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How do you deal with competiton?


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Ok... a new candle company came to 'town' and moved into a location that is within driving distance. Now, I know a lot of the candle makers around here and we generally work together as we see each other at shows and all. Well I strolled into their store, and was poking around. I struck up a conversation with the owner and when she found out I was a candle maker something in her switched. I said, I heard there was a new candle company in town I wanted to come and see if it was anyone I know. She said "Oh" I said its nice to see what others are doing and how business is going and she replied "I don't generally check out other companies I try not to steal ideas" So I said oh there is nothing here that compare to what I do. I stay away from paraffin, won't touch palm (which I noticed hers were made wrong... very very wrong) and wouldn't think of doing gel candles. I guess I came off as nasty so she felt the need to tell me one of her products (which were very ugly, and not unique) was "...trademarked so don't think of stealing those" So it got me wondering. Do you treat your competition like an enemy? Or try and work together?

Before I found these boards I have gained all my information essentially interning with some other candle manufacturers. I also encourage others to begin making candles. To me any product made by hand locally is a good thing and if someone can use candles as a starting point for their business, life, friendship... whatever they value it is a good thing. Never mind they might take A customer or two... when it comes down to it true candle lovers will buy from both and those who love doing what they do will come out ahead. So does anybody else have competition stories or a different way of dealing with competition?

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It wasn't anything special either. I don't really want to say exactly what it was but it was a kind of ContAiNer... actually it is just the name that was trademarked. I could do the actual ContAiNers (though there are safety issues so I would not do it) i just couldn't call it the name she trademarked for her CANdles... At the end of everything when she realized I ONLY work in soy for my candles she was sort of "oh poor soul" and talked about how she thinks soy is terrible because she poured 10 pounds once. She says it doesn't burn right, smell right, it sweats, and all the stuff that someone experienced in soy know how to do right... I let her think that. Won't hurt me any.

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So she paid the money to be trademarked? Doubting that, but I guess it's possible.

I'd say you made the first move and most crafters are suspicious in nature. Some form friendships and share. Others keep things closely guarded. Shame that she couldn't have been more personable. Shame on her though for not paying attention to what the competition is doing.

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It wasn't anything special either. I don't really want to say exactly what it was but it was a kind of ContAiNer... actually it is just the name that was trademarked. I could do the actual ContAiNers (though there are safety issues so I would not do it) i just couldn't call it the name she trademarked for her CANdles... At the end of everything when she realized I ONLY work in soy for my candles she was sort of "oh poor soul" and talked about how she thinks soy is terrible because she poured 10 pounds once. She says it doesn't burn right, smell right, it sweats, and all the stuff that someone experienced in soy know how to do right... I let her think that. Won't hurt me any.

Soooooooooo, what kind of can? lol

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I do find it interesting how people get so guarded. I can understand not handing out your recipes, I haven't started yet but I know it will be a long process of finding the right mixture of everything, color, scent, wax mix etc. . . well you all know the work it takes to get it right. So I can understand her not handing out that information. But for someone to think that it hasn't been done tells me that well they haven't found this board much less the rest of the interwebs. I have seen fights of companies who claim they have an original idea but you see someone else who had been doing that same idea for longer. I think anyone who does that should back it up or shut up. (And being the first person to TM something doesn't mean you were the first) Cause it makes the rest of us out there who just want to start a peaceful business look like big jerks. I think everyone can work in harmony with each other because well everyone has something to offer someone. One thing I learned from being a massage therapist is that one therapist can't help each person, there were clients I saw all the time, then there were clients I would see once then tell them about another therapist that might be able to help them better.

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Before I found these boards I have gained all my information essentially interning with some other candle manufacturers. I also encourage others to begin making candles. To me any product made by hand locally is a good thing and if someone can use candles as a starting point for their business, life, friendship... whatever they value it is a good thing. Never mind they might take A customer or two... when it comes down to it true candle lovers will buy from both and those who love doing what they do will come out ahead. So does anybody else have competition stories or a different way of dealing with competition?

And I agree with you, I won't stop buying from others when I start making. And anyone who truly loves what they do will come out ahead, unless they step on heads then they'll have some angry people behind them.

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I can be fairly guarded on what I do. I've had a couple of people try to burn me in the past with getting information. One of them asked my process for making certain candles that I sell wholesale, then went to duplicate it (poorly) and try to sell directly to some of the stores I was supplying. Didn't make me very happy.

My stuff is primarily off the beaten path anyway. I work with paraffin, but we make the majority of our own molds. For us, soy doesn't work because it's just not strong enough to work in the silicone molds. I've got nothing against it, just doesn't work for me. Here, I don't mind sharing a lot of what I do. It helps others, and I don't see anyone here poaching either. As for competition locally, there isn't much for me on the way of candle makers. The one store we have local does sand cast candles and I just don't have the patience to work with those at this point. No big deal. I dabble in soaps too, but nothing to be a major competition to anyone, so that's not an issue either. Often I share techniques with others just for that reason. *shrug*

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I can be fairly guarded on what I do. I've had a couple of people try to burn me in the past with getting information. One of them asked my process for making certain candles that I sell wholesale, then went to duplicate it (poorly) and try to sell directly to some of the stores I was supplying. Didn't make me very happy.

Oh I agree, I definitely won't give out my recipes or even tell them how I made them (maybe when I get old and "retire" I'd teach classes lol). When I first fell in love with the idea of making my own candles was from a woman's shop, she made the most amazing smelling candles and I had told her that it was an interesting thought and I'd like to try it. She said go for it but she would never give out how she does it because she put a lot of time and energy into learning how to run her business successfully if it was something I was interested in I would have to do the same thing. (A lot of people have come up to her about the same interest in starting their own business although I'm pretty sure only 1% actually follow through). And believe me I'm working really hard all day coming up with this business. It's definitely a fun process!

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Whenever I go to my craft shows I try to make a habit of going around to the other candle booths prior to opening and introducing myself. It always amazes me the number of those who sudden look like deer in headlights !! Lol They don't know if I should be treated as friend or foe. I have always believed that competition is good for my business. Also, if I know what other candle makers have at the shows, I can guide customers to them if I do not have what they are looking for. I also would not give away "secrets", but I am not afraid of competition.

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Its hard to just roll it off thats for sure. I was at a show earlier this year and a guy started taking pics while i was setting up. I told him no taking pics...he went on to say i stole his idea and he has it patented. Um, since when can you patent a candle and btw 5 other companies are doing the same thing exhibiting at this show. Show managment asked me to remove it cause he claimed he had a patent...i said hell no!!! Show me the patent! As much as it bothered me the entire show...it was my best show ever! Funny how I never heard from him again...I will see him again in February at the next show...I feel its just jealousy now. I try to be friendly with all my competitors but most dont want to be, what a shame.

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My thoughts on your question have changed over the past 15 years. Long ago we closely guarded everything about our craft and business and tried to sneakily get others secrets and techniques. My wife and I laugh about it now. Today, things are different. We don't exactly have competitors. We do a lot of wholesale and have a very successful store. No craft shows or anything like that. We love, love talking with fellow candlemakers who are friendly, open and ask for help. Now, we do not give them formulas, supplier lists, etc; to me, they should work hard to find and develop their own techniques. Works best in the long run. Guess I don't care for grasshoppers (lazy people). We love helping candle makers who are trying.

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Well it is sort of a normal can, it was what she called her cans. When I saw them I was like "Why would someone do that, it doesn't look safe."

Another story from today. I was at a show and I had all my stuff out and right behind me I had a Scentsy rep. My experiences with Scentsy reps have been less than great, but I wandered over and said I'm just bein' nosy, and picked up the scentsy travel thing and was smelling it. We got to talking and I actually had a good conversation with her. We talked about tarts and warmers and candles and what paraffin was and how it differs from soy. She came over smelled some of my stuff and I actually got a bar from her. She had retired bars for $4 so I found one I kind of loved - Fried Ice Cream to run some tests. We also traded cards.

I noticed Scentsy has switched over to a new scent sample, they switched to what looks like 1/3 oz samples instead of their 2.5oz (about) samples they did. She said she thinks they loose their scent and I told her it was probably because they can make them for around $.25 instead of the others which probably cost them 1.25... and I also told her the tarts she sells for 5 dollars probably cost Scentsy around $1 and the $30 warmers likely cost them around $6

As for the patent it is very very expensive to patent something.... I'd be interested in knowing what it was he thinks he patented. It wouldn't be hard to look up the patent or trademark (which I did look up on the other person and couldn't find anything on it but she says she had been making them for 10 years so it might not be in the digitalized database)

I have to say I have never asked anybody about their exact formula I actually wouldn't think of it. I spent thousands of dollars and months of my time formulating what I have now I would never think of just changing because some person said they did it x way... I do ask if they are soy, and if they use a parasoy blend. I had one local person who call them natural soy and they use 6006 which absolutely kills me... but anyway... I do smell scents I've never seen before and I smell some basic scents to see what others think is acceptable. I have noticed lately there has been a distinct scent that is present in a lot of my competitions candles, it is some kind of chemical-e scent that is perplexing. There has only ever been one supplier I have gotten that "tone" from though a supplier who is close to us sells scents I think from the same scent house which is why I don't use them.

I think I've rambled enough but I am kind of excited to test out this scentsy bar. I am most interested in how well it pops out of the container after it is cooled. I do want to find a supplier of low temp melters that don't look ugly. I found one supplier but they don't fit my style. I want a good quality warmer that tops out at 140. It is so hard to find!

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I'm doing research on this information now, I'm tired of being misinformed. So when I understand more or find useful information I will post it. And from what I can see, you can search patents up to 1976 so even tho something has been done for a while you should still be able to find it.

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What I don't get is how someone claims copyright on a "design" that has been done before by other crafters? Like for example the pillar candles with wax drip on them, how can someone claim that design idea as theirs when I've seen it before? Can candles even be copyrighted to begin with since copyright from what I understand is for literary works and art etc. . . Not that candle making isn't an art for cause there are lots of beautiful candles on this site alone. Soooo much reading! Is anyone here knowledgeable about this subject matter? Patents? TM? Copyrights? I definitely will find a good lawyer to keep around in case something ugly does happen (I actually have read this everywhere to begin with when I read up on starting a business everyone says find a good lawyer).

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Normally the patent holder sends a cease and desist letter before legal action as it is very very costly to pursue legal action and takes a very long time, normally years. You can have a patent on just about anything, normally techniques. Trademarks are for the look of something that indicates the source of the product, a label, or style. Copyrights are normally for written works. Slogans can be trademarked and copyrighted. Trademarks are use it or loose it. Copyrights go on well past the author's lifetime. Patents are for the inventors of a technique or new style and are only valid for 20 years.

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I love competition.... and the way they watch me :)

Competition is good for the market place and I totally embrace it.

Couldn't say it better then Sherri did here.

We have a market we do and the owners are on the line of (if your a specialty vendor then no one can carry that item), now personally I love when the competition come in....Were friendly with all of ours but it does amaze me at how many will come over and do the 50 ?'s trying to get all your tips/secrets... Had one last year that did candles and B&B and when she tried our candles, she spent the next weekend at our booth asking what wax, FO, suppliers, melt temps, type of wick, etc..... Told her one answer for them all.... GOOGLE IT! =)

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It wasn't anything special either. I don't really want to say exactly what it was but it was a kind of ContAiNer... actually it is just the name that was trademarked. I could do the actual ContAiNers (though there are safety issues so I would not do it) i just couldn't call it the name she trademarked for her CANdles... At the end of everything when she realized I ONLY work in soy for my candles she was sort of "oh poor soul" and talked about how she thinks soy is terrible because she poured 10 pounds once. She says it doesn't burn right, smell right, it sweats, and all the stuff that someone experienced in soy know how to do right... I let her think that. Won't hurt me any.

p.s. I still want to know what she trademarked :)

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