How to Start a Candle Business: Secrets from Candle Startup

by Brenna Major

Updated

Alicia Reisinger didn’t know that starting a candle making business from her home would lead her to a million dollar operation with 14 employees and reach the shelves of stores like Whole Foods that make money reselling her products.

Her passion began with a medical diagnosis for her first child that encouraged her to slow down and pour candles.

Now, she’s sharing her best tips on how to start a candle business, and lessons she’s learned while starting her company, Wax Buffalo Pure Soy Candle Co.

Is it hard to start a candle business?

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(Credit: Wax Buffalo Co)

Any startup poses its own unique challenges, but Alicia encourages that candle making can be overall both lucrative and therapeutic, making it a relatively easy business to start from home, at least initially.

She tells us that there are certainly many problems to overcome, late hours, and hard times, but there are also huge celebrations, successes, and laughs along the way.

When preparing to launch your own candle business, you’ll need to be prepared for hardships to overcome and problems to solve.

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But with the right guidance you can take these challenges head on. Alicia shares with us some keys to success for new candlemakers who are looking to make their craft profitable in the future:

Alicia’s Keys to Success for Starting a Candle Business

  • Do it – Seriously. Don’t think too hard about it, just try.
  • Don’t spend a lot of money to get started – There is beauty and grace in the slow grow. Go slow and do it well. This is a business you can start with under 10k.
  • Collaborate with others – Surround yourself with humans smarter and more talented than you. In this case, learn from other business professionals how to sell candles.
  • Figure out your WHY– And never waiver from that. Hold strong to your why even when it’s hard, scary, or even unpopular.
  • Remember that today is not every day – If it was a bad one, it’s ok. It’s not your every day. If it was a good one, oh heck yes, celebrate that! Your days are cumulative of your everydays.

Trend on the Rise

Alicia says that the majority of candles currently being sold are made from paraffin wax. Since paraffin is a derivative of petroleum, it can be harmful and isn’t considered a clean ingredient to burn in your home. However since paraffin is inexpensive, it’s a popular ingredient for most candlemakers.

Is it smart to start a candle business?

With more popularity and interest surrounding handmade and local products lately, there are many reasons to choose to make and sell handcrafted candles.

Lots of people that make artisanal products are selling on Etsy or other websites to sell stuff.

For Alicia, her passion started as a young girl when she made her first candle for her grandma.

Maybe you have a similar sentiment attached to candles, but here are a few pros and cons to consider before diving into candle making for profit.

candle-making-pros-and-cons

Tactic for Success

One passion of Alicia’s that has taken her business far is her commitment to using quality ingredients. She says that “Wax Buffalo’s candles are created using 100% domestically sourced soy wax, cotton wicks, and a premium blend of plant based and phthalate-free fragrance oil.” When you’re gathering ingredients to start making candles, pay attention to these ingredient’s quality.

How to Start a Candle Business at Home

Before any business’s success comes planning, planning, and more planning. Be sure to carefully map out your candle business’s road to success by prepping and enacting a solid business plan.

This will be one of the first steps to starting your candle business out on the right foot.

Alicia has learned a thing or two about business planning while starting Wax Buffalo, weathering a Pandemic, and overcoming challenges as well as celebrating successes along the way.

She shares with us some tips for how to guide your candle business to success with a valuable and flexible business plan.

Wax Buffalo’s Business Planning Secrets

  • Establish a living document – Having a plan that can shift if needed is an important piece of advice from Alicia. She says the mobility of her plan allows for success.
  • Be flexible  – Alicia says it’s important to be flexible and “pivot easily” in order to roll with the punches as a business.
  • Use your business plan as a guide – An organized business plan is vital, and Alicia calls Wax Buffalo’s business plan her “strategic north star.”
  • Collaborate while you’re planning– Alicia uses her team as a sounding board for the future of the company. “I very much value and seek out my team’s input and expertise,” she points out.

Tactic for Success

Building an awesome team has been one of Alicia’s greatest successes. She says she found a “team of amazing humans” who love Wax Buffalo as much as she does. Having a passionate and driven team working towards making quality products is one step you’ll want to take when building your candle business.

After drawing up a business plan, it’s time to gather the items you’ll need to begin making and selling your candles.

At a very basic level, there are several supplies you’ll definitely need to purchase.

Supplies Necessary for a Candle Startup

  • Candle wax – Alicia encourages omitting paraffin wax and opting for a cleaner wax blend such as soy.
  • Candle wicks  – Wax Buffalo uses cotton wicks, opting for a clean and consistent burn.
  • Candle containers – The candle holder will determine customer appeal, and needs to be durable enough to withstand hot wax. Make sure to follow candle labeling specifications.
  • Fragrance or oils– To scent your candles, you can use plant-based natural oils, or more synthetic blends.
  • Storage space In order to make and store your candles to sell, you’ll need a space to keep products and inventory.
  • Shipping supplies – If you intend to sell your candles online, invest in sturdy shipping supplies to ensure their safe delivery.

How much does it cost to start a candle business?

stack-of-candles

(Credit: Wax Buffalo Co)

The initial investment to start your candle business will vary based on the ingredients and supplies you choose to use.

It’s truly customizable based on the amount you’re comfortable investing in the first batch of supplies.

Alicia decided that quality, sustainability and safety mattered immensely for her products, so her initial investment was higher than a more basic approach valuing quantity over quality.

However, she cautions new business owners to start their business slowly and not spend too much money at the start.

You could decide to start gifting your candles and gaging interest like Alicia did, or you might invest a larger sum like $10,000 to really get your business off the ground.

The good news is, this market niche is incredibly customizable based on your business goals and your personal financial situation.

Trend on the Rise

Consumers are starting to care about the ingredients present in their candles. Alicia has noticed that safer ingredients like “cleaner burning wax blends and wick options” are beginning to become more popular in the candle industry. This can cause ingredients to be more expensive for the maker, but it also raises consumer interest in your candles.

Is a candle making a profitable business?

Most start candle making as a hobby, then see the interest and opportunity out there for their homemade products.

Similarly, Alicia began pouring candles as a therapeutic activity, and it turned into a side hustle which turned into the organization it is today.

candle-business-product-ideas

(Credit: Wax Buffalo Co)

At the beginning, Alicia didn’t think her candle making business would become this profitable, but she has been pleasantly surprised. Although this success didn’t come without its challenges.

She shares:

“I didn’t start making candles to make money. I began creating candles again for me – as a way to tuck back into myself as a form of self-care and to create a clean candle option for our little family.

But once Wax Buffalo was born, of course, I worked really really hard to build it to where it is today. And I found a team of amazing humans who love Wax Buffalo as much as I do!

There was, and still is, a lot of grit, late nights, and tears. And also lots of laughs, cheers, and happy hugs! But this is all part of the messy but beautiful process of creating something from nothing and loving it dearly.”

Whether you’re starting a candle business because of your love for candles, your entrepreneurial spirit, or the desire for a new challenge, the truth is, candles are in demand, and you can have a profitable business when you follow the proper steps.

Wrapping Up

The passion with which Alicia creates her products and the excellence she “pours” into each candle from Wax Buffalo Pure Soy Candle Co. contribute to her successful candle business.

If you decide to start your own candle business and take to heart Alicia’s tips and tricks, you could be sitting on an incredibly profitable candle business in the future. Happy candle making!

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About the Author

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Brenna is a finance guru who enjoys writing about entrepreneurial opportunities and personal finance tips. She graduated from Liberty University with a bachelors degree in business and now helps small businesses market their products as a digital marketing consultant.