Candles are one of the most lucrative industries in the world. A recent study found that the candle industry was valued at $7.15 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $13.38 billion by 2028.
That’s 13.38 billion reasons to start your candle business.
Over the past fifteen years, our team has helped thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses build their brands. We’ve mentored and advised dozens of candle entrepreneurs on building and growing their online and retail candle businesses.
This guide shares the actionable insights, tips, best practices, and expertise we’ve developed after helping over one hundred thousand brands. The guide is filled with insights and practical tips to help you learn more about the candle industry and the step-by-step process of starting your own candle business.
How to Start a Candle Business:
1. Identify your niche
Although the candle industry may seem saturated, there are still many opportunities for new business owners.
All it takes is brand differentiation, which entails finding and defining your niche in this billion-dollar industry.
Around 35% of candle sales occur during the Christmas/Holiday season. And about 65% of candle sales are non-seasonal. Here are helpful facts to help you understand the opportunity in the candle industry:
- The retail price for a candle ranges from $1.99 for a votive to $35 for a large pillar or jar. Premium and luxury candles can cost $200 or more.
- According to the National Candle Association (NCA), buyers view candles as appropriate gifts for holidays (76%), housewarmings (74%), hostess/dinner party gifts (66%), thank you’s (61%), and adult birthdays (58%).
- The NCA also found that consumers in the U.S. use candles within a week of purchasing them and that the U.S. market offers more than 10,000 different candle scents.
- A study by Global Industry Analysts found that the global market for scented candles is at an estimated US$354.1 Million in 2020 and is projected to reach US$542.4 Million in 2026.
- Container and jar candles are currently the most popular types of candles in the U.S. market.
- Over the next few years, soy wax will become increasingly popular due to its low carbon footprint, slow-burning, and long-lasting fragrance.
The candle industry is a growing and incredibly lucrative one. It’s a market that has a steady and large following.
To differentiate, you must determine the following factors:
Your target audience
Your target market is the audience you aim to reach with your marketing efforts. These people are most likely to become customers and buy from you.
When determining your target audience, consider the demographics of your intended market, such as their age, location, gender, and interests.
Identifying the various market categories to inform your branding, marketing strategy, platform, and pricing is essential.
There are three significant categories of target markets in the candle industry:
- Prestige. The luxury candle market is a new and rapidly growing segment. A prestige candle can cost as little as $30 or as high as $200. Luxury candles are known for their premium packaging, fragrances, and emphasis on brand storytelling.
- Mid-market. Candles in this tier appeal to a broader audience. They will likely be found at retail outlets such as Macy’s or Target. Most mid-market candles come with natural scents like rose water, coconut, grapefruit, or basil and cost at least $10 apiece.
- Mass market. Mass market candles are among the lowest-priced in the market. This category’s candies come in classic scents like vanilla or ocean breeze and sell for $5 to $8. Most of this segment is dominated by brands like Yankee Candle and Bed Bath and Beyond.
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Your target industry
Besides your target audience, you should also consider your target industry, especially if you plan on selling to businesses such as spas, restaurants, and retail stores.
Knowing your total addressable market (TAM) will help you assess the opportunity and the likely growth you might see in your target industry.
Candles have seen an increase in popularity in commercial spaces. They are used in spas, massage centers, and restaurants to achieve the warm and intimate ambiance for which these establishments are known.
Candle products are also gaining popularity, with independent brands, fashion houses, and beauty retailers as complementary products to their main product line.
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2. Validate your candle business idea
Before investing significant time and money into your candle business, validating your business idea is crucial. Idea validation ensures a market for your product and reduces the risk of launching a product no one wants.
Here’s how to validate your candle business idea:
Step 1: Conduct market research
The first step in idea validation is to understand the market. Look for information about who buys candles, the types of candles they prefer, and why they purchase them.
This knowledge will allow you to gauge the potential demand for your products. For example, a soy-based candle business might be viable if you find a growing trend in eco-conscious consumers who prefer organic and eco-friendly products.
Step 2: Assess your competitors
Identifying your competition will help you understand what’s already available in the market and identify gaps you can fill. If you notice a lack of luxury scented candles in the market, and your research suggests a demand for such products, this could be an opportunity.
Step 3: Create a minimum viable product (MVP)
A Minimum Viable Product has just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development. For instance, before going in on a full line of aromatherapy candles, you could start by making a small batch and selling them at local markets or online to gauge customer response.
Step 4: Get feedback and iterate
Collect feedback from your early customers to understand if your candles meet their expectations and identify any potential improvements. For example, if you’re selling beeswax candles, ask your customers about their experiences with them – Do they like the scent? How about the burning time? You can refine your products based on feedback to better meet your customers’ needs.
Step 5: Conduct a financial analysis
Calculate the cost of making your candles, including raw materials, packaging, branding, and shipping. Also, consider the costs of business operations like marketing and licenses. Compare these costs with your potential selling price to ensure your business is profitable.
Remember, the idea validation process is iterative and includes learning, adapting, and ensuring your candle business has a potential market. Following this process increases your chances of success and decreases the likelihood of launching a product that doesn’t meet market demands.
3. Create your business plan
A business plan is crucial when starting any business, including a candle business. It serves as a roadmap for your business and can help you secure funding. Here’s how to create a compelling business plan for your candle business:
- Executive summary. This is an overview of your business. Include your business name, what you do, and what makes your candle business unique. For instance, if you’re launching a candle business that uses only organic materials and promotes sustainable practices, mention this here.
- Company description. Detail what your candle business does, the problems it solves, and who it serves. If your business creates bespoke, hand-poured candles for eco-conscious consumers, state this here.
- Market analysis. This section requires information from your market research. Discuss the candle industry, trends, target demographics, and your competitors. If you’re entering the luxury scented candles market, discuss the market size, growth potential, and key competitors.
- Organization and management. Outline your business structure, who the key team members are, and what their roles are. For example, you might handle everything from production to marketing in a small candle business.
- Services or product line. Describe your candles and their benefits. If you’re selling soy-based candles with therapeutic grade essential oils, detail the scents available, their benefits, and why they’re a better choice than synthetic ones.
- Marketing and sales strategy. Discuss how you plan to attract and retain customers. If you’re selling handmade beeswax candles, you might consider partnering with local craft stores or selling at farmers’ markets. Consider building a strong presence online on platforms popular with your target markets, like Instagram and Etsy.
- Funding request. If you’re seeking funding, explain how much money you need and what it will be used for, such as buying raw materials or marketing.
- Financial projections. Provide a forecast of your business finances for the next five years. Include revenue, expenses, and profitability.
- Appendix. An optional section where you can add any additional supporting documents.
A well-structured business plan not only provides direction but can also help you check the feasibility of your business idea. It highlights potential challenges and allows you to devise strategies to overcome them, thereby increasing the chances of your candle business’s success.
Here are some of the critical elements you need to feature in your business plan:
Sourcing for raw materials and supplies
Securing high-quality materials and equipment is crucial to your candle business’s success. Here’s how to source the best resources for various types of candle businesses:
Types of candles and corresponding materials
Different candles require specific materials. Paraffin candles, the most common type, require paraffin wax and any choice of fragrance. Soy candles, a popular eco-friendly choice, require soy wax and essential oils for a natural scent. Beeswax candles require beeswax, which is naturally scented and is often left unscented.
Wax is the backbone of your candle business. You can source wax from local craft stores or online suppliers. Some notable online suppliers are CandleScience and The Flaming Candle Company. They offer various waxes, including soy, paraffin, beeswax, and coconut.
The scent is a vital part of a candle. You can turn to CandleScience or The Flaming Candle Company for synthetic fragrances. Companies like doTERRA and Young Living offer many options for natural essential oils.
Wicks are an essential part of candle making. You must choose the right wick based on the size and type of candle you’re making. Candlewic and Wooden Wick Co. are good sources for a variety of wicks.
The container you choose for your candle can add a unique touch to your product. Glass jars, metal tins, and ceramic containers are popular choices. Specialty Bottle and SKS Bottle & Packaging are online stores that provide a wide range of options.
You’ll need a melting pot, thermometer, scales for precise measurements, and heat-resistant containers for pouring. These items can be found in local stores or online.
Buying in bulk
Once your business scales up, consider buying in bulk to save costs. Most suppliers and wholesalers offer discounts for larger orders.
Remember, the quality of your materials directly impacts the quality of your candles. Spending more on high-quality ingredients can help you create a premium product that stands out in the market. Be consistent with your suppliers to ensure uniformity in your products.
Define your products and services
The products or services your business will offer must be clearly defined. Ask:
- Will you sell scent-based products?
- How much will you be pricing them?
- How will you obtain the supplies you will need for your candles?
- What will the cost be for these supplies?
- What is the cost of production?
A business plan is there to guide your entire operation. It allows you to define your strategy, identify challenges, determine your needed resources, and evaluate your business concept before launching.
4. Make candles
Finally, we get to the fun part! In the product development stage, your creativity, ingenuity, and craft shine.
Creating a high-quality product is crucial because when the candle is good, it can help a person relax, add a decorative flair, or set a mood for the room. A wrong candle, however, can be disastrous.
So before moving to the next step, take some time to learn how to make high-quality candles and develop your signature scents if you sell scented candles.
At the product development stage, you would need to pay attention to mastering a good burn time, perfecting the quality of your wax, and balancing the intensity of fragrances for scented products (the scent should neither be too faint that it is barely noticeable nor too strong that it can be obtrusive).
You can experiment with different fragrance oil blends and containers until you find the perfect match.
Here are some candle types that you can mull over as a basis for your product development:
This is a common candle variety. Candles with aromatherapy or scented candles offer customers varying scents for sprucing their homes.
Aromatherapy candles are marketed as offering specific benefits associated with particular scents. It is common for these candles to contain essential oils that promote physical or mental health. Lavender aromas, for instance, are often associated with sleep and relaxation.
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the materials businesses use when making their products. Some consumers don’t want candles that contain animal byproducts like beeswax. Vegan candles address this concern using alternative ingredients such as plant-based waxes, soy wax, and natural oils.
Soy candles are one of the most popular candle varieties today. They are made from a base that contains soybean wax. In contrast to regular oil- or paraffin candles, this wax is derived from soybeans.
One of its unique selling propositions is that soy candles burn cleanly and for extended periods in addition to being made from renewable resources.
You will most likely find these candles in a homeware store. These candles are primarily made for aesthetic purposes. They are typically not scented or made with unique ingredients. They enhance the look of residential or commercial spaces.
Narrow down your choices by asking the following:
- Will you be selling decorative or traditional candles?
- Are you selling luxury candles or affordable candles?
- What type of material will you be using? Wax, soy, or vegan?
- What unique skills do you have that can help you to differentiate your candles in the marketplace?
Choosing one or a few candle types can help you perfect your craft and define your niche.
5. Register your business
One of the critical milestones in starting a business is registering your company with your secretary of state or regional business authority. Several factors go into registering a business, including the type of business you have, the size of your business, and the state in which you live.
Your business plan will help you decide your legal business structure.
Registering your business with the secretary of state or regional business authority is an essential milestone. Every new business requires a license or permit at the federal, state, and/or local levels. Note that some states require you to register your new business if the trade name under which it operates differs from its legal name.
Sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation are some of the most common forms of business entities.
Choosing the correct business entity is a significant decision, and it’s not a decision that should be rushed. Your business structure will affect your taxes, risk level, etc.
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6. Get small business funding
Any business endeavor requires some startup spending, and a candle business is no exception.
The costs of supplies, marketing, production, insurance, legal counsel, and more will require capital.
How much does it cost to start a candle business?
According to SmallBizTrends, candle business startup costs typically “range from $9,500 to $78,000, with an average around $44,000.” Here’s how those expenses look when starting a candle business:
- Production equipment – $500 to $5,000
- Supplies (wax, molds, wicks) – $3,000
- Insurance and legal fees – $500 to $3,500.
- Permits and licenses for the business – $50 to $700.
- Business software – $50 to $500.
- Small business insurance – $500 to $2,000.
Few entrepreneurs and small business owners have enough savings to pay cash when starting a candle business. But there are plenty of business financing options. For example, consider the following:
Business credit cards
Business credit cards may be a good choice for new business owners because they require a lower credit history than a loan. Most credit cards offer a 0% interest rate during the introductory period, equivalent to having an interest-free loan if you pay off your balance before the introductory period expires.
Business lines of credit
The business line of credit is more flexible than a standard business loan, as you can only borrow as needed.
New business owners should consider startup financing options such as SBA microloans or grants. In addition, crowdfunding is becoming increasingly popular as an option for funding startups.
7. Develop your branding
A lackluster brand in this competitive market will not succeed.
That said, there is more to a brand than just a recognizable business name and company logo.
Understanding market segmentation
Before establishing your brand, you need to understand your market segment. Are you serving luxury seekers who want premium candles, or are you targeting consumers who prefer affordable yet quality products? This decision will help shape your branding strategy.
Understanding your brand pillars is a critical part of establishing your brand. They will guide your business decisions and help you maintain consistency as your business grows.
- Purpose. Your brand purpose isn’t about making money; it’s the reason your brand exists. It should reflect the value your business hopes to add to customers’ lives.
- Vision. Your brand vision is a strategic beacon that indicates where your company is headed. It sets a defined direction for your business growth.
- Mission. Your brand mission describes what your company does to achieve its vision. It outlines the steps your business will take to fulfill its purpose.
- Values. Your brand values are the guiding principles that your business uses to guide its actions. They symbolize what your company stands for.
To build an even stronger brand, you should consider your brand archetypes. This will enable you to create a brand that audiences recognize, relate to, and empathize with on a deeper level.
Finally, remember that how you tell your brand story matters. Strong brand stories create loyal customers who become zealous advocates for your brand.
Crafting your mission statement
Your mission statement is a brief description of your business’s overall purpose. It should answer three key questions: What does your business do? How does it do it? Why does it do it? A well-crafted mission statement can inspire your team and solidify your brand’s identity.
You can’t build a strong brand without consistency and the focus to extend that consistency throughout your business. To build a brand, you must establish what consistency looks like and what feelings you want to evoke.
You also need to consider these visual elements when developing branding for your candle business:
Fonts and Color Palettes
The same consistency should be followed when selecting fonts and color palettes for your brand identity.
Consider using only one or two distinct typefaces across your product designs, website pages, social media accounts, and marketing collaterals whenever possible.
When it comes to color, stick to a similar principle by choosing three to five colors to create your brand palette.
Identify your primary and secondary brand colors early on and use them appropriately. You can also look into color psychology to help inform you of the cultural and societal meanings colors convey in branding.
8. Refine your marketing strategy
You can begin marketing your company by choosing a business name and developing your brand.
A well-thought-out marketing strategy is crucial to getting your products in front of your target audience.
Social media is an excellent place to begin, which is free, easy to use, and fun.
Email marketing is also an affordable option that you should also consider.
9. Select how and where you sell candles
Like many other business-to-consumer products, online is one of the most lucrative ways to sell candles. Multiple digital platforms, such as social media and your e-commerce site, can help you reach potential customers worldwide.
And you can now create digital catalogs and jazz up your product showcase. It’s all about bringing life to your products and making things interactive for your future customers. Add more than just photos and descriptions – think videos, gifs, and anything else that sparks joy. Plus, here’s the cool part: you can see how folks interact with your catalog, helping you figure out what works best to boost your sales.
There will be different digital platforms for different merchants, but here are a few places new candle business owners can start.
Instagram has helped many lifestyle brands build a sizable following.
Market on Instagram by curating a feed of images that showcase the best of your products and your brand. Share scroll-stopping photos of your candles to attract customers.
Pinterest is one of the largest platforms people use to discover brands and products.
Home decor is a significant category on Instagram, making Pinterest a great marketing tool to promote your candle line.
Invest in building a portfolio of stylized and professionally-shot product images. And if you can, also add lifestyle images featuring your products. It lends your brand an aspirational quality that catches the attention of many in your target audience.
TikTok is a popular social media platform that has gained massive global popularity recently, raking in over 1 billion monthly users.
This is another highly visual platform where creative video content is the common denominator.
When marketing on Tiktok, help people to get to know the brand more intimately. You can feature behind-the-scenes edits, unboxings, customer testimonials, and product drops.
You now have a roadmap to get started with your candle business. Good luck!
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