos, discounts, and other updates about your brand.
- Your own website. If you want to sell your homemade candles through a company website, you should know that this requires buying a domain name. You can build your own website with NameCheap or Site Ground.
- E-commerce websites. ETSY, Amazon Handmade, eBay, or Shopify are the most common distribution channels for homemade candles. One important factor to keep in mind when deciding where to sell your products is your target audience. While some people who like to shop for luxury candles will, most of the time, choose a high-end online or brick and mortar retailer, others might prefer to buy from a supercenter site, such as Amazon, where prices are more varied and affordable.
How to sell candles offline
For some buyers, it’s essential to touch, feel, or smell the product they are going to buy. For them, the interaction with the person who created the candles is significant, especially since some would want to know the whole process by which they were made. The main advantage of opening up a physical candle store is that you get to meet your customers face-to-face and get direct feedback.
Work on your product photography
Now that you’ve finished your first homemade candles, it’s time to take some photos. Make sure the shape and label are visible and keep in mind that great product photography is important for convincing consumers to shop for your product. Visual content is considered to be the key deciding factor that influences a purchase. How to get stunning photos:
- Find some friends who can be your models and present your products in use in real situations. Take some pictures that show how they enjoy the wonders of your scented or soy wax candles.
- Don’t hesitate to use a photo editor to enhance the images.
Start posting those beautiful homemade candles on your social media accounts
It’s recommended to post at least once a day. Let people see your work in progress and encourage them to like your content and leave comments by asking simple questions such as “What kind of fragrance do you think would fit for this type of candle?” or “Let’s see how many candle-making lovers we have here!”. This method will also help you get to know your customers better.
Why use “word-of-mouth marketing strategy” and how it can help spread your name
If you want to grow your candle business, you have to keep in touch with your audience. Statistics show that the more you interact with people, the more likely your name will spread. Word-of-mouth is a free form of advertisement or promotion based on recommendations that come from familiar sources. They are considered to be trustworthy and valuable compared to advertising or professional reviews. Have your friends or family already used your homemade candles? If yes, ask them to spread the word by sharing a few thoughts about you and your products on their personal social media pages and posting pics with your candles.
My advice is to test your candle-making business for six months to one year. The period in which a business can become profitable is from three to four years. Meanwhile, you should focus your efforts on generating loyal customers and testing different sales strategies. I encourage you to take advantage of every seasonal holiday and prepare special campaigns with promo codes and targeted ads.
How to make your candle business successful?
Nothing can stop you from making and selling other things online. Organic homemade soaps, body oils, shampoos, conditioners, perfumes, or even cleaning products may be some of the new products people can find in your candle shop. In addition, there are a few steps you should take to keep your candle business flourishing:
Keep in touch with your customer
Understanding and knowing your customers is the key to any business endeavor. You want to keep them coming back, and that’s why you need to offer the best candles. My advice is to always have these two questions in mind: “What do my customers want?” and “Why do they want these candles?”.
Don’t compromise quality
Maintaining consistent quality of your candles can be tough due to the process or high demand, especially during holidays. To make sure you don’t compromise quality, write down a list of procedures and steps that will help you create the same candles continuously.
Promote your candle-making business
Promoting your business involves analyzing various marketing channels, choosing the ones that perform best, maintaining a good customer relationship, and exploring engaging ways to make your homemade candles more known. Talk to people about your business and highlight the things that make your products special and different from those that already exist on the market.
Final thoughts on how to make candles to sell
Starting your own candle-making business is a great way to earn some extra money while using your creativity and doing what you like.
The first important step you should start with is market research. Once you understand what people's preferences are, you can continue with building your business. Decide on a company candle name, create a story, find a design that stands out, and register your homemade candle business at local government offices.
Once you’re legal, all you have to do is promote your products, sell, and continue promoting. Don’t forget that it is essential to maintain high quality products and service in order to retain your customers and delight them over and over again with your unique, scented candles.