8 Steps to Launch: My process for developing a new handmade product

8 Steps to Launch: My process for developing a new handmade product

Last week, I made a post on Instagram listing all the steps that I take to add a new handmade product to the shop. I didn’t go into detail because it was FAR too much for a post, however we ARE diving into it now!
 

Research

Whenever I think about adding a new product, I like to make sure that my brain fully understands the way that it needs to be made. I look up the manufacturer’s instructions for all components (wax, fragrance oil, etc.), check to see if there are any additional items needed to make the product perform (for candles, this would be wicks), and try to find some really attractive packaging for it. Because it’s gotta be cute, right?

Price

Price is on here twice for a reason. I want to make sure before I make sure, if that makes sense. I calculate how much it would cost me to make the product and then what price point it would need to be at for me to offer it comfortably. Like I said in last week’s post, most of the things that I thought about making don’t make it past this point. Why? Let’s look at tealight candles as an example. Since I work in ounces, I will provide the cost of the wax per ounce in this as well.
  • 45 lbs of wax – $104.08 or 14 cents per ounce
  • 100 tealight cups – $8.56 (each cup holds 0.5 ounces of wax)
  • 100 wicks $6.12
  • 120 wick stickers – $6.12
  • Shipping – $68.85
With these numbers (and yes, they are actual numbers), each unscented tealight candle would cost 33 cents to make. Sounds fine, until we realize that’s what I need to break even, and it doesn’t include what it would cost me to ship it out.
There’s a formula that I found a while back and I use it to price my products fairly. I think that when people say things like “Well, I can go to B&BW to get a candle for cheaper,” they don’t consider that a machine makes those candles. Part of that formula includes the time that it takes me to make these items. And since I’m human, I can only do so much and there’s NO WAY I’m mass-producing thousands of candles a day. Just thinking about that makes me want a nap.
With the formula, that includes room for profit and paying myself, we’d be looking at $1.32 per tealight. Which again, sounds good, but I’m not shipping ONE. If I were to offer a pack of 6, that’d be just under $8 a package.
For six UNSCENTED tealights.
And I hate it.
If you look on THAT marketplace’s site (you know, the one that starts with an E), you’ll see that roughly $10 for 6 handmade tealights isn’t abnormal. However, I taught myself a long time ago that looking at that site will either make you feel like you’re under-charging or over-charging, which leads to me having a meltdown. So I stopped looking at them and started listening to myself.
I don’t WANT to charge $8 or even $10 for six unscented tealights. And until l can find a way to bring that price down, I likely won’t offer them.
 

Materials

At this point, if I’m okay with going forward with the product, I take another look at materials. I go to a few different suppliers and try to find the one I can get EVERYTHING at instead of getting cheaper ones from multiple suppliers and end up negating that “savings” with shipping from more than one place. With the new round of candles, the bubble wrap I had on hand wasn’t wide enough to cover the jars, so I switched to honeycomb packaging paper.

Testing

THE FUN PART! (slight sarcasm) This is where I take all of my notes that I made in step one and try it out. These notes come from my personal experience, what other chandlers have suggested and manufacturers suggestions. I’m fortunate to have gotten things right on the first or second try now. When I started this company? That was not the case. I test for scent throw (if applicable), performance, and burn time. Scent throw is how far the scent travels started at about 30 minutes after lighting/melting. Performance is to make sure that, if it’s a candle, it burns evenly and not too fast. For burn time, I weight the candle before I light and after I blow it out (about 3 hours). I then do some math to figure out the burn time if burned at the suggested time with a ¼” wick.

Packaging

This mainly applies to wax melts, since I must have the packaging of candles figured out in step 3. I try to find not only the best-looking packaging, but one that is mostly eco-friendly, but easy for me to work with as well. The bags that I used to use were NOT ideal. I’d have to pour the wax into molds, let it sit for a day, then transfer it over to the bags. With the new packaging, the wax goes straight into the trays. When they’ve cooled, I box it up and label it. That’s it!

Price (again)

This part varies slightly from the second step. Now, I have to include the price of the packaging I chose and how much it would cost to ship (I package it like I’m about to ship it, with packing peanuts and everything). This is the part where I set the final price and the shipping and it’s always super scary. But, we move.

Pictures

I like to have a good group of pictures ready to go for marketing purposes and to put the item on the site. I really should’ve labeled this marketing, because I spend a lot of time coming up with the vibe for the launch, picking what I think is a good launch date, and writing descriptions on the website. Because you can’t smell candles over the internet.
 
 

Release

After all the previous seven steps are done, everything is ready to order! Candles are made in batches of 6 per scent, while the wax melts are made in batches of 4 per scent.
 
There are a few more products that I’m still thinking about adding, but I’m still on the research phase. I know quite a few of you have expressed interest in diffusers, which I have been looking into off and on, but when I make a new handmade product, I want to make sure I do it right. And while I don’t have the physical space to add more products right now, I’m hoping that will change in the near future.
So for now, I will continue to provide 8oz candles, 12oz candles, and wax melts!
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