Fragrance can be a powerful thing. Think about how specific smells can instantly help you feel calmer, remind you of a special memory, or make a home seem more welcoming.
It’s no wonder then that candles are such a popular item with consumers all around the globe! They allow people to indulge in an affordable way and can transform any environment with their scent, appearance, and glow.
With all this in mind, if you’re dedicated to the art of candle making, launching a business that sells these aromatic decorative items may be ideal for you. Besides candles being in demand nearly everywhere, making them doesn’t require lots of equipment or technical expertise, and the start-up costs are relatively low.
In this article, I’ll discuss everything you need to know to learn how to start your own candle business and share your unique fragrant creations with the world!
What types of candles can you make and sell?
Candles are great for ecommerce due to there being many different ways to go about making and selling them. Regardless of your ideal buyer, you’re certain to find a candle to make that appeals to the shoppers you’re hoping to reach.
If you’re in need of some inspiration, check out some of the most popular types of candles below to determine the version that matches the needs of your new business!
When it comes to affordability, paraffin candles come out on top. Relatively inexpensive to produce, these candles are crafted from a paraffin-wax base, whose form is white, soft, and solid. They’re also known for being able to carry scents well, which is great if a strong fragrance is important to your customers!
However, it’s important to note that while paraffin candles usually contain food-grade wax to prevent harm to the environment as well as to those using them, they’re not natural and do tend to produce more soot than other kinds of candles.
Nevertheless, many well-known candle brands continue to use paraffin in their goods, and it’s still the most popular base material for candles today.
Clean Cotton paraffin candle by Yankee Candle
If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly alternative to paraffin, soy is an excellent option. Derived from a renewable resource, this type of candle produces much less soot and burns for longer periods of time than its paraffin counterpart.
Furthermore, more and more shoppers are looking to eliminate animal materials from the products that they buy. Traditional candles often contain ingredients derived from animals and insects such as beeswax, but soy wax allows you to make vegan candles to entice environmentally conscious consumers.
With fewer repercussions for the environment and their ability to last longer, soy candles are quickly increasing in popularity with brands around the world.
What may cause you to hesitate to use soy candles for your business is the fact that they’re usually more expensive to craft. In addition, they tend to not hold on to fragrances as well.
Champagne Toast soy wax blend candle by Bath and Body Works
These days, a growing number of consumers are looking to add decorative candles to their homes or work spaces. This type of candle can come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, and it doesn’t necessarily need to feature an amazing scent…its major purpose is to add visual interest to the space in which it’s located.
With an emphasis on the exterior rather than the interior, decorative candles also often feature accessories and come in a special container to further add to their aesthetic appeal. Although they frequently don’t burn for as long as other kinds of candles, there’s still a very significant demand for them, as they can do wonders for transforming any space with their addition.
Apple decorative candle by Bitossi Home
Scented or aromatherapy candles are also quite commonplace in the candle industry. With these candles, you’ll find an extensive array of fragrances to either mask other odors or just to help create an all-the-more-enjoyable ambiance with aromas that are pleasing to the user.
Just like with decorative candles, this product can be crafted from numerous kinds of wax. Some candle makers add specific essential oils to their candles to provide customers with the healing benefits of aromatherapy.
If you’d like to make scented candles for your own business, know that there are many different fragrances from which to choose. While it’ll be important for you to do your research and determine your niche before you get busy creating batches upon batches of product, here are some of the most popular scents used in candles today.
- Lavender: A year-round favorite, lavender is known around the world for its excellent calming properties. It’s ideal for shoppers looking for a soothing scent that’ll add a sense of tranquility to their environment.
- Vanilla: This comforting fragrance tops the list of fave fragrances for many consumers, as it’s somewhat of a neutral scent that works well in nearly any space. Bringing to mind memories of freshly baked sugar cookies, it’s no wonder that vanilla is such a hit for lovers of gourmand aromas.
- Citrus: Lemon, orange, lime…whichever citrus fruit takes center stage in your candle, you can be sure that it’ll appeal to a large number of shoppers! Invigorating and fresh, citrus candles are designed to wake up the senses.
- Apple: A fragrance that works especially well for summer and autumn, the apple scent is a top-seller for many of the biggest candle manufacturers. Keep it simple and light to evoke thoughts of warm weather or add a bit of cinnamon to get consumers in the mood for fall.
- Cotton: Cotton or fresh linen is a classic scent that tends to do well all throughout the year, and for good reason. This clean, crisp fragrance has the power to add calmness to any room.
- Rose: Shoppers who adore florals often reach for candles boasting a lovely rose fragrance when given the option. However, note that while for some people, rose-scented candles allow them to imagine they’re in a peaceful garden, others may feel like they’re stuck in a room full of old-timey perfume…this fragrance can require a little more care to get right!
- Gardenia: Gardenia is another popular scent for candle makers aiming to attract shoppers who appreciate floral fragrances. Zesty and fresh, this opulent white flower produces a scent that’s strong yet not overpowering.
- Pumpkin: Candles featuring pumpkin and spice are especially a hit in the autumn and winter months. Consider trying different combinations of spices with pumpkin to craft your own, one-of-a-kind blend to appeal to your target market.
- Coconut: Incorporating this fragrance into your products will no doubt get your customers dreaming of sunny days on the beach. Conjuring memories from enjoyable vacations past and imagining trips yet to come, coconut is one of the top options for candle fans everywhere.
- Teakwood: Perfect for if you’re hoping to create a candle to appeal to shoppers during the colder months, teakwood is a popular warm, woodsy scent that helps to up the coziness level of any space. What’s more, it can be a great option if you want to attract customers whose candle preferences differ from the abundance of floral or sweet varieties available.
Black Vanilla scented candle by Zara Home
Provide your customers with an extra level of sensory delight by creating wooden-wick candles. Different from traditional candles which often have wicks made from cotton, this option has wicks made from…you guessed it…wood!
Wooden-wick candles generate a crackling sound that mimics burning firewood—a noise that resonates with many people, as it tends to bring a well-appreciated sense of calmness. In addition, they usually offer a cleaner burn and burn slower than their cotton-wick alternatives.
Considering the sound that this type of candle makes, it can be beneficial to think about what kinds of fragrances would accompany the noise well, such as perhaps smoky woodsy aromas. This would allow you to craft a candle that provides shoppers with an even more enjoyable user experience.
Apple Honey Butter wooden-wick candle by DW Home
How do you start a candle business?
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what types of candles you can craft, you’re probably curious to discover what you need to do to begin your fragrance-filled adventure…rest assured, we won’t prolong the suspense.
Let’s take a look at how to start your new candle business, step by step!
1. Research the market
Regardless of your product, whether you’re trying to figure out how to start a clothing line, how to start a jewelry business, or how to start a candle business, it’s essential that you begin by performing some market research. After all, even if you think you have the most creative, exciting idea on the planet, if it doesn’t fill a need or appeal to consumers, you’ll have a hard time earning a profit.
With this first step, you’ll examine the current state of the market and identify your ideal customer, who your products are most likely to attract. When it comes to the candle industry, you can separate the various markets into three groups.
- Mass market
If you aim to appeal to the greatest number of shoppers possible, creating affordable, mass-market candles is going to be your best bet. Typically retailing for around $5 to $8 depending on their size, these candles are often available in basic scents such as vanilla. Candle giant Yankee Candle is a prime example of a brand that’s found great success in the mass market.
A step up from the previous group, mid-market candles are more expensive, generally in the range of $10 to $25. Often found in stores like Target, these candles’ appeal derives from them usually having fragrances that are a bit more unique and still being pretty affordable.
Finally, if you’re looking to craft candles for the luxury-loving crowd, the prestige market is likely ideal for your business. While this is a newer segment, it’s quickly taken off and continues to grow, with brands like Diptyque, also known for their perfumes and beauty products, being successful in this market. Prestige candles can differ greatly in price, but they generally retail somewhere between $30 and $80, with larger candles often selling for even $100+!
Once you determine which market you’d like to direct your efforts towards, take note of what fragrances and candle styles these consumers are already buying. What brands would likely be your competitors? How could you improve upon what the competition is already doing?
The importance of this step can’t be overstated, as your target market affects not just your products and their ingredients but also your branding, your website, marketing strategy, packaging, and more!
2. Hone your candle-making skills
As it’s fairly easy to launch a candle business, you’re bound to come up against quite a bit of competition. Combine that with offering a lackluster product, and you may very well find that your adventure as an ecommerce entrepreneur ends more quickly than you’d hoped.
For this reason, it’s crucial that you take the time to work on your craft. After deciding on your target market, you should have an even better idea of what kinds of candles are likely to appeal to potential customers.
A high-quality candle should assist with diminishing the user’s stress or creating a pleasant ambiance, whether that’s via the product’s fragrance, appearance, or both. Unfortunately, when it comes to fragrances, it’s very easy to make one that’s “too” something…be it too floral, too sweet, etc. You can also easily go too far in the other direction and craft a candle that users can barely smell. Either way, the customer is likely to not be happy with their purchase!
You’ll probably have to do a considerable amount of testing to get the fragrances of your candles right in order to come up with unique scents that consumers will enjoy having in their living spaces. Don’t hesitate to ask your friends and family for their opinions on fragrances, since what smells like heaven to you may not not be so pleasing to others.
Besides determining the fragrances for your candles, you’ll want to be sure that you know how to create a candle that burns for a while and has a decent “throw” (how far the scent travels).
If you’re new to making candles, don’t stress! I’ll explain the basic steps of how to craft one later on in Step 7.
3. Establish your brand
Next, you’ll establish your brand, which is especially critical for saturated markets, as will be the case for your candle business. Building your brand will help you to not only design better goods to sell but also to grow your audience and optimize your marketing plan.
To complete this step, think about how your business can stand out from the crowd.
First, remember that fragrance is really important in the candle industry. A great way to draw shoppers to your business is to craft candles with unique scents that people will love. While it can be tempting to go with standard fragrances, consider putting in the effort to create one-of-a-kind blends that’ll give your brand an edge over the competition.
Second, take a look at your brand story and what messages you want to convey to consumers. Nowadays, shoppers are placing an increasing emphasis on how a company makes them feel. Although they might purchase one of your products due to curiosity, feeling a connection to your brand is what will turn them into loyal customers. To determine your brand story, ask yourself why you’re creating candles in the first place and what impact you hope to have by launching your business.
Third, spend some time on your branding, comprising elements such as your company logo, ecommerce site, social media accounts, packaging, etc. You might expect that your amazing product will speak for itself, but in today’s world, visual identity often plays an essential role in the success of a business. This also means considering the visual appeal of your candles themselves, as the aesthetic of your products should resonate with the people you’re trying to reach.
Tubéreuse candle by Diptyque, a branding expert
4. Choose your business name
Just like when you start an online boutique, when creating a candle company, it’s important to choose the right business name. You may already have one or several names in mind, but it’s now time to narrow your selection down to your favorite!
Note that it’s advantageous to keep the name of your candle business simple. A short-but-sweet name will make it easier for people to remember your business and tell others about it when they’ve had a great experience shopping on your website.
In addition, be sure to do a quick Google search and check with your local and/or federal business registration office to confirm that the name you have in mind is actually available. Once you’ve established that nobody else is already using the name, it’s a good idea to register your business as soon as possible.
Tip: Don’t forget to secure your domain name and social media handles on your chosen platforms too! These can quickly be reserved by somebody else, so it’s advisable to obtain them very quickly after determining what name you’d like to use for your business.
5. Develop a business plan
If you dream of launching your own candle business, you're probably itching to begin mixing up ingredients and experimenting with recipes to craft exciting new creations to sell, and writing your business plan may sound like a lot less fun!
Nevertheless, this a critical step in starting your entrepreneurial adventure, as it serves as a detailed plan concerning how you aim to run your operation. This is where you’ll specify your business goals, outline your strategy, make note of any expected challenges, and analyze your competition.
Remember to also examine the cost of starting your online boutique and discuss how you plan to finance your business. Keep in mind that if you hope to acquire money from outside sources, such as investors or a bank, for your launch, you’ll need to prove in your business plan that your idea has value and potential.
6. Obtain any required insurance, licenses, and permits
Another less fun yet important part of starting a candle business is getting all the necessary paperwork in order, including any necessary insurance, licenses, and permits. The specific items that you’ll need will depend on your local and/or federal government, so be sure to check with your chamber of commerce or a lawyer if you’re unsure of the exact demands for your location.
However, general requirements tend to include registering your business, getting a tax number, and obtaining a license or multiple licenses to run your business. Because making candles requires extra safety precautions, as you’ll be working with flammable materials, you’ll likely need to also secure permits and insurance. Take note of your local fire codes as well.
Of course, you’ll also need to think about whether you plan on operating solo or having employees. If you’re going to be hiring people to work for you, you should look into all the requirements for employers, such as having disability, unemployment, and workers’ compensation insurance.
7. Gather supplies and begin making candles to sell
You’re now ready to get to the more creative side of things and start creating the first batches of candles for your store!
If you don’t already have supplies on hand, check out a few of your local craft supply stores to determine where you can get the items you need for the best price. Keep in mind, however, that while this strategy may work just fine when your business is in its initial growing stages, you’ll probably have to begin purchasing materials in bulk from wholesale suppliers to save money as your sales increase.
Here’s a list of supplies you’ll need to get started, many of which you may already have:
- fragrance oils or essential oils,
- double boiler,
- candle containers,
- straws, and
At this point, you’ll probably have a better understanding of what kind of candles you’d like to make and sell. Although there’s a good chance you’ve already had some practice crafting them, we’ll go through the basic steps for making candles just as a refresher.
- Prepare the wax
Although paraffin and soy are the most widely used wax for candles, other options such as beeswax and gel, palm, vegetable, and granulated wax are also available. Using your preferred formula, take a kitchen scale and measure the necessary amount of wax for your chosen container size.
- Melt wax in a double boiler
Next, place your double boiler on the stove. Add water to the bottom pot and your accurately measured wax to the top pot, and then turn on the heat, using a spatula to stir the wax so it’s smooth. Depending on the form of wax you’ve chosen, the required water temperature to get the wax to melt may vary. Having a thermometer on hand will assist in ensuring that you’re using the right heating strategy.
- Add fragrance/essential oil(s) and/or dye
Once the wax is melted, you can customize with any oils and dye you want to include for scent and color. Regarding the correct amounts to add, this is where lots of testing is needed to get just-the-right formulas!
However, a good starting point is to check the instructions provided by the manufacturers of the oils and dyes. When in doubt, especially where fragrance is concerned, start conservatively and increase the amount gradually.
- Get the wick ready
The wick is a crucial addition, as it aids in carrying wax to the flame to help the candle burn. The most common wicks are flat, but you can alternatively opt to use cored, square, or wooden wicks.
To get the wick ready, simply attach it to a metal tab and then secure it to the bottom of your chosen candle container using strong glue. Tie the top of the string to a straw place at the container opening to keep the wick in place.
- Pour wax into container
After the wax has slightly cooled, pour it into the container, being careful to ensure that the wick stays upright. Note: Because wax tends to leave a small hole in the center of the container once it’s completely hardened, keep a little bit of wax in the pan to fill the area later.
- Let cool
Make any last-minute adjustments to the wick so that’s centered in the container, and let the wax cool. Cooling time will differ depending on the wax used, anywhere from approximately 5 hours for soy to 24 hours for paraffin. Confirm that the wax is completely cooled before moving on to the next step.
- Trim wick
Using a pair of scissors, trim the wick so that about 1 cm is left on top of the candle.
- Add label
For the final step, place your label on the front of the container. This label should feature your company logo and any other applicable info, such as weight, fragrance details, etc. In addition, check your federal requirements to see if you need to include any caution notes or safety instructions, as these are often necessary.
8. Create your online store
Once your candles are all set, you’ll need someplace to sell them!
Although you can of course opt to sell your goods at a brick-and-mortar store, markets, or craft shows, creating an online store is an easy way to launch your entrepreneurial adventure. And for that, an outstanding ecommerce platform is essential.
We at WiziShop understand that there’s a lot that goes into starting an ecommerce business. For this reason, we aim to make the experience of creating and running an ecommerce site as easy as possible!
When you build your online store with WiziShop, you’ll enjoy an array of customizable templates, 400+ features integrated natively, super-fast loading speeds for your site, free training modules on all kinds of ecommerce-related topics, and access to our professional team of Business Coaches to assist you in achieving long-term success for your business.
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9. Market your candle business
Regardless of how amazing your ambrosial creations are, it’ll be difficult to make sales if people don’t know that they exist!
This is where a stellar marketing strategy comes into play. When you’re first getting started, you might feel overwhelmed with which channels to choose for your marketing efforts. While it’s beneficial to try multiple methods, only go for the ones to which you know that you can fully devote your resources, namely time and money.
Social media is generally an excellent place to begin, as there are many no-cost ways to promote your business on the various networks. As your business grows, you can later expand to email marketing, paid advertising, and more to further spread the word.
Starting a candle business: it just makes scents!
I couldn’t resist the pun, but in all seriousness, if you enjoy making candles and want to become your own boss, using the advice mentioned in this article can assist you with launching your candle business and transforming your vision into a reality.
Although the market is competitive, with the worldwide appreciation for candles and the relatively low cost to get started, there’s no shortage of opportunities for ambitious candle-making enthusiasts to find success!