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Over-saturated market?


Bev
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Let me start by saying I LOVE candlemaking. I am proud that I have learned to make a quality candle and I get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside when I receive compliments from customers who purchase candles from me. I have a very busy full-time job as a legal assistant and my candle business at the moment is probably considered to be at the "hobby" level. My advertising thus far has consisted of advertising in our weekly newsletter at work, mailing out flyers and putting them on the neighbor's front doors, hosting open houses (my best sales yet were from an open house), my website, and attending the occasional craft fair. I find the craft fairs most difficult because (1) it takes a lot of time to build up the inventory for these events and with a full-time job, it's hard to find the time to adequately prepare without losing lots of valuable sleep and (2) the craft fairs seem to be saturated with handmade candles. So far my sales have been mediocre, at best, and at times I feel like I'm beating a dead horse. Does anyone else feel that the handmade candle market is over-saturated? I really don't want to throw in the towel because, as I stated before, I LOVE candlemaking. I just don't know if it's a viable business venture for someone who already holds a full-time job (and can't afford to quit her day job to put 100% into the candle biz).

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I don't feel it's over-saturated here where I am. And even if it were, I KNOW that I have a great product that I will continue to sell. There are more jewelry folks here, BUT, I will say that a good number of those who make candles don't last. Since there are so many out there who don't make quality products, etc. Keep on making a wonderful product and keep your customers coming back again and again. Those who don't have quality will fizzle away, unfortunately it might take a little while, but they'll be gone....For instance, I did a show on Saturday, there were 2 of us who made candles. I always walk around and check out all the vendors, especially the competition. I opened lots of jars that needed a second pour, ones in which the tops needed to be hit with a heat gun, and even ones w/ large sink holes. Needless to say, she ended up leaving 2 hours into the 6 hour show because she wasn't getting any business. She was in a great spot, I was at the end of a dim hallway!!

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I don't feel it's over-saturated here where I am. And even if it were, I KNOW that I have a great product that I will continue to sell. There are more jewelry folks here, BUT, I will say that a good number of those who make candles don't last. Since there are so many out there who don't make quality products, etc. Keep on making a wonderful product and keep your customers coming back again and again. Those who don't have quality will fizzle away, unfortunately it might take a little while, but they'll be gone....For instance, I did a show on Saturday, there were 2 of us who made candles. I always walk around and check out all the vendors, especially the competition. I opened lots of jars that needed a second pour, ones in which the tops needed to be hit with a heat gun, and even ones w/ large sink holes. Needless to say, she ended up leaving 2 hours into the 6 hour show because she wasn't getting any business. She was in a great spot, I was at the end of a dim hallway!!

Also, I have a full time job too AND another business...It might help to put yourself on a schedule for getting your stock made for shows, etc.

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I think it's always important as a business to ask yourself "why am I here and why would anyone notice me amoungst my other competitors". You've got to have an edge, a theme, something that makes you different. Honestly, customers don't *know* the details of candlemaking - a candle is a candle to them at first glance until they learn better. Just setting out candles on a table in a saturated market isn't going to be enough. You've got to be "the chandler who......"

It *is* difficult to build stock with a full time job. When I did candles I did votives after work since they cooled quickly, and did pillars on the weekend. I worked about 2-3 hours after work, and 10 hours each Sat/Sun. Draining to say the least.

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Let me start by saying I LOVE candlemaking. I am proud that I have learned to make a quality candle and I get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside when I receive compliments from customers who purchase candles from me. I have a very busy full-time job as a legal assistant and my candle business at the moment is probably considered to be at the "hobby" level. My advertising thus far has consisted of advertising in our weekly newsletter at work, mailing out flyers and putting them on the neighbor's front doors, hosting open houses (my best sales yet were from an open house), my website, and attending the occasional craft fair. I find the craft fairs most difficult because (1) it takes a lot of time to build up the inventory for these events and with a full-time job, it's hard to find the time to adequately prepare without losing lots of valuable sleep and (2) the craft fairs seem to be saturated with handmade candles. So far my sales have been mediocre, at best, and at times I feel like I'm beating a dead horse. Does anyone else feel that the handmade candle market is over-saturated? I really don't want to throw in the towel because, as I stated before, I LOVE candlemaking. I just don't know if it's a viable business venture for someone who already holds a full-time job (and can't afford to quit her day job to put 100% into the candle biz).

YUPPER's! I feel the same way. In my area I have approx 4 major Candle companys that have been in the business for 10 years or better. It seems that every person I talk to either has a friend who makes soaps/candles or knows of people who are in the business.

I've been thinking about this for past year and not really motivated anymore.

Maybe its just another one of my hobbies to keep me busy....as my husband would say.

SP

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I have noticed a lot of candle-makers in our area. I thought about purchasing candles wholesale and selling them with my soaps and B&B. After looking at the market I have decided against it because I couldn't offer anything different.

I did a total of 6 craft shows this season. At many of the shows I was the only soap-maker. There were at least 4 candle-makers at each show.

My only real competition is a soap company that has been in business for 10 years and is 350 miles away but in the same state. There are about 3 other soap-makers here in my city but we all offer very different products. I have gone the mostly vegan route and it is paying off... the other soap-makers use animal by products and it seems that the trend is anti-animal in our area.

I think that Robin nailed it. If you are serious about having a business and making money while enjoying what you are doing you need to do your market research. You need to offer something different that stands out and makes you unique and remembered. There are thousands of us home-based soap and candle makers. It seems like there are at least, from the board alone, a couple sites a week that go up... If you are unique and different you will be remembered and do quite well.

Just my :2cents:.

Jennifer

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Actually I do feel the market is over saturated. In all of the scented market. Just take a look when you walk in almost every store from the small to the big they have candles and soaps. 10 years ago it was not this way.

I have also noticed a trend among small store owners they are also noticing the over saturation and are starting to drop the candle and soap lines they have been carrying.

This is the question that I want answered.

Why does everyone insist on selling?

What happen to this just being a hobby?

It is okay for it just to be a hobby something you do to relax and enjoy yourself. It okay for you to just sell to family, friends, and coworkers.

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This is the question that I want answered.

Why does everyone insist on selling?

What happen to this just being a hobby?

I know what you are saying... IMO- it seems like people think that you can make a ton of money quickly from a soap and or candle business so they jump on the bandwagon make a few products, open a website and wait for the millions to roll in. ;)

Jennifer

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I know what you are saying... IMO- it seems like people think that you can make a ton of money quickly from a soap and or candle business so they jump on the bandwagon make a few products, open a website and wait for the millions to roll in. ;)

Jennifer

It's funny you said that. I never got into candle making expecting to make millions ... or even hundreds. As people started using my candles and then offered to purchase them, to my surprise and delight, my hobby sprouted into a little business venture. My website was created after most customers kept asking for my website address. It is mainly used as an online catalog for my customers. If someone from cyberspace stumbles across my site and orders from me, that's fine, too. As I said before, it just seems the handmade candle business is over-saturated, at least in my area. I won't throw in the towel just yet because I enjoy making candles too much. I think Vicky hit the nail on the head when she said it IS okay to do this just to relax and enjoy yourself.

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vicky, funny you should bring this up. I am at a make or break point with my business, and I am truly cosidering tossing in the towel. Not because sales are bad, they are fantastic, I have cornered a great market here where I live, It just doesn't seem fun anymore. I constantly feel under pressure, I feel a lot of isolation from the outside world and I would love to be able to do it just for myself somedays. I am also finding that the bigger companies are catching on to what the small businesses are doing and offering products that look more handmade. Also I am at a point where I just don't have the room to do the production I need to do, so if I am pouring all day, or soaping all day, before I go to bed at night, I have to rearrange everything for what is on the plan for the next day. And yet I am not at all feeling like dolling out a ton of money , to rent a space, and all the stuff that goes along with it. Just what I have been feeling lately.

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vicky, funny you should bring this up. I am at a make or break point with my business, and I am truly considering tossing in the towel. Not because sales are bad, they are fantastic, I have cornered a great market here where I live, It just doesn't seem fun anymore. I constantly feel under pressure, I feel a lot of isolation from the outside world and I would love to be able to do it just for myself some days. I am also finding that the bigger companies are catching on to what the small businesses are doing and offering products that look more handmade. Also I am at a point where I just don't have the room to do the production I need to do, so if I am pouring all day, or soaping all day, before I go to bed at night, I have to rearrange everything for what is on the plan for the next day. And yet I am not at all feeling like dolling out a ton of money , to rent a space, and all the stuff that goes along with it. Just what I have been feeling lately.

It seems that a lot of us that have been doing this awhile get to a point where you have to self-reflect and ask yourself the hard questions.

My business also started as a hobby years ago. When I started soaping I knew that I had found my calling and this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I have never considered giving it up but I do ask myself sometimes why I continue to work 40+ hours a week at my day job and spend 20+ hours a week continuing to restock product. I sometimes feel like I am killing myself.

I decided that I am in the do-or-die stage of my business. I cannot continue to work full-time and continue to expand my business. I have recently submitted an RFP for a cabin concession in a historical park in town. It has 30+ historic houses/cabins for rent that cater to tourists and locals. There are no soap makers. If I get accepted I will be quitting my job on May 1st and running the store front from the end of May to Sept. I am going to see how it goes.... worse case scenario, I have to go back to a real job. :grin2:

The only advise that I can give is follow your heart and your dreams but do it with some common sense.

Jennifer

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vicky, funny you should bring this up. I am at a make or break point with my business, and I am truly cosidering tossing in the towel. Not because sales are bad, they are fantastic, I have cornered a great market here where I live, It just doesn't seem fun anymore. I constantly feel under pressure, I feel a lot of isolation from the outside world and I would love to be able to do it just for myself somedays. I am also finding that the bigger companies are catching on to what the small businesses are doing and offering products that look more handmade. Also I am at a point where I just don't have the room to do the production I need to do, so if I am pouring all day, or soaping all day, before I go to bed at night, I have to rearrange everything for what is on the plan for the next day. And yet I am not at all feeling like dolling out a ton of money , to rent a space, and all the stuff that goes along with it. Just what I have been feeling

lately.

I can sympathize, Cindy. I finally told DH that something has got to give. I love what I do and am very proud of the response to our products. Even though we're not huge by any means, word is getting around and business is definitely picking up. There's no competition where we live so that's a huge plus. But the stress and pressure has really been weighing on me lately. I had to force myself to take a step back and set aside some me-time, enjoying my spring planting and such. My shop had started feeling like a prison to the point where I seriously considered shutting down the whole thing. Making time for "me" has made all the difference. I am in the process of weeding out anything un-necessary or inconsequential, one of which was the website. I was the only one who worked at it and there just wasn't time with everything else. DH didn't want to lose it but didn't want to work at it either.

Like Bev's, it was more of a catalog thing, accounting for less than 1% of our sales, and has never paid for itself. I get better response from brochures and newsletters. I know this is a little off topic :embarasse but Cindy's response kinda hit home when I read it.

Rena

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I get asked often when I will open a store front, etc., and I am completely happy with my small business base of friends, family and craft shows. I enjoy making the candles, etc., and I don't want to lose that. I pay my yearly fees to be a LLC, and my business license to give me the availability to sell, etc., but I'm not dreaming of a big store, etc. I just want people to enjoy my stuff as much as I do.

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Yes the market is way oversaturated with candles and soaps. One thing you have to realize is candles are seasonal. Candles are hard to sell in the summer months because people are enjoying the great outdoors and traveling. I have had to be more creative and add to my product line. I was very lucky that I was given the opportunity to work with sales reps. that get me business, because the candle person before me bailed out, so it gave me the opportunity to take over her accounts. I wish you luck! As with any business it takes time.

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This is the question that I want answered.

Why does everyone insist on selling?

What happen to this just being a hobby?

I wonder if it is because it is increasingly harder these days to find a good job, one that comes with job security, benefits, and of course decent pay. I think if it were like the 'good old days' where there was job security plus nice benefits and a pension plan, we would not see so many people trying to turn their hobby into a business.

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I have to agree. It does change based on your location but in my area the market is over saturated. For example, at a local craft show there were only 12 booths and 5 were candles! Just about everyone here has a

co-worker or a neighbor or relative that makes and sells candles. It is true that alot are not quality candles and many of these people do not stick with this for a very long time but there are sooooo many in my market area. It's almost as common as a stop light here, one on every corner. Having to compete with the cheap prices is a constant problem. Yes, I know many of you are thinking but once a customer understands the difference in the quality of candle they are getting they will stick with you. Many times that is true but when you are working in a truly over saturated market they have so many choices that sometimes they can constantly candle hop because there are so many choices. I have spent far more on this than I have gained in profit. I do have to be pratical and honest with myself. I do love doing this but if I am also at a crossroads with my decision to continue as a business.

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Well, here goes my observation. After 5 years, I have a very successful candle company. I get a lot of fundraisers, in fact we're delivering one next week for total sales of $10,400. Candles have consumed our lives (DH & I) for the whole 5 yrs. I have seen at least 10 candlemakers start up & quit in a very short time. We buy tins by 10,000 to get best price, we buy tureens by the pallet (900 at a time). We have to hold FOs to an avg cost of $13 to $14/#. But the wax cost kills us! There is nothing we can do about it. I do not believe small candle companies like mine can survive because of wax, shipping costs and the ever-increasing cost of FOs. I really think candle supply companies & wax mfgs are making a killing off of us. I don't know many suppliers that have not announced "we're moving into new offices to better serve you." Why don't they just stay in the old bldgs & save us some money.

I will never stop making candles; I love them. But we are definitely phasing down. I am using up supplies and replacing very carefully, only buying what is absolutely necessary. I would like to replace my business by making it a hobby only. Until then, I will pour candles like crazy for fundraisers to use up supplies. I do not believe the small amount we chandlers make is worth it. Let all of those newbies who think making candles will make you rich find out for themselves that it is not worth it. The market is very over-saturated almost everywhere. Is this just a BAD morning for me or have I finally realized & admitted that making candles for others is just not worth it????? Carole :confused: :confused:

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Well, here goes my observation. After 5 years, I have a very successful candle company. I get a lot of fundraisers, in fact we're delivering one next week for total sales of $10,400. Candles have consumed our lives (DH & I) for the whole 5 yrs. I have seen at least 10 candlemakers start up & quit in a very short time. We buy tins by 10,000 to get best price, we buy tureens by the pallet (900 at a time). We have to hold FOs to an avg cost of $13 to $14/#. But the wax cost kills us! There is nothing we can do about it. I do not believe small candle companies like mine can survive because of wax, shipping costs and the ever-increasing cost of FOs. I really think candle supply companies & wax mfgs are making a killing off of us. I don't know many suppliers that have not announced "we're moving into new offices to better serve you." Why don't they just stay in the old bldgs & save us some money.

I will never stop making candles; I love them. But we are definitely phasing down. I am using up supplies and replacing very carefully, only buying what is absolutely necessary. I would like to replace my business by making it a hobby only. Until then, I will pour candles like crazy for fundraisers to use up supplies. I do not believe the small amount we chandlers make is worth it. Let all of those newbies who think making candles will make you rich find out for themselves that it is not worth it. The market is very over-saturated almost everywhere. Is this just a BAD morning for me or have I finally realized & admitted that making candles for others is just not worth it????? Carole :confused: :confused:

I thought you said awhile back, though, that you were making a good profit (like $40-50,000.00/year, or somewhere in that neighborhood)?

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My sales are $50,000+ per year. Sales & profit are are very different. By the time I back out material cost, ins, advertising, overheads, figure cost of my DH's time, I'm left with about 8%. That is a lot of work for $4,000/yr. Remember this is my full-time job. I don't want to discourage anyone from trying. It is an American dream to be successful, to be your own boss and to do what you love, but I just don't think I am smart enough to get around wax, fo, and rising shipping costs. I don't think my market will bear the increases with all the competition. Carole

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My sales are $50,000+ per year. Sales & profit are are very different. By the time I back out material cost, ins, advertising, overheads, figure cost of my DH's time, I'm left with about 8%. That is a lot of work for $4,000/yr. Remember this is my full-time job. I don't want to discourage anyone from trying. It is an American dream to be successful, to be your own boss and to do what you love, but I just don't think I am smart enough to get around wax, fo, and rising shipping costs. I don't think my market will bear the increases with all the competition. Carole

I didn't go back and look up the link - I understand that sales and profit are two very different things. I just thought I remembered you saying you were making that profit. Thanks for the clarification.

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There are more jewelry folks here

That's exactly what I was going to say! I've only done one show and out of about 100 crafters or so, there was only one other candle person. I go to a ton of craft shows with my mom and grandma just to scope them out and see which ones I want to do, and I see maybe one or two candle people at the most....but about 70% of the crafters seem to be jewelry!

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We are oversaturated with jewelers here as well. Probably because Fire Mountain is headquartered here. :) I actually rarely see candles - when I brought them to fairs I was usually the only one. I'm seeing a few soy, more beeswax, popping up now though. Lots of soapers, but we seem to stay out of each others way - when I talk to local customers, they don't know of other soapers

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We have a lot of jewelers here too. I mean ALOT.

There is always someone at the craft shows and markets that have the same items that I have for sale but there is always something that is a little different between us.

For example. You may have two soap makers and one will have mp and the other will have cp. Two totally different types of soap. There are little things that set the crafters apart. Just as the jewelers have their different styles and they way they make each piece they sale. We soap and candle crafters have our differences also. Fragrances, coloring, container and packaging and so on. There will always be something that sets everyone apart.

To sum it all up I would say that YES the market is a little over saturated but I don't care. I will keep on until I get tired. Once that happens .......I will do something else. Its that simple.

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Yes the market is over saturated.. but many are just cheap and if you make a nice product and package it right.. you will get the sales. I did a show with 21 vendors, seven of which were candle makers.. and I did great. Four of the seven were on the same floor as I was. I also do some bnb to get more people into the booth. You can't sell if you can't get them in the booth. Every show is a learning situation, you have to watch people, respond to their likes and dislikes, and actually get out there and sell. Long drawn faces behind a table is not a good way to sell anything. Craft show shoppers have seen the poorly made candle for a long time now.. there has to be a reason to take a chance on yours. I recommend Bruce Bakers cd's on booth design and selling to anyone serious about doing well at shows.

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