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Hello everyone,

I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy during these crazy times. Here comes my bit of a rant and I apologize if it comes across crass but it seems that everyone during the pandemic decided they were going to become candle makers. I see post after post of people on FB saying made my first candle why is it doing this? Or I sold some candles and why is it not burning right or my favorite is why do I need insurance? Now I am trying to order supplies and so many are out of stock. Ugh rant over now.

 

Have a great day,

Karen in MA

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I feel ya.  And holidays are coming.  We see many, many more of those posts starting around September or so. 
 

a wise woman from my past taught me that anyone can make{soap/candles,etc}. It takes a special person to actually make money at it. 

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LOLOL...I can emphasize. I constantly see people posting about making their first candle and then a month later they have a fully stocked website offering 30+ scents in various sized jars. Then they will post about complaints from customers and ask about insurance. 
I think a lot of people think candlemaking is a quick moneymaker. And I think we all know that it's not. 
Then you have those YouTubers. Not even gonna get into that. LOL

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2 minutes ago, Lizzy said:

LOLOL...I can emphasize. I constantly see people posting about making their first candle and then a month later they have a fully stocked website offering 30+ scents in various sized jars. Then they will post about complaints from customers and ask about insurance. 
I think a lot of people think candlemaking is a quick moneymaker. And I think we all know that it's not. 
Then you have those YouTubers. Not even gonna get into that. LOL

 I just saw a post on a FB group yesterday asking how much everyone spent to start their business. I had to laugh at the ones that said small amounts, you know they are not testing and do not have insurance. The legit ones are the ones that spent more like 7-10K to start. I alone just spent 2500 to get my trademark this year.

 

Karen in MA

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I make and sell mostly soap year round with candles during the fall and holiday season only. So I don't have a problem with the candle makers so much but it seems everyone and their mother is making hand made soap and I see many that talk about their soap selling business but ask questions an experienced soaper would know already. It just boggles the mind how hopeless some of them are.

 

But it is also that time of year, fall, when the newbie candlemakers and other crafters start showing up in droves on social media like forums, youtube, instagram, and especially facebook asking questions about how to make their candles etc at the same time they start selling them.

 

So this time of year I kind of expect it. By January they tend to mostly disappear except for only the very serious minded one. Only those who are determined to learn the craft and learn how to market and sell will survive the season or their first year. So the come and they go and honestly I have learned not to stress out about it as they mostly aren't real competition in the first place.

 

Can't tell you how many times I have had customers tell me they like my soap, candle, lotion, lip balm, or whatever, the best out any they have tried and always look for me just to buy from only me. Or the customers that tell me they tried a candle or a soap from another seller and how inferior it was or how dry the soap was or it didn't feel the same, smell the same, etc., etc., etc.

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One lesson I learned early on is that whole, “if you make it they will buy” is a fallacy.

 

 I had to grow into events through persistence and a lot of resources. The first year a few people may try your stuff. The second year, if they see you,  a few more may try. If you can make it through the third year and start making money then you’re onto something.

 

it takes a LOT of continuous marketing for non-essential items to remain viable sources of real income. 
 

we do see trends in the marketplace for handmade items like soap and candles because the barriers to entry are so low. Seems to be about every 5-7 years. The market is flooded by people “educating” potential customers of the dangers of chemicals shocking into sales. Those rarely last. Consumers have grown numb to that.
 

the great sellers have a brand that draws people In their target markets to them. Customers are loyal because they want a piece of the artist to enjoy simply because the emotions are of a joyous overall experience. those are the ones that rise and make it. 

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Most small businesses don't make it for the long haul; they close within a year or so of start up.  IMO, it takes a unique combination of creative person + entrepreneurial / business savvy person.  You don't see that combo very often.

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26 minutes ago, Crafty1_AJ said:

Most small businesses don't make it for the long haul; they close within a year or so of start up.  IMO, it takes a unique combination of creative person + entrepreneurial / business savvy person.  You don't see that combo very often.

 

Exactly! Those are the get rich quick newbies that don't realize you have to actually know what you are doing and how to be a sales person and an accountant. They just wanted to make something fast and easy and skip the apprenticeship altogether and become rich quick! After all, you just melt wax, add scent, a wick, and pour into a jar, right??!!!!

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2 hours ago, TallTayl said:

 I had to grow into events through persistence and a lot of resources. The first year a few people may try your stuff. The second year, if they see you,  a few more may try. If you can make it through the third year and start making money then you’re onto something.

 

Same here. I do mostly farmer's markets year round and many of the same craft shows each year. Even with great products you still need to build a customer base and that can take several years just to get a good solid base of customers. Repeat customers that look for you each market or each year's craft show. That is why I can get individual sales of $50-$100 for soap alone or candles alone all day long. My products range from $5 to $15 with one or two a little higher priced.

 

My typical sale with repeats starts at $35-$50 and goes up from there depending on how long they are buying for. New customers typically buy one $5 bar of soap. I can see the skepticism in their eyes. But I know once I can get them to buy one thing, even if it is small, they will probably come back for more.

 

My big spenders buy in bulk. I even have customers that buy several hundred dollars in product at one show or market to last them several months or a year. One man buys $200-$300 dollars of SOAP at a time several times a year and that is before his daughter and wife hit my booth (they like to shop around like girlfriends) and hit my booth usually after.

 

I didn't get sales like this when I started out or even after the first year or two. It took me 3-4 years to get that kind of customer base. My knowledge of my products is what sells them for me. Also, when I have repeat customers in my booth, they sell the tar out of my soaps and products when a new customer comes into the booth asking for an opinion on something they want to try. Sometimes all I have to do is stand there and smile and my customer(s) with make the sale for me!!

 

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I agree on the shows and gaining the client base. I did 53 shows last year and have done that for about the last 7 years give or take. This year I have done 4 with everything being canceled. I know that stuff gets scarce at this time of the year but now doubled with the issues with shipping within the states plus internationally it is even worse. I know I just need to keep plugging away but I was so frustrated this morning trying to reorder jars for some wholesale orders. 

 

Karen in MA

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59 minutes ago, kfintoni said:

I agree on the shows and gaining the client base. I did 53 shows last year and have done that for about the last 7 years give or take. This year I have done 4 with everything being canceled. I know that stuff gets scarce at this time of the year but now doubled with the issues with shipping within the states plus internationally it is even worse. I know I just need to keep plugging away but I was so frustrated this morning trying to reorder jars for some wholesale orders. 

 

Karen in MA

 

It's getting bad. Even the simplest jars are hard to find now. My bestsellers are plain ole Jelly Jars and I'm having a hard time finding them locally. 

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About 85% any business start up would fail, and that number should be much higher in candle business due to lower entry barrier.  It is true that many of newbies do not deserve to run a candle business nor any other businesses.  I do see many in here who just want quick solution & answer from others.  Who cares about this kind of people?  Some will figure it out and many will fail. 

 

However, do not underestimate some of bright young new start up candle makers, who are on their way to be well prepared & planned.  And they have a desire to do this right.  We do have some here in this forum that really want to learn & do this right way.  So, concentrate on helping the good ones and ignore the bad ones.  

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Oh yeah. They've definitely come outta the woodwork since Covid.  I read a post a couple days ago in a FB group that read, "I don't have time for all this testing mess so I just gave a couple to friends and they said they were good...."

That one will crash and burn soon.  Possibly literally.

I am very grateful that I have more jars than I will probably ever use.  I am peeved about OOS FO's, although I certainly don't need to buy any.

 

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It seems that there must be a book out entitled, "Learn How To Make Candles in One Day" ... because I think that's a bit of what we're seeing.  I am one of those people who distrust Facebook, so I've never signed on, but I can imagine that it could become annoying to see too many people posting photos with "look what I just made" type of stuff and in the photo there is a candle with a huge wick, off-center, that's been cut with a pair of pinking shears.  I think this rant is funny, although I know it was born out of frustration, we've got to be able to laugh at this stuff.  Yes, we can try to help those who actually want help and are thankful for it, but I've seen where new crafters appear insulted by the help, so then there's that!

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16 hours ago, Candybee said:

Same here. I do mostly farmer's markets year round and many of the same craft shows each year. Even with great products you still need to build a customer base and that can take several years just to get a good solid base of customers. Repeat customers that look for you each market or each year's craft show. That is why I can get individual sales of $50-$100 for soap alone or candles alone all day long. My products range from $5 to $15 with one or two a little higher priced.

 

My typical sale with repeats starts at $35-$50 and goes up from there depending on how long they are buying for. New customers typically buy one $5 bar of soap. I can see the skepticism in their eyes. But I know once I can get them to buy one thing, even if it is small, they will probably come back for more.

 

My big spenders buy in bulk. I even have customers that buy several hundred dollars in product at one show or market to last them several months or a year. One man buys $200-$300 dollars of SOAP at a time several times a year and that is before his daughter and wife hit my booth (they like to shop around like girlfriends) and hit my booth usually after.

 

I didn't get sales like this when I started out or even after the first year or two. It took me 3-4 years to get that kind of customer base. My knowledge of my products is what sells them for me. Also, when I have repeat customers in my booth, they sell the tar out of my soaps and products when a new customer comes into the booth asking for an opinion on something they want to try. Sometimes all I have to do is stand there and smile and my customer(s) with make the sale for me!!

 

This has been my experience exactly.  I don't do markets any longer but I have 4 yearly shows that I do in tourist towns that I have had a following for the last 9 years.  Hopefully they come back next year since all was cancelled this year.   I'm the only constant at these shows.  Other soapmakers, B&B have come and gone.   

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It's a multifaceted problem and a perfect storm. You have people, bored out of their minds during quarantine and shutdown, looking for hobbies and potential sources of income. You have overpriced candles being sold by large companies (I think people are catching on to the ~400% markups from big name brand candle companies). Then, you have "ready to use" wax bases that are marketed as very user friendly and accompanied with wicking guides. In addition, all the many, many how-to tutorials that neglect to list any of the challenges that come with proper candlemaking. Survivalists getting stirred up by the pandemic, causing them to engage in a flurry of canning, jarring, and crafting of other emergency supplies (read: candles), which drains our supply of containers... IMO, Murphy's Law at work.

On the bright side, it's probably a good time to be a beekeeper. Huge demand for beeswax with all these newbie candlemakers. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if that's going to be next year's big get-rich-quick go-to. Everyone will want to be a beekeeper in 2021. "Cut costs of your DIY essential oil candles by harvesting your own wax... for FREE with an added bonus: HONEY!$!$!$!" (Disclaimer: It's not that simple.) Then, we'll have an influx of wannabe gardeners planting all sorts of flowers for their bees without practicing proper procedures, allowing plant pests and diseases to spread like wildfire (as if they weren't bad enough this year). They'll flood the gardening forums/groups with threads titled "What's wrong with my <plant>?".

Does it ever end?

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17 hours ago, birdcharm said:

I am one of those people who distrust Facebook, so I've never signed on, but I can imagine that it could become annoying to see too many people posting photos with "look what I just made" type of stuff and in the photo there is a candle with a huge wick, off-center, that's been cut with a pair of pinking shears. 

 

It's even funnier and tragic when you see 50 followup posts saying "that's beautiful" or "great candle". My jaw always drops as I'm thinking are you all blind or are you kidding me? you're proud of that hideous fire hazard waiting to happen?!!!!🤣

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11 hours ago, Candybee said:

 

It's even funnier and tragic when you see 50 followup posts saying "that's beautiful" or "great candle". My jaw always drops as I'm thinking are you all blind or are you kidding me? you're proud of that hideous fire hazard waiting to happen?!!!!🤣

 

It is tragic in a sense.  I saw a thread on reddit a while back and I had to quit reading, it was truly a case of blind leading the blind and as I was reading it, it seemed to be getting worse by the moment, I was almost getting a headache, so I moved on!  I think there is a rather large number of new crafters who have not taken the time to read about what they're doing, they're just jumping into it.  I don't think experienced hobbyists can save them from themselves, nor do we necessarily have an obligation to do so ... part of me always wants to try to steer them in the right direction, but there's too many of them, so we've just got to let it go; but the concern is that they are flooding the market with inferior products and the candle buyers don't know until after they've spent their money.

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Another factor is positive feedback / word of mouth.  Unless potential customers see good feedback and positive reviews, they're less likely to buy.  Unsolicited glowing feedback is the best form of advertising.  :)

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43 minutes ago, Crafty1_AJ said:

Another factor is positive feedback / word of mouth.  Unless potential customers see good feedback and positive reviews, they're less likely to buy.  Unsolicited glowing feedback is the best form of advertising.  :)

True. A positive word from a friend is worth more than a million dollar billboard. Friends bring friends to shop. Reminds me of the Faberge Organics shampoo ads from the 80’s... I told 2 friends.  they told 2 friends and so on, and so on an so on.

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1 hour ago, TallTayl said:

True. A positive word from a friend is worth more than a million dollar billboard. Friends bring friends to shop. Reminds me of the Faberge Organics shampoo ads from the 80’s... I told 2 friends.  they told 2 friends and so on, and so on an so on.

 

Oh... oh!! I remember that!

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I joined a FB group for 6006 users the other day for IDK what reason.  Aye yai yai.  As @birdcharmsaid, the blind leading the blind.  And all this talk about "launching" their product....like the whole world is waiting...

I'm extra touchy today.  😠

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Let me say that when I sold my candle business, the lady that bought it had no idea what was involved.  She stated she had "made candles" before.  When she saw my notes at a training session, I thought she was going to give up. 🤣

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