You’re always 84 candles away from starting a candle business.
The 84 Candle Rule is a something everyone interested in starting a candle business should follow before they start one.
Far too often, the allure of running a home fragrance store online or in person summons the entrepreneurial spirit but leads to burnout and disappointment.
Creating a successful business from candles requires two skills:
- Candle making skills (#1)
- Business skills (#2)
Most people start out with none of those but expect to YouTube their way into “success” (more on that later).
The reality is candle making entrepreneurship comes with dramatically high dropout rates once most people see the saturation in the market and how difficult creating a business-worthy candle really is.
Enter: The 84 Candle Rule.
It goes a little something like this:
Before you even begin to sell candles, create 84 of them and give almost all of them away.
There’s a lot underneath this simple rule.
Graduate from using candle making kits
You won’t be able to make 84 candles from a candle making kit alone.
You’ll need more wax, your batch size will be very limited, and you’ll miss out on some of the key equipment pro candle shops use too.
Since you really trying to learn how to start a candle business, don’t lock yourself in to using the tools and supplies included in a kit anyways.
Well, they’re really intended for small weekend craft projects and people interested in trying out candles for fun – not building your fragrance empire.
It’s okay if you’ve already bought a kit and love it, but consider graduating into more substantial supplies and equipment:
- Presto Pot or Deep Fryer, versus a double boiler
- Heat gun
- 4-lb pour pot (most kits include smaller version)
Granted, if you make your first few candles with a kit and realize you don’t really love it – take that as a positive sign that you didn’t invest time and money into something you wouldn’t enjoy.
The 84 Candle Rule will equip and inform you wit what it takes to fulfill the candle making skill part of starting a business.
Additionally, seeking better equipment helps alleviate the pain of dealing with true beginner tools.
Some people give up because using their glass thermometer (versus an IR thermometer) or tiny little pour pot was too cumbersome.
Too much maintenance, or too little output.
Investing in better equipment allows you to have an honest look at the craft by removing the annoyances you wouldn’t actually deal with in a business.
The last reason you should quit is because the tools sucked.
There are better tools.
Buy them if you truly want to see the craft as it’s meant to be seen.
Focus on the craft first
Make sure to give most of your 84 candles away for free.
Burnout and stress come from the young candle maker who tries to balance the world of sales while learning the craft, and she rarely succeeds at both.
Giving everything you make away ensures you don’t get distracted by the business side of this world.
Think of it as putting one foot in front of the other when you’re learning to move around: candle making is walking, and selling candles is a sprint.
Learn to walk first.
The skills from #1 and #2 don’t overlap.
Too many people try to learn the business side as they go, ultimately setting themselves up for failure.
If you give everything you make away, pricing won’t worry you. Laser focus on creating incredible candles, the foundation of your work.
Sales, while something you have to learn to run a business, are distracting. Avoid these pitfalls in your first 84 candles:
- Label designs
- Company name
- Materials costs and pricing
- Appeal of containers to buyers
- Product photography
- Business planning
Even though “business” is ringing in your head and you’re excited, keep it at bay for now.
If you learn to love the craft, you’ll be swimming in business-speak in no time.
Master the art of testing
Learning how to test candles will be your biggest asset in running a successful business.
So many people drop out of the craft because they don’t understand how to make candles behave a certain way.
In your first or next 84 candles, set at least four aside for testing.
In the United States, ASTM 2417 provides an industry standard (voluntary) for candle testing.
Whether you’re creating candles for hobby or business, testing becomes the number one skill in your candle making arsenal.
Does this candle smell good? Test to find out.
Is this safe to burn? Test to find out.
Which wick size do you need for that container? Test to find out.
Everything comes down to learning the right procedure for testing and then making the proper corrections.
Read the Armatage Candle Company guide to performing burn testing if you have no clue where to start.
Figure out how to buy supplies
Candle making kits don’t come with an abundance of supplies, so creating 84 candles forces you to learn another essential skill: finding and purchasing wax, fragrance, wicks, and other items.
Whether candles remains a hobby or becomes a business, locating and buying supplies befits your situation.
If you want to learn how to start a candle business, you need to learn how to find supplies too!
Keep these tips in mind for finding supplies:
- If you have a local candle supplies store, in-person pickup will always be less expensive.
- Hobby Lobby or Michaels offer supplies, but they aren’t professional quality. This is okay, since your primary focus is learning the craft.
- Fragrance oils and essential oils aren’t the same, but you can use either for making candles. Learn more here.
- 1 ounce of fragrance will create roughly two candles.
- 1 pound of wax will make about 3 candles.
- Bundle as much wax in one order as you can to optimize shipping costs from that supplier.
- Shop around!
Create a variety of candles
If you really want to learn how to start a candle business, you need exposure to more than just your main focus.
The best candle makers have dabbled in at least each of the main categories of wax and candle type.
Some operate as a generalist in the industry instead of a specialist – making and selling incredible varieties of candles!
When you eventually become a business, keep your product line hyper focused.
Before that moment, you should take the opportunity to try everything out, even if you don’t intend on landing there.
Testing out different waxes and candle types allows you to grow and mature in the craft.
You’ll understand some of the macro differences between waxes, and you may even find something you love more than your original idea!
Beyond all that, it’s better to say you’re a professional candle maker that’s at least made a few candles more than a single container candle and wax type – anyone can do that.
Depending on your budget, adding great variety might hurt more than it helps.
To truly test the market (waxes, wicks, varieties) you need about $100. You don’t have to, but more exposure sets you on a good path.
On a smaller budget, you’ll only afford more variety by using the double boiler method for creating candles since it only requires a pot and something to melt the wax in, usually a measuring glass.
You won’t be able to buy any containers in bulk and try out a few waxes either, because they’re expensive.
Instead, use old candle jars or cheap mason jars from the grocery store in the canning aisle.
You can always stop by the local craft store and settle for hobby wax too.
If you can afford to invest more into the craft, look for variety packs of wicks and waxes wherever you can find them.
The greater you can stretch your dollar during this period, the better!
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