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There’s something about the flicker of a flame that is inherently entrancing. t.Candles are now key home decor items, not for the light they offer, but for how they treat our senses. They offer aesthetic beauty, indulgent aromas and a crackling wick can mean the flame even offers a relaxing soundtrack.
It’s unsurprising that candles are such a popular home purchase. What’s more, candles are relatively easy to make, meaning that those who invest in the necessary skills and materials could well have a business on their hands.
But how to start a candle business? Let’s explore.
Benefits of owning a candle business
Before we get to the how, let’s first look at the why. Why should you choose to start a candle business? There are a few good reasons:
- A popular product: As mentioned above, candles have always been popular, and with modern scent and sound innovations it appears they’ll only become more so.
- Low barrier to entry: All you need to start a candle business is time and a few basic supplies. The upfront investment is far lower than most other businesses.
- Multiple selling options: Because candles are a treat for the senses, they’re a great product to sell at a market stall. Because they’re compact and easily shipped, they’re also an ideal ecommerce product.
- Customisable and scalable: Candles are easy to customise, so this is a business you can truly make your own. It’s also a scalable venture – because the basic recipe stays the same no matter how much you make, you can go as small or as big as you like!
Requirements to start a candle business
If you’re wondering how to start a candle-making business at home, the first thing you’ll need to understand are the requirements.
Skills and knowledge
The depth of skills and knowledge you need will depend on the type of candle business you plan to start. You might need skills and knowledge in:
- Candle-making: If you plan to make your own candles it’s wise to invest in a candle-making course.
- Selling: If you’re passionate about your product sales will probably come naturally, but if you plan to turn this into a full time job it might be worth investing in your selling skills.
- Business operations: As a business owner you’ll need to understand marketing, accounting, supply chain and more (though many people learn these skills on the job.)
Licences and permits
You won’t need much in the way of licences and permits to sell your candles, although there may be a couple of regulatory boxes to tick:
- Jurisdiction-specific permits: While food and cosmetics are regulated by specific Australian government departments, there’s no obvious candidate for candles. That said, you can use this government licence and permit checker to find out what licence and permit rules might apply, and it’s wise to have a basic warning label on the candle (it will be on fire after all!)
- Business registration: Like any business owner, you’ll need to register your enterprise by obtaining an Australian Business Number (ABN) or an Australian Company Number (ACN).
Insurance needed for a candle business
A candle business should find insurance that offers coverage against potentially debilitating events, including:
- Business insurance: Your insurance should cover product theft, loss and damage, but should also extend to your premises and its contents.
- Liability insurance: This type of insurance protects your businesses against a wealth of legal claims, such as in the (unlikely) event that a candle causes injury to a customer or third party.
Essential equipment and materials needed to start a candle business
The first step in how to start a candle-making business is to get the necessary equipment together for making candles. Candle makers require the following items:
- Tools: Double boiler, spatula, thermometer, pens/pencils.
- Materials: Raw wax (soy, paraffin, gel, beeswax, or any other appropriate type), wicks, super glue, fragrances/essential oils, colouring agents and glass jars.
- Business equipment: Computers, printers, scanners, phones, business software, a vehicle to attend markets and run around in.
Where to find and buy candle supplies
Where can you find all the necessary candle-making tools and materials? There are two main ways to find suppliers:
- Search online: Anything and everything can be found on the internet, including candle products and materials. Send emails or make calls to candle supply wholesalers to find pricing (which can vary greatly depending on order quantity.)
- Talk to other candle makers: There are many people who have walked this path before, and you might be surprised at how happy they are to help. Speak to other candle makers at markets, when you attend candle-making courses, or on social media.
Decide the type of candle to sell
The next step on your candle business journey is to choose exactly what type of candle you’re going to sell.
The candle business is quite competitive, so the best way to succeed is to find your niche. Try to choose a specific type of candle that you can market to a specific type of customer, then work to do it better than anyone else (this also makes stocking, marketing and running your business far easier.) There are a number of paths you could go down:
- Scented candles: Perhaps the most popular type of candle today, scented candles feature aromas that you develop by mixing fragrances and essential oils.
- Decorative candles: Decorative candles put the focus on aesthetics, whether by sculpting the candle into a unique shape, or choosing a beautiful receptacle to put the candle in.
- Custom candles: If you have a talent for making your customers’ candle dreams a reality, you might consider going into the custom candle business.
- Luxury candles: You can charge a lot more for your candles if you offer premium packaging, stunning fragrances, and an emphasis on branding and storytelling.
How to make candles (for beginners)
How exactly do you make candles? While there is a wealth of nuance to making truly gorgeous and unique candles – which is why we recommend taking a course – the basic method is as follows:
Get your tools and materials together: Collect up all the items listed in the ‘essential equipment and materials’ section above.
Glue the wick: Super glue the wick to the bottom of your jar.
Melt the wax: Melt your wax in the same way you melt chocolate – either in a double boiler or a glass bowl above a saucepan or pot of boiling water.
Customise your mix: Use essential oils to add aromas to your wax (60ml of oil per kg of wax.) If you want to add a unique tone as well, use colouring agents according to instructions.
Let it cool: Put your thermometer into the wax and wait til it cools to 55-60C.
Pour into jar: Use one hand to pour the mix into your jars, holding the wick with the other. Fill the jar about three-quarters of the way up.
Tie the wick: Tie the wick around a pen or pencil placed across the opening of the jar, to keep the wick straight and tight while the wax cools.
Do a second pour: Once the initial pour has cooled, fill the remaining quarter of the jar with wax (this helps to ensure there are no air pockets in your candles.)
Trim the wick: Once the mixture is completely set, trim the wick so a centimetre or two protrudes from the wax.
Label and decorate: Now that the candle is made, it’s time to get it ready for sale by labelling and decorating it!
Market your business
Candles made, it’s time to turn to business development. You can’t expect that sales will just come – you’ll need to go out and get them. Here is a comprehensive marketing guide for small businesses, but the most effective strategies include:
- Creating a website: Creating a website should sit at the very top of your to-do list. An online shop is your digital storefront, and allows you to market yourself affordably and effectively. Good news: with Square Online, creating an online store has never been easier!
- Word of mouth: People trust people, which is why word of mouth continues to be the most effective marketing channel there is. Spread the word of your new venture through family, friends and colleagues.
- At local markets: Customers love putting a face to a brand. Set up a stall at a local market, chat to passers-by and let them check out your goods.
- Via social media: Candles are made for social media. Invest in getting professional shots taken of your favourite products, and post regularly across Facebook, Instagram and any other platform that your target market uses.
Payment solutions for candle businesses
At Square we aim to make starting your own venture as easy as possible, by offering a complete suite of affordable and easy-to-use payment solutions.
- POS system: A point of sale (POS) system can form a complete business system for a candle maker – Square POS, for example, is capable of taking payments, offering loyalty rewards and tracking cash flow.
- EFTPOS machine: If you simply need to take payments, an EFTPOS machine like Square Terminal offers an instant, secure and cost-effective way to accept card and contactless payments.
- Portable credit card reader: Even simpler again, portable card readers like Square Reader plug straight into your phone, allowing you to accept chip and contactless payments through your device – ideal for market days!
Now that you know how to start a candle business, what’s stopping you? If you’re ready to create and sell products that delight the senses, our team at Square is ready to help.