To celebrate the opening of my virtual store, this afternoon I created a jumbo bacon cheeseburger candle. While my ordinary hamburger candles weigh an average of 13.5 ounces, this production test model weighs in at 18.2 ounces and it’s currently the largest candle that I have ever made.
It smells of hickory smoke, beef, cheese, freshly baked bread, tomatoes, and lettuce. To create a more realistic looking lettuce, I used acrylic paint to provide touch ups to the green wax. A light coating of clear undyed candle gel gave the lettuce a moist appearance.
As with so many of my production test models, I created this candle just to see if I could actually do it. In terms of producing more of these to add to my primary stock in trade candles, I don’t think I’ll do this because creating the candle’s bacon topping and melted cheese appearance was excessively time consuming. I also made the mistake of putting the bacon under the cheese so that it has largely been obscured. If I were to make this over again, I would put the bacon on top of the cheese so that the yellow cheese would highlight the bacon.
In the meanwhile, Tasty-Candles has now been open as a virtual store for a little over 24 hours. Although nobody has purchased any candles, I couldn’t be any happier.
In launching this store, my primary goal was not to make money. My main goal was to expand my stock of candle supplies, tools, and equipment in pursuit of my hobby at a significantly reduced cost via tax write offs. At the start of this project I had 75 candle fragrances, 50 pounds of pillar wax, 1 pound of candle gel, 200 wicks, a handful of silicone molds, a pound of assorted dyes, a half baker’s rack for candle storage, and one stainless steel wire shelving.
Three months and six thousand dollars later, I have used over 150 pounds of soy wax, 5 pounds of medium density candle gel, and some 300 wicks. My workshop currently stocks over 300 candle fragrances, 240 pounds of pillar wax, 30 pounds of medium density candle gel, 800 wicks, over a hundred silicone molds, five pounds of assorted dyes, a full sized baker’s rack, and three wire shelves. I also have a new digital scale, neon candle dye, several packs of assorted paint brushes, five pounds of silicone mix, 30 pounds of beeswax, a container of candle lacquer (which I have not yet used), a new work table, assorted boxes, foam popcorn, packing tape, and a tape gun.
If business hasn’t improved by the end of the next summer, I will have to consider opening another store through Etsy, eBay, or Amazon. While Shop Nevada doesn’t charge a commission for any sales, Etsy has a 5% commission while eBay and Amazon charge 15%. Since Amazon also charges for tax and shipping costs, a $50 burger candle would generate about $34.00. After deducting production costs for the wax, wick, and dyes, this would leave me with $25.36 in profit; an amount that is far below the $40/hour that I wanted to charge for my craftsmanship.
On the flip side, Amazon has over 2.7 billion visitors EACH MONTH as opposed to what is an undoubtedly smaller number who visit Shop Nevada. Given the sheer number of Amazon customers, I could likely increase my candle prices to at least partially offset Amazon’s commission.
In contrast, in 2020 Etsy had 81.9 million active shoppers. While this number is far smaller than Amazon’s business, lower commission fees make Etsy much more attractive. Since all of my candles are handcrafted, my production volume will always be low. I don’t think I need access to a market as large as Amazon’s. Etsy’s market might do quite well.
It’s also possible that Tasty-Candles has yet to be discovered by anyone who visits Shop Nevada. Insofar as my virtual store is only a part-time business and my livelihood is not dependent upon the success of this store, I have the luxury of time to kick back and to wait and see what happens in terms of future sales.
In order to keep my business operational, the IRS requires that I generate a profit for 3 out of 5 years. This first year was already planned as a write off due to outlay and production cost expenses. I will focus on generating a profit starting a year from now in 2022.
If I cannot generate a profit in 3 out of 5 years, the IRS will consider Tasty-Candles to be nothing more than a hobby and my business expenses will be disallowed.