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5 Lessons I Learned From Running a Candle Business

bold colourful candle lit with some matches

For those that don’t know me, before the branding biz, I tried my hand at slinging candles on the internet for a couple of years, which I LOVED, and while it ultimately led me to branding, it taught me a LOT about running a business. Here are five lessons I've learned from running a candle business that I hope will help you NOT make the mistakes I did.

1. Instagram Followers Mean F*** All

Let’s start with the hard truth: Instagram followers don’t necessarily translate to sales. Sure, having a decent following can give you a nice ego boost, but if they’re not converting into customers, they’re just numbers. My account grew fairly quickly (back when Instagram wasn’t out for blood), but most of these accounts were either other candle makers, service providers trying to turn me into a customer, or bots (love me some bots). Focus on engaging with the followers who actually buy your products and build real relationships. It’s quality over quantity, every time.

2. Spending Time ON Your Business Is Just as Important as Creating Products

We all love the creative process – that’s why we got into this in the first place, right? But spending all your time making beautiful candles and neglecting the business side is a recipe for disaster. You need to set aside time for marketing, planning, and all those unglamorous admin tasks. Think of your business as a plant: it needs regular care and attention to grow. I was scrambling every week to think of what to post on social media because I hadn’t put any strategy work in when I started the business, which made me unclear on who I was targeting, what I needed to share, and how to convert sales.

3. Have Some Confidence!

It’s easy to second-guess yourself, especially when sales are slow, or a product doesn’t take off as expected. But here’s the thing: if you don’t believe in your brand, why should anyone else? Confidence is contagious. When you’re confident about your products and your brand, it shows. I launched around 4 ranges over 2 years, and while all of them sold out, I wasn’t making nearly enough stock to make it profitable, because I was scared that if I made loads of candles, they wouldn’t sell. I was scared to fail, which was 100% my biggest failing!

4. Investing Is the Only Way to Grow

a stack of three candle boxes with pink labels

Look, I get it, starting a DIY business is super easy these days, and they’ve increased HUGELY since we all had some free time in 2020. The issue is, while doing your own marketing, design, and photography seems like a great way to save some money, it’ll actually massively hinder your growth.

People (like me) have trained, tried and tested, and become experts in these services, which means anything we put out is going to be based on results, rather than a ‘that’ll do’ attitude which will look cheap, and won’t lead to sales. I WISH I invested sooner in product photography for the candle business, and if I were to do it again, it would 100% be the first thing I did.

5. It’s Bloody Hard

Let’s not sugar-coat it: running any business is tough. There will be late nights, financial worries, and moments of doubt. But if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. The key is to keep pushing through the hard times and not lose sight of why you started in the first place. Passion and perseverance go a long way in this game. I closed my business because ultimately, I wanted to invest my time in designing, but it was one of the most rewarding things I did.

If you’re thinking about starting your own business, or if you’re already in the trenches, I hope these insights help you navigate the journey a little easier!


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