The Price of Small Businesses & Their Products

This blog post has been inspired by someone recently asking me why my candles cost so much. Why should someone pay “considerably more” for my candles when they can get candles for just £1 in supermarkets and bargain stores? It’s maybe a fair question to some, so let me explain.

I started making candles 9 years ago. I’ve always loved scented candles and the ambience they create, but I was frustrated that the majority of candles on the market at that time seemed to lack scent throw after the first burn. And they tunnelled badly. I began to question why, and suspect that some candles on the market are only scented towards the top so that you can smell them when you lift off the lid, but the company saves money by not fragrancing them throughout.

It took the first year of experimenting with making candles before I was confident to give them to family and friends. When I first started out I learned about the different kind of waxes, wicks, fragrances and containers available. There was a LOT of costly trial and error, believe me!

I started out making soy wax candles. I was attracted by the eco and vegan friendly, clean burning, sustainable properties that this wax boasted. My candles are now made from a soy/vegetable wax hybrid. This retains all the above properties, but it’s a specially formulated harder wax that in my opinion sets better and burns longer. This wax is made in Scotland, which in turn supports another small British business. #winwin. In fact, all my candle supplies are sourced from UK based small businesses.

I researched and learned about wicks and how it’s so important to select the correct wick size for your container. Wicks are made from different materials and can be coated or uncoated. Add in that different fragrances burn will differently to others, this means that a simple candle wick isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. I use a range of different size cotton wicks coated in natural wax that I have thoroughly tested. I put all the knowledge I’ve gained into a handy candle care sheet which comes with every candle so that if you follow the instructions, you candle will burn properly and not leave any wasted wax.

And as for fragrance, I spend more money from the outset on high quality paraben & phthalate free fragrances that will give you the cleanest and strongest burn.

What a minefield. How easy would it be to get all of the above wrong?!

This means that when you’re buying one of my candles you’re not just buying the pretty packaging that I’ve carefully designed and the gorgeous scent, you’re also buying the 9 years of experimentation, blood, sweat and tears (metaphorically- these aren’t part of the candle ingredients.)

Factor in that from the price of each product I need to pay for the materials. As a small business where money and storage space aren’t abundant, this means that I can’t buy in massive bulk like the well-established companies. I also need to pay for utilities. I also need to pay tax. And by creating a product that someone could potentially burn their house down with- I need to pay insurance!

I melt the wax in small batches and hand pour each candle individually which is time consuming. I don’t rely on machinery. This means that each candle is carefully controlled and the best quality it can be, but this means that my time needs to be compensated. I’m trying to run a business here after all.

So when you think of it like this, my candle prices are actually a total bargain! After writing this, I’m starting to think that I need to hike the prices UP…

Hopefully I’ve explained WHY my candles cost more than some others on the market. And I’m happy for people to buy a £1, half-filled candle probably made in China if they want to. Which by the way, won’t adhere to the strict CLP safety rules that chandlers here in the UK must abide with.

So please, do not try and make me feel guilty about my “overpriced” candles. Well, you can if you want, but I’m simply not going to.

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But this isn’t just about me & my candles. It applies to my artwork, my other products, my Interior Design and Colour Packages. It applies to all products and services offered by other Small Businesses. The value of products and services can’t and shouldn’t be judged on monetary value alone. You’re buying all those hours they spent training and perfecting.

I try and buy from small businesses when I can because I know the amount of love, care and attention that they put in, trying to sell what they truly believe in and are passionate about.

In the world of one-click Amazon or internet shopping (which I’m not adverse to by the way, I do it too) it’s easier and more convenient to shop this way. But are you helping small businesses on there sustain their livelihood, or are you placing money into a global company pocket which avoids paying tax? This is another subject I could talk about all day… If I see on seller on a site, I’ll try and Google to see if they have their own website and buy directly. This saves them fees, and will probably save you money in return as sellers on big sites often have to put their prices up.

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY this year is on Saturday 30th November 2019. What if everyone went to an independent shop, market or website and bought even just 1 thing from a small business on this day? Small business owners literally do a happy dance every time they can celebrate a sale (No, I’m not showing you mine!) This returns money to the local economy and will make you & the owner feel good. #winwin.

If you agree with these sentiments, please share this post. If you’re a small business selling a product or service, or have a family member or friend who does, then please provide a link to the website or Social Media page below, and have a browse of what’s posted. You never know who might see it, and maybe they’ve been looking around for exactly what you offer…?

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