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How to scale your handmade candle business Five proven strategies for makers focused on sustainable scaling.

You started making candles because you loved it. Encouraged by friends and family, you then began selling your scented creations at local markets and online. And customers flocked to your products! Now, a couple of years in, you're thrilled by the growth and ever-increasing sales—but exhausted from the grind. While pouring, packing, and shipping non-stop, you wonder if there's a better way.

Have you found yourself in this scenario? Fortunately, there is a better way— it’s called scaling your business!

After experiencing both the excitement and fatigue from your candle business's growth, it's natural for makers at this point in their entrepreneurial journey to seek a more sustainable way of doing business. That’s where scaling comes in. 

In this article, we cover five strategies to take your handmade candle business to the next level with scaling. From switching to large-batch production and purchasing supplies in bulk to tapping into wholesale opportunities, leveraging automated email marketing for retail sales, and hiring help to lighten your workload, we show you a path toward a more sustainable business. 

How scaling differs from growing a business

Before diving into the strategies for scaling your handmade candle business, it's helpful to understand the difference between scaling and growing. We often see the terms used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences worth noting.

Growing a business typically refers to increasing revenue by adding new products and expanding your customer base. Growth usually focuses on increasing sales and market share without necessarily optimizing processes for efficiency or profitability.

This can look like doing in-person events every weekend or purchasing social media ads to bring in new customers. Both of these growth strategy examples can absolutely increase your overall sales—but they don’t necessarily equate to proportional profits relative to the time, money, and energy spent on them.

Scaling involves increasing a business's capacity to handle greater demand without significantly increasing costs. It's about optimizing your operations and infrastructure to support increased production and sales while maintaining efficiency and profitability.

Let's say you've been pouring candles individually as you receive orders. To scale, you would switch to making multiple candles of each scent in advance to produce more in less time and better meet demand. While scaling a business can absolutely facilitate growth, the main goal is working toward optimal efficiency and profitability.

How to know when you're ready to scale

So how do you know the right time to scale your business? There are three indicators:

  • High demand
  • Strong pricing structure
  • Demonstrated profitability and positive cashflow

The first sign of being ready to scale is that demand for your products is high—to the point of possibly being overwhelming! Are you receiving so many orders you’re struggling to make the candles and fulfill orders in a timely manner? Do you routinely sell out at in-person markets and events? Are customers repeatedly purchasing from you and leaving glowing reviews? High demand like this tells you that you’ve created a market-worthy product and found an enthusiastic target market. All of which bodes well for scaling!

But high demand alone isn’t enough. How you price your candles and setting a strong pricing structure that includes the true cost of goods (COGs) also affects the ability to scale. Accurately calculating all variable costs and fixed costs is the first part of the pricing equation. If you’ve taken the total of those costs and then set prices using the appropriate markups, you’re on the way to being able to scale.

The third key to scaling readiness is profitability. By nailing down your COGs and setting prices with robust margins, you’re virtually guaranteed to have a profitable business. But be sure to take a look at your financial records and determine whether your business is indeed profitable and has a positive cash flow.

All together, if your business is experiencing high demand and sales, has a profitable price structure, and your business bank account’s balance continues to increase, then you’re in a position to scale your business. Now, let’s get into the five strategies to successfully start scaling your business!

1. Set up your workspace and flow for larger-batch production

Having a workspace that supports higher production and optimizing it for efficiency is a cornerstone of scaling. This doesn’t mean that you need an entire workshop, but it does require thinking through how you can best arrange the space you already have to accommodate your goals. A well-thought-out workspace reduces wasted time and resources.

Switching to a large-batch candle production model is also of great importance. Batching your candle making maximizes your candle output and minimizes downtime between tasks. Part of this change includes upgrading your candle making equipment and adding tools that allow you to make more candles at once. Though the addition of new tools requires an upfront expense, these investments often very quickly pay for themselves through saved time and increased production.

2. Order supplies in bulk

Another necessary aspect of scaling your handmade candle business is ordering supplies in bulk from reliable suppliers. It’s understandable to feel hesitant about increasing your order sizes because of the higher total cost. But there are two main benefits of ordering bulk candle making supplies: cost and time savings.


You enjoy cost savings per unit when ordering in bulk, whether it’s per container piece or per ounce of fragrance oil. And larger orders come with shipping discounts. Both of these cost savings translate into higher profit margins that you can reinvest into other areas of your business—such as marketing or product development—or bank as profit. Buying in bulk also reduces the frequency of reordering, which saves time and administrative costs associated with managing inventory.

Relatedly, working with trustworthy suppliers who ship on time is crucial for scaling your business. Timely delivery of the materials you need ensures delay-free production on your end, which is especially important when increasing production volume, maintaining customer satisfaction, and sustaining growth. 

PRO TIP

UPS orders with CandleScience ship the same day and these shipping tips will help you get the most out of every order you place.

3. Explore wholesale

Wholesale, or selling your products in bulk to retail shops who then sell them to the end customer, is often vital to having a sustainably scaled candle business. 

Wholesale transactions involve larger order quantities, and when compared to retail orders, means fewer individual transactions to manage. This alone streamlines your time spent processing, packaging, and shipping orders. In the amount of time it takes to fulfill several separate retail orders, you can pack and ship one wholesale order worth hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.

Selling your candles wholesale can also result in repeat higher-value orders. When partnering with retail shops and stores that are a good fit for your brand, their regular re-orders provide you with a steady, often predictable, income stream.

Lastly, having your candles on store shelves can lead to more customers discovering your business. This often contributes to increases in retail sales on your own websites, and other stores discovering your line.

If part of your business growth has included selling your candles on consignment, definitely consider expanding into wholesale! Both selling avenues share similarities but consignment can require more time and effort in the long run. As makers continue in their journey, many graduate from consignment to wholesale and enjoy its greater efficiency.

To learn more about wholesale, check out this guide on how to get started in wholesale, as well as these in-depth articles on creating a wholesale line sheet, finding retailers to work with, and pitching your wholesale candles to stores.

PRO TIP

A variant of wholesale that is also quite scalable is selling white label candles. White label candles use the same containers and fragrances in your wholesale line but bear a customer’s label and branding instead of yours. And the demand for candles that appear personalized for a particular shop or business continues to grow.

Once you have an established wholesale program, adding a white label option can provide you with an additional income stream—for a modest amount of effort—since the production process to make white label candles is identical to wholesaling. If this sounds intriguing, learn all about the benefits of white label candles and how to price white label candles.

4. Use email marketing

While wholesale’s efficiency is in a class of its own, you can also scale your retail sales with email marketing. Whether you're nurturing relationships with existing customers or reaching out to potential ones, starting and growing an email list is a vital step to keep your brand top of mind to drive both new and repeat sales.

The other component of this scaling strategy is using automated emails. These emails are triggered by specific shopper or customer behaviors and don’t require your involvement beyond setting them up. They deliver targeted messages to the right people at the right time and can significantly increase your sales conversion rates.

Unlike advertising, which can come with a steep investment, email marketing allows you to communicate directly and economically with your audience in a personalized and targeted manner. And email marketing is vastly more effective at reaching your subscribers than social media algorithms are at showing your posts to followers!

In fact, 59% of people in a 2022 survey said that email marketing plays a significant role in what they decide to buy. So adding it to your overall business strategy can boost sales and make the most of your marketing efforts.

5. Hire team members

As the old adage goes, many hands make light work. And that is especially true for products like candles! At a certain point, you can only accomplish so much as one person with a growing business. If you’re struggling to meet ever-increasing demand, even after implementing these other four scaling strategies, then creating a team is essential.

Hiring team members allows you to pursue business opportunities that would be challenging—or perhaps even impossible—to pursue alone. Making strategic hires also allows you to step back from the competing operational duties and focus on higher-level decisions that will drive your business forward. Adding employees to your team with expertise and specialized knowledge also makes your business more efficient and effective. And a final benefit of hiring? Achieving better work-life balance for you!

When going from a solopreneurship to a team, many makers end up hiring one or more of these roles depending on their needs:

  • Production assistant for pouring and processing candles, and packaging and shipping orders.
  • Bookkeeper or accountant to complete financial activities like reconciling records, providing reports, and handling sales and income taxes.
  • Administrative or virtual assistant for customer service, social media, and marketing support.

Clearly defining job tasks, responsibilities, and roles in advance will make finding the right talent easier. And remember, these roles can start off as part-time positions that grow into full-time positions as the business evolves. 

Setting your sights on scaling

Scaling a business requires careful planning, strategic execution, and a commitment to maintaining the quality and integrity of your brand. It means recognizing key indicators of readiness, optimizing your production processes, leveraging bulk orders and wholesale opportunities, harnessing the power of email marketing, and hiring employees when needed.

By scaling your business, you can continue to delight customers with your handmade creations while having a business that’s enjoyable to operate—and more sustainable and viable in the long-term.

If you’re interested in more candle business content, be sure to check out our Business Guides. You’ll find in-depth articles on topics like selling wholesale to stores, at markets, and on consignment. Plus get helpful ideas for social media posts, taking product photos with natural light, saving time in your business, and more!