Monday, July 14, 2014

Saving Time = Making More Profit!

With “Silly Season” just around the corner I thought this month I’d share some tips on the most efficient way to make your products to minimize the time spent making them. This should help you to maximize your profits. I also will provide some tips on displaying product for retail sale. I personally do about 95% wholesale and I no longer do craft shows but I did them for many years. This will help the person doing smaller shows, larger shows, home parties and especially those wholesaling their products.

To start, master-batch everything you make! This will save SO much time in the long run it’s crazy! The second thing is never make a single one of anything. I have what I call the rule of three. If I am making anything, whether for wholesale or retail, I always make three. That means three of the exact same product. For example when I sell my candles wholesale, I require a full case purchase and you must order in multiples of three. That rule of three has saved me so much time I can’t begin to tell you!

For soap making, I master batch my oils. Instead of measuring & melting a batch worth of each of the oils in my recipe, I FILL a bucket that has a lid (I got this from soap oils years ago) and I fill it with enough of the blended oil to make 16 batches of soap at one time. Think about this. If I were to weigh & melt oils for one batch of soap, the time spent wouldn’t be much different than doing it for 16 batches and then when I go to soap, the oil is ready. I just have to scoop and weigh what I actually need. I also do the same when making my lye solution. Instead of weighing out for a single batch, I take one to two full 2 pound cans per pitcher and make them up so I have plenty of lye for each soaping session, not just for one batch! This really speeds things along when making soap! The photo above shows a single session of soaping for me, on this particular day, I made 23 logs of soap that each have 3 pounds of soap oil in them.

When making candles and melts is is the same thing, I make everything in three. If I am making pillars, jars, melts. It's three of the same size in the same scent. It really takes no more time and then I have the extra on hand OR in the case of wholesale I saved time by NOT making one of a kind. Big companies don't let you buy ones and two of an item wholesale and small companies should be no different. You will end up spending far too much time making and not enough earning a profit! Profit is the name of the game! For candles, to best maximize time and profit be sure you can melt enough wax quickly enough. For the small crafter, a few Presto Kitchen Kettles will do a fine job. They each melt about 7-8 lbs of wax every 15-20 minutes. If larger, you are best off with a commercial wax melter ranging from 80-300 lbs depending on your daily volume. (Bitter Creek South sells a full range of commercial melters!) Here is an average batch of pillar candles for me. Note, three of each size/scent and two sizes of each. It makes it SO much easier to be able to do this in volume! So much faster!

Now that we've got the how to make it it's about how to display it! When you walk into a store, have you ever noticed how appealing a "FULL" shelf is versus an "EMPTY" or picked over shelf? It's true, people LOVE to see more, not less of an item. A full store is a happy store and happy stores make for happy shoppers! The same rule I have for three's also applies to stocking your product for craft shows and in stores. Always make in threes, sixes etc. and display the same. Full shelves! It also helps to use sales tactics to get people to buy in three. For example, if you have ever been to the large chain bath and body store...they like to sell a buy three get three free. Use these same tactics! They work! I always did jelly/mason jar candles and found that if I did buy one for $10, two for $9 or 3 for $8 each I 95% of the time sold three. Now I made a few bucks less but I made up for it on volume! The same applied to lotion, body wash, soap...everything! It really works great!

I hope all the BC customers are all having a safe summer and that the current show circut is doing great for you all. Remember to order you supplies for the Christmas rush early! We don't often run out of things but it's hard when we do. Ordering early will ensure you and your customer always have what is needed!

Happy Crafting!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bathroom Air Freshener!

I know it's not a new idea but I was thinking about making fresheners to match my bathrooms and thought about these long lost little guys! Scented wax dipped toilet paper. Yep, you read that right, toilet paper. ;) They came out pretty darn nice looking and well, of course awesome smelling so I decided to share the project in the hopes that others will try them too.

These are pretty simple and fairly cost effective to make and last a super long time. Just refresh with a warm hair dryer when the scent starts to fade!
Supplies List:
Toilet Paper: I just bought the cheap ones at Target. Single, not double roll.
Any Hard Paraffin Wax. I used the IGI 1343 with 1/2 tsp. per lb. Vybar 103
1.5 oz scent per lb. of wax. For the orange I used Very Vanilla for the blue, Blueberry Muffins
Dye: I used Orange and Blue/Sky liquid candle dye.
Ribbons, bows, dried or silk florals, buttons, medallions etc.
Hot Glue/Tacky Glue (May or may not be needed. I did not need them for mine)
Candle Plate large enough for the TP roll to fit on.

Melt 1/2 lb of wax in your melting vessel, add the vybar. Once melted, weigh in the fragrance and add the dye to a pouring pot, add the melted wax and blend well. Then place the TP roll in and sort of roll it around, flip it over so both ends are saturated and wait for it to absorb all the melted wax. Place the hot roll of scented, waxed TP on a piece of wax paper and allow to cool fully.

 Once your roll of TP has fully cooled you can decorate it any way you would like. I like ribbon and flowers on mine but I've seen people use gems and buttons etc. and they have come out super cute! Just use your imagination and create your very own masterpiece! Here is the blue one finished off as well.

Happy Crafting!

P.S. Just a reminder that Bitter Creek North and South will be closed on Friday July 4, 2014 for Independence Day! Please have a safe and fun filled holiday weekend!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Christmas Cookie Wax Melts!

I love cookies! I mean I really LOVE cookies! I also LOVE wax melts! And I love Christmas too! With so many of the scents of Christmas on sale this month, I figured this was the PERFECT time to give this idea a whirl! This project incorporates three of my favorite things in one! Christmas Cookie Wax Melts!!!!!

The only warning I will make is that these look REAL! My 10 year old son and 16 year old daughter each tried to take one off the plate and eat it! Not bad when the candle maker can fool her own kids! :) 

These are pretty simple to make and if you already make votives or wax melts you may even have what is needed on hand already! 

Supplies List:

Wax: IGI 4794 Votive Blend
Fragrance: I used Homespun Sugar
Dye: I used just a small amount of Brown block dye to get a "baked cookie" color.

Sprinkles or sugar for decorating cookies
Wax Paper

Start by melting your wax per the instructions on the site. When your wax is fully melted, add 1/2 weight oz of scent to 8 weight oz of wax. Allow to cool a bit then pour into a smaller plastic or stainless bowl and allow to further cool until the wax begins to form a skin.

When the wax begins to skin over, start whipping it with your fork to incorporate air. Think Whipping Cream. Just keep doing this so that it does not become one solid mass. Pliability and spreadabilty is key! When it's ready it should look like whipped cream only a bit denser. Like this: 

Next scoop out spoons of the wax and place them on the wax paper The smoother the wax the flatter the cookie, the chunkier the wax the chunkier the cookie. The ones with the round candies on them are done with the wax being a bit looser, the chunkier ones are done when the wax is a bit cooler. Either way they look real and delicious, some just may find one easier to make than the other. 
And there you have it, Christmas Cookies wax melts! These are awesome packaged in clear glass cookie jars at craft shows and for retail sale in the cute window front bags we sell at the north or even in the clear zip top pouches from the south! Try this using our Lemon Pound Cake, Sissies Sugar Cookie etc! Sell by the piece, pound etc! The only thing left is to melt and enjoy!

Happy Scented Goodies Making!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Candy Corn, Ghosts and Jack-o-Lanterns!

For those that wholesale, the groove towards fall and winter is in full swing! Recently I decided that many of the items I've sold for years are just stale and that my business simply needs a boost. How to boost it was the question!? I looked at other candle makers and larger companies and decided it was time to find a niche market, something that wasn't everywhere and out of the blue this adorable idea hit me! Doing seasonal candles that were specific to certain holidays! I will actually be selling mine in a set of three versus individually. I think it gives more appeal. Putting them in a cute crate will be my next step but I will not shrink wrap the set because people LOVE to smell their candles!

This month I will show you what you need to make the adorable Halloween set I made.

Supplies List:

  1. 8 oz. or 16 oz. Smooth Side Mason Jars
  2. Lids (I prefer the Rusty lids or the Black!) 
  3. Fragrance: Perfect Pumpkin WYW, Candy Corn and Honey Pear Cider  
  4. Wax: IGI 4636 works GREAT for making layered candles so I'd recommend that for this 
  5. Dye: Orange Dye Chips, Saturn Yellow Dye Chips and White Dye Chips 
  6. Wicks: If you are making the 8 oz, the 51-32-18z and the 16 oz. the 60-44-18z 
  7. You will also need black and yellow glossy acrylic paints and a fine tip paintbrush.

First assemble your jars. Be sure to wash and dry them well. Pre-heat your oven to the lowest
setting and place the jars in the oven on a cookie sheet. Do this while your wax is melting. Heat for at least 20 minutes. Longer is fine too. :)

  1. For the 16 oz. Jars, each will hold 12.8 weight oz of wax and with the Candy Corn and Honey Pear Cider. 8 weight oz of scent. The candle made from Perfect Pumpkin will use .5 weight oz of scent. 
  2. For the 8 oz. Jars, each will hold 6.4 weigh oz of wax and .4 weight oz of scent. The candle made from Perfect Pumpkin will use .25 weight oz of scent. This will be easiest to do if you have a total of 5 Pouring Pots.
  3. For the 16 oz. jars use 1 white chip total for the Honey Pear Cider for the 8 oz use 1/2 white chip. For the Perfect Pumpkin use 2 Chips per 16 oz jar and 1 per 8 oz. For the Candy Corn split the wax three ways. 2 pots each weighing 4 oz and the remainder in the third. This wax is already scented! For the Yellow (a 4 oz pot) add 1 Saturn Yellow Chip, for the orange which is the largest of the three pots, add one Orange Chip and the top will be the white and that will use 1/2 a White Chip.

Heat wax to 185-190*. Once wax reaches desired temp, add your dye, blend well then add fragrance and again blend well. This wax should be poured between 180-185* into heated containers and cooled as slow as possible for optimal adhesion to glass and a smoother finished candle top. The increased pour temp will allow for more even cooling and less sink holes. 

For the Candy Corn Candle, pour each layer as you can. I allow the candles to cool until they are cool to the touch before pouring the next layer. For the second and third colors I recommend pouring at 165-170* into room temp glass. 

The end result is three candles that all have Halloween Appeal! Paint cute Jack-o-Lantern faces on the Perfect Pumpkin Candle and a cute face on the Honey Pear Cider Ghost and you have the perfect Halloween Trio!

For Christmas, consider a green candle scented in Oh Christmas Tree, with bulbs painted on. A White and Red Striped Candle scented in Candy Cane. A Red Candle with a black band in the center with a buckle painted on for Ole St. Nick scented in Old Fashioned Christmas! You could do the same for so many holidays! Just use your imagination! 

Hope this idea will help you make your year one of the most successful yet!
Happy Candlemaking!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pricing Your Products.

Before I even type a word on how to price, I want to stress that if you plan to sell to stores or just at shows, this is very important to understand. Everyone is in business with one common goal and that is to make money. Be sure to really know how to price what you sell before you venture off into the big world of selling both wholesale and retail. Pricing isn't easy but there is absolutely a formula that will help you to both price your products fairly so that you are both making enough and at the same time not pricing yourself out of the market you plan to sell in.

1. Production Costs + 2. Labor + 3. Profit Margin = 4. Wholesale Price.

1. What is a production cost?
The cost of raw materials, transportation fees, custom taxes/surcharges and a percentage of your overall expenses for doing business (rent, equipment, licenses, and insurance). Most small businesses like ours do not yet have rent to consider but you may have other expenses that should be included in this list as well.

2. What is a labor cost?
Calculate the overall production costs and then divide by your total number of products made to determine the per-product production cost. Sometimes in a very small business where it's a one man show, typical of our type of industry, this is something over looked or plain and simply omitted.

Now that you have this figured out, you will want to add the production cost and the labor cost together to come up with the actual cost to make your product.
3. Next is to come up with the ideal profit margin.This isn't something that is an exact science I am afraid. A lot of consideration needs to be given at this point. For example I like to double my overall cost to make the product. So I take the production cost and the labor cost, add them together. Let's just say I am making a car freshener and my production cost and labor cost come out to $.90 per piece (this is not a real number, I just tossed in a figure to show you what I mean.). Ideally I'd like to wholesale that at a 100% profit but lets just say that if I wholesaled them at $1.80 and the rest of my competitors are selling them for $1.50, I would likely get less business and in fact they are a fairly simple product to make so instead of making $.90 profit, I would choose instead to make $.60 profit and hope that over the long haul with increased buying power of the supplies to make them I could cut the production costs down.

4. The biggest thing to look at is how many will I be making, how fast can I make them, are they simple or hard to make and determine that profit margin  accordingly. Ideally, the cost of making the product and the profit should be equal in determining wholesale prices. So for most items if it costs $1.00 to make in total the wholesale price would be $2.00.

Wholesale Price x 2 = Standard Retail Mark-up.

This leads me to retail mark up. I see SO MANY candle & soap makers out there selling themselves short and in doing so actually driving themselves out of business. It breaks my heart to see this! I can not tell you how many times I have been told that they can't get a higher price for their product and retail at a wholesale price. What I will tell you is that I have sold my products in nearly all 50 states, every province in Canada and in Europe and I know my product is priced wholesale competitive to Yankee, etc. so when someone tells me that you can't get that price there, I ask if Yankee is sold near them. The answer is always: Yes. Trust me, it's about image, if you create a craft looking product expect craft prices. Make your product shine and you too can charge what the big boys do! Don't undersell yourself or your product.

So what you have to look at is what type of a profit margin are the places selling your product looking to make? Typically a gift shop will at least want to double their investment. So if they are buying an item for $2 they will want to make at least $2 so they will likely sell it for about $4. 
What this tells me is the best way to look at pricing is as follows:
If it costs you $1 to make an item, the typical wholesale will be $2
If a shop buys an item for $2 wholesale expect them to retail that item for $4
So the formula on most items will be:
Cost x 2 for Wholesale
Cost x 4 for Retail.

As I stated before these formulas are just suggestions and there can be reasons to deviate from this as well. But using it as a guideline will help you to know how to best price your products in the future! It's always a good idea before you make a product to know what others are selling it for both retail and wholesale so you can make the best decisions possible when choosing the supplies and pricing.

Happy Candle and Soap Making!