Congratulations, you’ve chosen a great niche; the candle business is red hot.
Almost 80% of all U.S. homes use them and it’s a market anyone can enter.
You can start a candle business from home, you don’t need expensive equipment, you can learn the process online, and sell your creations on multiple platforms.
As the average profit margins are 200 to 300%, starting a candle business could be the best decision you’ll ever make!
In this post, we’ll look at how the candle business works, which candles sell best, how Chandler entrepreneurs make a profit, and provide a comprehensive guide on how to start a candle business.
Plus, I’ll tell you where to sell your candles so you can promote them and make your first sale.
The National Candle Association estimates U.S. candle sales at $3.2 billion per year, and forecasts say it’ll rise to almost $5 billion by 2026.
That’s the market, but what about the product?
Candlescience.com says the average variable and fixed costs to manufacture a candle are $3.78, with a direct sales price of 3 to 4 times the cost.
That’s a good profit for any business.
Modest investment (scales as the business scales)
Low entry costs make the candle-making business an attractive option. You could start your candle business from home for as little as $1,000. Paying for essential equipment and enough raw materials for your first 100 candles. Then scale your business according to demand using your profits for growth.
But as with any business, costs are variable and rise with the size of your business.
For example, Smallbiztrends.com says, “The average cost to start a candle business ranges from $9,500 to $78,000.”
But a significant chunk of that is rental, so if you start a candle business at home, you immediately cut your costs.
Differentiation opportunities (if you can make great candles)
All markets have niches within, and the key to success is finding one with a high search volume (consumer interest), low entry cost, and moderate competition.
The candle business provides those opportunities due to the endless fragrances, colors, shapes, and containers.
Containers, for example, are the most popular type of candle in the U.S. today.
Some other niches within the candle market are vegan, wax melts, soy wax, luxury candles, and the increasingly popular market of outdoor candles. We’ll look closer at how you make those in just a minute.
But first, let’s get inspired by an entrepreneur who stood in your shoes 4 short years ago and now makes over $140,000 per month making and selling candles.
Example of a successful candle business
D’Shawn Russell started her candle business at home as a side hustle to make a few extra dollars on the weekends.
Today, her business, Southern Elegance Candle Company, earns over $1.6 million a year.
The inspirational D’Shawn Russell began with minimal resources or knowledge. She made her first sales at farmers’ markets, earning $200 per week.
Here’s what she said about starting her candle business:
“When I first started my candle business, I had limited resources (basically no money), no background in sales, manufacturing, or marketing, and no idea how to set up a real candle business.”
Russell’s success came from choosing a niche she was passionate about: Candles with Southern-inspired fragrances like apple, pine, and cotton.
And selling her candles on every available platform, including Church functions, farmers markets, school bazaars, festivals, Etsy, Faire, Houzz, and Amazon.
She then built a website, took courses in email marketing, Facebook, Google ads, and used social media platforms like Facebook business groups, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn to build her candle community.
Are you inspired?
Great, here’s how you can do the same thing:
Before you start a candle business, consider joining the National Candle Association.
You’ll gain access to market-relevant information and get tips from expert candle makers.
The NCA also carries out global candle market research, which provides valuable insights into the industry and its standards, like fire and safety regulations and the science behind candles.
Ok. Now that you’re aware of the National Candle Association let’s get into the steps on how to start a candle business.
A business plan aims to outline your strategy for starting your candle business.
It identifies the steps you must take and the resources you’ll need to achieve your goals. And it also sets a timeline for results. Research shows that a business with a plan can grow 30% faster than one without.
Your business plan doesn’t need to be vast but should include:
You can learn about writing a quick business plan here.
The first step in your candle business is to learn about how to make candles. If you know how to make candles, skip this step. If the idea of having a candle business interests you, this is the next step you need to know.
You’ll need to know about the different waxes to make candles, optimum melting temperatures, which wick suits your candle size, and the science behind fragrance mixology.
Once you gain the knowledge, you can let your creativity flow. Give this stage of your journey the time it requires, as candle quality is essential.
The good news is that you can learn about making candles through online classes and YouTube videos.
Some business owners at Tailor Brands like this channel, for example:
Today, 90% of candles are machine-made and that’s good because there’s enormous demand for homemade candles from small unique brands, so business is booming.
Making candles isn’t difficult; you melt wax in a pot or melter, add color and fragrance, pour the wax into a container, add a wick and secure, pour some more wax, cut the wick, and let it harden.
The magic is in the design, such as shape, fragrance, color, container, and branding. When you get those right, you’ll create a product that appeals to your target audience’s taste.
You can find thousands of innovative design ideas on YouTube.
You need certain raw materials to make your candles, and you can get them from suppliers like CandleScience, Loanstarcandlesupply, and Candlewick.
Candle making materials include:
Then you’ll need the equipment to make your candles. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend vast amounts; here’s how D’Shawn Russell made her first candles.
“I first started in my home; I had two pots and my stove. After a few months, I bought my first large wax melter and moved into the garage. I bought another melter two months later and started looking for my first space outside my garage.”
The basics you’ll need are:
Besides your imagination and entrepreneurial spirit, wax is the most crucial ingredient. I’ll explain why next.
You can use several types of wax derived from many natural resources to make your candles. The question is: Which ones are the best for candles?
Most chandlers (AKA people who make candles) agree that natural, eco-friendly soy wax is the best choice because of its crystal structure. They’re small and tightly packed, making the wax more pliable, slower burning, and carry a scent for longer.
But it’s not your only choice—you have 6 more to consider:
Free YouTube videos and Google are great for learning about making candles, but they’ll only get you so far.
To elevate your craft to the next level, consider taking online candle-making classes and workshops.
You’ll learn many trade secrets such as creating paraffin, shimmery mica candles, clean-burning candles, natural fragrances, pouring tips, what throwing a fragrance means, and how to perfect it.
7 candle making classes that cover everything you’ll need to know:
And check out Paris Nikkole on YouTube; she provides easy-to-follow instructions on making candles and starting a candle business.
Your branding ties your business idea, target audience, and products together.
Its purpose is to connect with like-minded people and bond them as a community, but your brand’s voice and personality must suit theirs.
The National Candle Association said, “Consumers buy candles as a focal point for their home decor and aromatherapy like relaxation and stress reduction.”
So, candles are more than just fragrance and soft light; people want ones that suit their living space. And if your candles conjure up happy memories, even better. Your brand story can make that happen.
Your story is your brand’s voice and the narrative that communicates and connects with your ideal clients. It tells people why you make candles and why they’re your target audience.
Candle sellers’ brand stories are honest, human, and captivating. They make people think and feel something special.
A story well told by Southern Elegance candles:
“Do you remember walking hand in hand with your grandma down a dirt road or sipping sweet tea under the shade of a pecan tree?”
“Did you spend your childhood summers playing barefoot outside all day and catching lightning bugs at night?”
“These memories that we cherish sustain us, and Southern Elegance candles will help you remember those intimate, special moments.”
I’m not from the south, but just for a moment, I imagined I was. Did you?
Every candle you make should tell a story. To find yours, ask yourself:
When you have your story, infuse it throughout your brand to connect with your target audience’s emotions and inspire them to take action.
You’ll face stiff competition in the candle-making business, but creating unique and exciting fragrances is one way you can stand out.
National Candle Association research backs this up: “Three-fourths of candle buyers say fragrance is essential in selecting a candle.”
D’Shawn Russell got this part perfect by using local pine, apple, and cotton fragrances to engage her target audience’s senses and claim her niche in the market.
The takeaway here is to always let the scent do the talking.
Many budding entrepreneurs think everything must be perfect before they start their business. But that breeds procrastination. You need action.
D’Shawn Russell went from $200 a week to $1.6 million a year by taking action.
Here’s how: “I had no idea how to set up a real candle business; I hit the streets selling. For the first year, I would sell my candles at any Church function, fair, festival, or school bazaar; I sold candles outside in the middle of the summer and in the dead of winter. And on any and every online platform that would accept me.
D’Shawn knew that action, hard work, and multiple sales platforms were all crucial ingredients for her candle business success.
Here’s how you can do the same:
Before you start posting on social media and paying for ads, you want to have a clear direction for your marketing strategy.
A marketing strategy is a game plan of how you’ll reach out, connect, and attract your customers, and turn them into returning customers.
This isn’t just about what social media platforms you’ll use to market your business. You’ll need to establish your goals, what makes your business stand out, and how you’ll communicate with your audience.
Social media gives enormous power to small businesses. You can build a vast community using Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook business pages, and groups.
Once you have your marketing strategy decided, then showcase your product photos and post exciting topics to engage with your community and remind them of what you sell while giving them a reason to buy.
You’ll need 2 things to do this right:
You’ll eventually need a website for your candle business, one to which you’ll direct your social media audience.
But if you’re not ready to build one, you can sell your candles on digital marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, Houzz, and Modalyst.
They’re easy to join and people trust these marketplaces, so you can quickly establish a profitable listing. The only negative is that the selling fees cut your profits.
Building an e-commerce website sounds daunting compared to listing your products on Amazon or Etsy. It’ll take more work, but the rewards are worth it.
Your online store is where all your other marketing platforms lead because that’s where you convert your viewers.
Your website’s where you tell your story, make most of your sales, and collect users’ email addresses for future conversions.
Again, use a professional photographer and copywriter to perfect your sales pitch and convey your story in the right way.
Platforms like WIS Stores, Shopify, BigCommerce, and Squarespace are just some you could use to start your candle business website.
Create local brand awareness by selling your candles throughout your state.
Partner with local boutique owners and hardware stores open to trying out homemade products from unknown brands.
Don’t be afraid to pitch to larger local home furniture stores, even if it’s only to use your candles as display pieces. What’s important is that people will see your brand.
Wholesale outlets supply products in bulk to retail stores. They buy stock from manufacturers (like you) and resell it at a higher price.
They’ll pay you less per unit, but their customers buy in bulk, and wholesalers are often willing to test new products.
Live shopping is a new trend in retail and marketing that offers an engaging user experience beyond filling a shopping cart.
It allows you to showcase your products live and customers can buy them in real-time.
As promotions are only valid during the live stream, it creates a sense of urgency. You can show reviews and recommendations to encourage viewers with their purchasing decisions.
Viral marketing is a modern form of word-of-mouth marketing. WOMM is when one person recommends a product to another, usually face to face.
Viral marketing takes place online and can reach thousands of people.
Your goal when implementing viral marketing is to encourage buyers to share your marketing message to expand its reach.
Social media makes the perfect platform.
How to encourage viral marketing:
And make your campaigns quick and easy to share and for people to submit comments and ask questions.
Once the doors of your candle business are open, you want your business to run smoothly and have return customers.
Customer service, product availability, and brand appearance play essential roles in making these things happen.
Any business that sells on Amazon, Etsy, has an e-commerce store, social media presence, or Google Business Listing needs positive testimonials to succeed.
And the number one reason people leave critical reviews is low-quality customer service. Don’t let your service undermine your candle business.
Make sure your customers can contact you on several levels and always reply. Be polite and go above and beyond, regardless of when they’re wrong.
Make each customer feel like they’re your only customer; they’ll love you for it.
You lose sales when you run out of products at a market fair or church bazaar. No problem, you’ll bring more stock next time.
But run out of stock on sales platforms like Amazon and your listing will sink like a stone. That’ll result in consumers being unable to see your brand or buy your products, and you fall even further.
Your only option then is to pay for advertising. It’s even worse if you run out of stock on your website. People will leave, find another brand, engage with their story, buy another product, and forget about you.
And as it costs 5 times more to attract a buyer than to keep one, don’t lose yours by running out of stock!
There aren’t many businesses that you can start as cheaply as a candle business.
Nor are there many you can do from home, learn the skills online, or sell your products both on and offline.
Sure, it’s a competitive market, but all the good ones are. What matters is you. You’re the difference between a side-hustle and a booming candle business.
Use the marvelous D’Shawn Russell as your inspiration. She’d tell you herself if she can do it, anyone can. Burn brightly, my friends.
This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.
Terry is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience building businesses across multiple industries – construction, real estate, e-commerce, hotelier, and now digital media. When not working, Terry likes to kick back and relax with family, explore Taoism’s mysteries, or savor the taste of fine Italian red wine.