You've stumbled upon the idea to build a candle business and now you're ready to take the next steps.
There's a lot to think about when building a business, so we put together a guide on how to get started, launch, grow and run your candle business.
We also provide you with real-life case studies and examples of founders running successful candle business businesses (and how much💰 they're making today).
Is the candle business for you?
Before we dive into the specifics of starting your own candle business, it's important to identify if this business is right for you.
Candles are a big commodity, so it's important that you have crafty and creative skills to differentiate your product from the rest.
One great reason to start a candle business is that you can essentially decide whether you want it to be a part-time or full-time gig.
A lot of entrepreneurs in the space even start candle making as a hobby and then turn it into a business, to ensure it's something they really love and want to focus on.
DShawn Russel, founder of Southern Elegance Candle Company did just that and turned her business into a $20K/month revenue source:
I started Southern Elegance right after my son was born as a hobby.
Initially, I made a bunch of random bath and body products in addition to the candles. When I decided to get serious, I looked at everything and decided to just focus on one product and chose candles because they had the potential to be the most profitable.
I was working in education at the time and I absolutely hated it. One day walked into work and quit my job to make candle making a full-time career.
According to the National Candle Association candle sales are estimated at $3.13 billion annually.
Additionally, below you can see that search volume for "candles" spike in December (high volume of sales during the holiday season), and remain at a steady pace the rest of the year and up until now.
Small Players (the opportunity)
How to name your candle business
It's important to find a catchy name for your candle business so that you can stand out in your space.
Here are some general tips to consider when naming your candle business
- Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
- Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
- Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
- As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!
Here's some inspiration for naming your candle business:
- Candelvana Candles
- Smells Good
- Purple Broom
- Wishful Blaze
- Holiday Candles
- Brite Shine
- Rainbow candle
- Bright light candle
- Soy Serene
- City Candles
- Trusted Twinkle
- Glass Wax
- Candle Cabinets
- Candle Caddy
- Making Scents
- Star Brite Illuminations
- Good Smells
- Candle Joy
- Grace Direct
- The Candied Candle
- Perfect Match
- Cup of Ceremony
- Wild Bee Candle Company
- Quick Wick
- Glisten and Glow
- The Candle Company
- Circle Shadow
- Royal Candles
- Wick Pick
- Flame wax candle
- Cali Custom Candles
- Time & Again
- Four R Candles
- Inner Flick Candles
- Star candle
- Shadowlight Candles
- The Candle Carvers
- Archipelago Botanicals
- Melted Wax
- Candle Creators
- Lighted Luxury
- Bag O’ Wax
- Slow Burn
- Royal wax candle
- Great Bear Wax Co.
- Life-light candle
- Ink & Peat
- Northstar Country Candle
- Cool Candles
- Fabulous Flame
- New Flame Candles
- Flame Game
- Sensuous Smells
- Creative Candles
- Flame Game
- Heaven Scent It
- Bee Lucia Wellness
- Kandle Kingz
- Diamond Creek Candles
- Candle Corner
- Magic Moon
- Knight glow candle
- Bedtime candle
- Wishful blaze candle
- Wax Bling
- Homestead Candles
- Dreams & Rainbows
- Bedwax candle
- Soy Selection
- Wildflower Candles
- Pink Cupcake Candle Co.
- Blue Mercury
- Kandle Kings
- Kindred lite candle
- Candle Creations
- Superlyn Candle Co.
- Family Candle
- Classic Candles
- The Scented Candle
- Aromatic Fillers
Example of a clever candle company name
Homesick Candles did an exceptional job all around when it comes to their branding + name.
In a nutshell, they sell candles with the name of the place you grew up with a scent that reminds you of that place (ie. Wyoming with a scent of camping in the woods).
These candles are often gifted to friends/family that love and miss their hometown (and might be feeling a little homesick).
- The name explains exactly what their mission is
- Short, easy to spell and easy to remember
- Displayed front and center on the product
- Targets a very specific niche
Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your candle business.
Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.
For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.
You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:
- Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
- Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
- Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
- Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
- Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
- Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
- Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
- Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
- Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.
Identify Target Customer
A very critical piece in building candle business is to identify your ideal target customer.
- Develop a niche and create a consistent brand that reflects your target customer.
- The colors, logo, content, and overall website should resonate with your target customer and should draw them in by helping them solve their specific "need".
Lauren Costanza, founder of Bluminary explains the importance of finding your niche:
It is your responsibility to find your niche and advertise toward those people.
No matter how many candle companies there are, I know I’m trying to capture an audience interested in natural scents and nature, so I’ll take all the advice I can from other candle makers.
How To Manufacture Candles
Making candles isn't too difficult, but there is a science to it.
We've outlined a few tips to consider when getting started, and refer you to this behind the scenes video of how DShawn Russel manufactures her candles
1. Decide the type of wax you want
The most common types are soy, parrafin and parrafin-soy blend
2. Identify the fragrance style you want
This depends on the target audience you are going for. For example:
- Mass Market are great for scents such as vanilla, lavender, strawberry
- Mid-market (one level up) typically prefer grapefruit or lemongrass
- High-end (prestige) market look for more unique and complex scents like fig tree and blossom & basil
3. Research supply companies to source products
DShawn Russel, founder of Southern Elegance Candle Company describes her process of manufacturing her first product (and how they scaled):
Making candles isn't that difficult, melt some wax, add fragrance and color, pour in a jar and let harden. But, my first candles were terrible! I had to use local items. So I had wax and fragrance from Hobby Lobby and jars from Walmart. I quickly realized this wouldn’t work because
- The quality was horrible and
- You can’t scale a company buying supplies from local retail stores.
So, I researched local candle supply companies. CandleScience became my main supplier. They were local and carried professional-grade products.
When I first started in my home, all I had was two pots and my stove. After a few months, I bought my first large wax melter and moved into the garage. Two months after that I bought another melter and started looking for my first space outside of my garage.
I live in a small town (approximately 5000 people) so the manufacturing space wasn't available. My first space was a small restaurant. We stored fragrance in the former freezers and wax in the former deep fryers.
If you are planning to start a candle business, the costs are relatively low. This of course, depends on if you decide to start the business on your own or bring on a big team at first.
We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of a candle business and outline the costs you should expect for each:
- The estimated minimum starting cost = $1,345
- The estimated maximum starting cost = $22,800
|Startup ExpensesThese numbers are based off the average expenses incurred when starting a candle business.||Min Startup CostsDefined as an candle business you have started and plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs.||Max Startup CostsDefined as an candle business you have started with one other full-time planner. You decided to rent out an office space to set up the business.|
|Licenses and Business FormationThis refers to setting up your business license and establishing any legal contracts.||$250||$1,000|
|PayrollThis number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary up front and the amount of employees you hire. The average salary for a full-time candle business individual is||$0||$4,000|
|Equipment and TechnologyThis includes (but is not limited to) any expenses such as: laptops, office supplies and technology platforms||$500||$5,000|
|Advertising/PromotionThis includes (but not limited to): paid ads, public relations, networking events etc.||$200||$2,000|
|Website and Email HostingCosts to host website, domain names and email||$100||$300|
|Website Design (Outsourced)Hiring an outside contractor to assist with design elements of your website||$0||$5,000|
|RentThis refers to the office space you decide to work in. Depending on the cost of living, this number could vary.||$0||$2,500|
|Candle SuppliesThis includes but is not limited to: scents, wicks, jars, melting pot||$295||$3,000|
|Total Starting Costs||$1,345 (min)||$22,800 (max)|
Lauren Costanza, founder of Bluminary provides us with a detailed spreadsheet of all of her startup costs:
I knew this would be a self-funded adventure, and I set aside $3,000. During the first three months, I had a detailed spreadsheet where I tracked where the money was going and what was going toward products versus researching and developing new products.
Since the startup costs to start candle business range between $1,345 - $22,800, there are ways you can raise money to cover these costs.
Here are a few ways you can secure additional funding:
- Launch your product on Kickstarter
- Raise capital by asking friends and family
- Apply for a loan
- Find an investor!
How Much Profit Can a Candle Business Make?
Candle businesses sell both B2C or through retailers (boutiques, third party platforms, giftshops etc).
Whether you are selling a premium product or a mass product, profit margins are typically around 50% or higher.
It's important to get all materials at competitive prices (wholesalers) to ensure that your margins remain high.
Depending on the amount of time and energy you put into your candle business, this can be a very fruitful business opportunity. We've interviewed a few entrepreneurs whom are at different stages in their business and asked them how they're doing today:
- 3 employees
- 4 years in
- Side hustle that turned into a full-time gig
- Started selling at the farmers market and now selling through retail site, wholesale site and Faire.
- 1 employee
- A few months in
- Side project
- Selling in vendor events and on Etsy
Make Sure You Get The Package Design Right
The way you package your candle business is often the first impression your customer has - so it's important to get it right.
You may want to ask yourself these questions:
If my product is on a shelf next to hundreds of other similar products:
- Will my candle business stand out?
- Will the branding/packaging create a connection with my customer, and hence, lead them to buy?
There are hundreds of tools you can use to help with packaging and design:
- Canva - Allows non-designers to create beautiful Instagram/Pinterest posts, flyers, business cards, etc.
- Stickermule - High quality custom stickers you can include on or in your packaging.
- Noissue - Custom tissue paper and compostable mailers
- Rollo Label Printer - A great tool to print all shipping labels at home
Setting Up Your Candle Business (Formation and Legal)
When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.
The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.
These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.
- LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
- S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
- C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.
Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.
Build A Website
Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).
- Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
- Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
- Make sure you choose the right theme and design
- Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)
To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.
How To Price Your Candles
Candle prices can range from $5-$50. This all depends on the
- Type of scent used (traditional vs unique scent combinations)
- Type of packaging and aesthetic
- Story behind the brand
Keep in mind that the way you price your candle should be a direct reflection of the target audience you are going after.
Let's look at two different candle examples:
Mass Market Option: Yankee Candle ($11 each)
This is a good example of a "simple" product that reaches a specific audience:
- Mainstream scent (vanilla cupcake)
- Simple glass jar
- Old-fashioned branding
- 20-30hr burn time
High-End Market Option: Voluspa
- More complex scent (Baltic Amber)
- Etched unique glass
- 100hr burn time
- Sold primarily in Anthropologie (high-end store)
There are various different marketplaces that you can sell your candles, whether that's local or online!
Here are some of the most common ones:
- Your own website! Shopify is known to be the best for e-commerce stores
- Local places! Gift shops, farmers markets, festivals, grocery stores etc
- Etsy - E-commerce website for craft supplies
- Faire - Wholesale marketplace
Plan A Strategic Launch
There are various different ways you can launch your candle business successfully.
Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your candle business.
- Build hype with a landing page: you can effectively do this through waiting lists, discounts, countdown timer etc
- Create a teaser video: even just a 30 second video is a great way to exposure for your candle business, and possibly even go viral
- Reach out to influencers: The right influencer for your product has the ability to reach your audience with just one post, and because of their loyal following, this could lead to a big return for you.
- Get Press: Whether you plan a PR stunt or get exposure through a popular news outlet, this is a great way to attract initial customers
- Launch on popular sites: A great way to get buzz about your candle business is to submit your launch to popular startup sites.
Here are a few popular sites to launch on:
Learn more about how to launch your business successfully ➜ here
Advertise Through Social Media
Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to candle business.
There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.
Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:
- Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
- Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
- Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
- Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
- LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses
It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:
Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:
- Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
- Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
- Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?
From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!
Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.
DShawn Russel, founder of Southern Elegance Candle Company explains how social media is key to attracting and retaining customers:
Use your social media platforms to drive traffic to your website.
- Make your posts engaging and relevant to your community.
- BUILD YOUR COMMUNITY through social media.
- Facebook groups, Facebook business pages, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
- Make sure people know what you do and what you SELL.
- Don't be afraid to sell… don't beat people over the head with constantly trying to sell them stuff, that gets old… but provide information and entertainment and then ask for the sale.
- Remind people of what you are selling and give them a reason to buy it. If you don't have time to post every day, use a scheduler like Buffer.
Most importantly, create engaging content!
Here's a before and after photo from one of our campaigns:
Improve your SEO
SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.
One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."
Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your candle business.
- Google Ads Keyword Planner invaluable for discovering search trends.
- Google Search Console is very helpful once your website is up as it shows you what words/phrases are generating traffic.
- Ahrefs and SEMRush are paid tools that allow you to look at results of your competitor's website
Learn more about the fundamentals of SEO ➜ here
Diversify Your Product Line
Often times, if you've identified a new trend or want to experiment with new products and markets, a great way to do this is by expanding your product line.
Diversification allows you to reach new audiences and if done correctly, can help get more exposure for your brand and increase profits.
For the candle business, there are a number of ways you can do this, whether it be:
- Add new fragrances
- Switch up the design/packaging to target new customers (ie. candles for camping and outdoors vs candles for living room)
- Create soaps and lotions with some of your most popular scents
- Start selling apparel
Southern Elegance Candle Company felt as if they were only "scratching the surface" and decided to expand their product:
Southern Elegance will develop into a lifestyle brand. If you create a community of like-minded people and create products they like, they will begin to trust you.
And in turn, you can sell anything. Although we sell candles, what we really sell is a community. We sell culture and a sense of belonging, candles just happen to be the product. We are really going to focus on serving our community/customers in the coming years by leveraging social media.
In 2020, we plan on introducing Southern-themed apparel. If that goes well, then bath and body products. Once we build the community, we can sell them anything that supports our mission of celebrating Southern Culture.
Grow Your Email List
The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.
One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.
This could also be anything from:
- Fascinating case study
- Video series
- Free week of the product
- Discount on the product
Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.
Dylan Jacob, founder of Brumate states their email collection tactic that is proven to work:
We use Spin-a-Sale for this (you spin a wheel for a discount code in exchange for subscribing to our email list). This has been the best email-collecting tool we have found because the customer truly feels like they won a prize rather than just a coupon code.
If you can afford to hire someone to help support your candle business, outsourcing is a great way to save you time and energy.
Most importantly, outsourcing can help you focus on the core growth of your business, versus spending your time on day to day tasks that other people can do just as well!
If you do plan to outsource your work, it's important to be hyper-familiar with the actual work involved.
Why is it important to be hyper-familiar with the work?
- So you can understand how long it takes
- So you understand the full process, edge cases, things that can go wrong.
- So you can explain it in detail to your employee.
- So you can make sure it actually works (for example - how do you know cold email works for your business if you’re not on the ground floor trying it out?)
- Understanding the tasks at a deep level will save you a lot of time and money.
Lauren Costanza, founder of Bluminary Candles identified the need to hire a freelancer photographer (versus just doing it herself):
I am working to improve lifestyle photography at Bluminary.
While it is challenging to sell candles, people cannot smell over the internet. I know one way to help improve the customer journey is with high-quality photography.
If anyone around the world has experience with lifestyle photography, I am more than happy to mail them a candle or two to take photos of them in a nature-inspired setting.
I am always on the lookout for someone with a critical eye for photography.
How To Retain Customers
Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your candle business.
Often times, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.
Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer, than you are a new customer.
That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.
Here are some ways you can retain customers for your candle business:
- Responding to comments on social media
- Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
- Provide valuable content, for free
- Write hand written thank you notes
- Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers
To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here
Roberta Perry, founder of ScrubzBody Skin Care Products gives us her #1 secret to retaining customers and getting new ones:
Hand written notes go into every online order box. But online and on social media we love on our customers as well.
We comment on every post someone writes to us. We respond. If we know them, we add additional comments. We try and make the conversation between us seem as natural as if they were purchasing at our shop.
We remember that no matter how great the product is that we offer, if we don’t give our customers the best of ourselves and the best of our team, then we will lose them to a competitor in the future.
Tools to get started:
As a candle business, there are some tools and platforms you may want to consider when getting started:
- Wholesale tools such as Faire.com
- Affiliate tools such as Affiliatly
- Design tools such as Canva
- Reviews tools such as YotPo
- Shipping tools such as Order Printer Templates
- Email tools such as Privy or Klaviyo
- Platform tools such as Etsy, Amazon or Shopify
- How I Started A $20K/Month Southern Inspired Candle Business
- How I Started A $500/Month Nature-Inspired Candles Side Hustle
- The Everything Candlemaking Book
- Art of Candle Making Business Startup
- The Complete Candle Making Recipes For Beginners To The Expert
- Clockwork Mike Michalowicz Helps to teach you how to automate the business processes.
- Hot Products: How to Make Candles Into A Blazing Business
- Candle Box Packaging Design for Inspiration
- Behind the scenes process on how to make candles
- Beginners guide to making candles
- How to Make Soy Wax Candles - Tips and Tricks from an Expert