Tonight I had the pleasure of speaking with Donna Neighbors. Donna Neighbors owns her own candle making business, Neighbors Den Candles. She took the time to speak with me about the aspects of her business. Here is what transpired during our conversation.
What made you decide to get into making candles?
Donna: It was a hobby. I was tired of buying candles at the store that didn’t have a lot of fragrance and it didn’t last a long once it was lit. So I started to melt the old candles down and making my own. Adding more fragrance and color.
How did you go from a hobby to selling candles?
Donna: My friends liked them the way I made them and mentioned that I should start selling them
How long have you been in the candle making business now?
Donna: Over 5 years
What materials does one need to make candles at home?
Donna: Wax, melting pot, color blocks or liquid dye, wicking, molds and fragrance oils
What is the process of making these candles?
Donna: Well each manufacturer has their own formula. You have to melt the wax to a certain temperature then add the color and fragrance. Once all that has blended you pour them into the mold after you have set the wicking. Then it comes down to time waiting for the wax to set. Once the wax is set you demold the candle and go on to the packaging.
How long does it take to produce a candle?
Donna: It takes anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours. It all depends on the amount of wax in each candle. A tart can take 10 minutes and a large pillar candle (1 lb or better) can take 2 hours to set.
When you make your candles do you use premade molds are do you make your own molds for your candles?
Donna: I buy all my molds from mold companies. If I want a particular mold that is not available I can send in a figurine, for instance, and they can produce a mold from that figurine. There are materials out there so you can make your own molds but I choose to allow another company to make them to save time
What have you found to be the best kind of wax to use when making your candles?
Donna: I have experimented with several types of wax but found a one-pour blend the best to work with for my smaller molds and a pre-blended pillar wax for my larger molds
How do you determine the price to charge for your candles?
Donna: That all depends on the price of the materials. I divide the amount of wax by the price, ex. One pound of wax by the price per pound to figure out what the cost is per ounce. I follow the same formula for fragrance and coloring. Wicking is figured out per inch for each candle. Labeling and packaging is done on per candle basis. Once all the figures are calculated on a per candle basis, I then double that price or sometimes triple it to cover all the costs and time so that a profit is produced.
What would make your candles different than the candles that can be bought in the stores at a cheaper price?
Donna: I make high quality candles, which have a large amount of fragrance, which burns through the entire candle. That is something that larger retail stores cannot provide. Another difference is that all my candles are custom made to the consumer’s specifications. A consumer can order a candle in any color and fragrance that is available
What avenues do you use to sell your candles?
Donna: I use the Internet mostly and I also sell locally. In the near future I will also be selling in a retail location.
How much does it cost to start a candle making business?
Donna: That all depends on your own personal finances. I started mine on $300 and slowly expanded from there. A person that decides to buy wholesale candles and not produce them can start on a five or six hundred dollars and those wishing to produce them can start off with a few molds, fragrances and colors on just $ 300.
What advice would you offer to someone that wants to get into the business of candle making?
Donna: Do a lot of research. Research the market, the competition, material costs, and also talk to local competitors. Finding the materials at the lowest cost with the best quality is one of the hardest things. It has taken me years to find my supplies at the cost I pay to allow me to keep my prices at a competitive amount.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about your candle making business. I wish you lots of success.
Donna: I hope so I need all the luck I can get