How to Start a Soap & Candle Business

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Making candles and soap at home is an enjoyable craft that can also be transformed into a lucrative small business. If you decide to turn your hobby into a career, it’s important to know the basics of a new business and the specific ways in which candles and soaps can be marketed and sold together.

Things You'll Need

  • Candle and soap stock
  • Camera
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Printing and advertising budget

Choose a niche for your business. Candle and soap businesses are a popular cottage industry, so you will need a distinctive angle to get ahead and be memorable. Look for things such as unifying visual design, ingredients (such as soy or beeswax), or scents. Find a way to tie your candles and soaps together, such as making lotion candles and moisturizing soaps or offering your candles and soaps in the same line of colors and scents.

Name your small business. Create a name that reflects your niche, but is also memorable and simple.

Get a business license. Contact your local city and state governments for information about requirements and processes, as this varies by area (generally, basic license information is available on state government Web sites).

Create a Web site and promotional materials. Feature high-quality photos of your soaps and candles (lighted and unlighted) and information about all products you offer on your Web site. Create business cards and fliers that show off your best photos and that direct buyers to a place where they can buy your product.

Decide whether to sell primarily online, in person, or a mix of both. Keep in mind that it’s difficult to get new customers for scented candles or soaps, as they have no way to know they’ll like the fragrance. However, if the appeal of your product is primarily visual, you can still do a lot of business this way.

Set up online sales. Your best choices are to sell through a vending or auction site (like eBay.com or etsy.com), set up a PayPal shopping cart (see www.paypal.com/ for instructions on how to do this), or to build or commission and independent e-commerce Web site. This latter option, however, is expensive and time-consuming and will require the services of a highly skilled Web designer.

Sell at fairs and events. Candles and soap are commonly sold at events where crafts are sold, but soap makers are also commonly featured at farmers markets. Find fairs by keeping an eye on local classified ads (fair organizers will often advertise for vendors) and by talking to vendors at any local events you attend; word-of-mouth is often the most reliable means of staying abreast of local craft vendor events. Local farmers markets, however, will often have their own Web sites, as they occur more often.

Make retail sales connections. Visit local businesses and talk to the owners or send out professional-looking, full-color glossy brochures of your products. Target independent stores that sell cosmetics, housewares, locally made gifts, New Age items, groceries or natural/herbal products. Discuss both wholesale selling (where retailers purchase stock from you, then sell it at a profit) and consignment (where retailers stock your product and keep a portion of the revenue if it sells).

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References

  • "Start Your Own Crafts Business," various authors, Enterpreneur Press, 2003
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