Have your cake and eat your candles, too!
At my youngest son’s 12th birthday party, I watched the wax candles killing themselves on the freshly whipped icing. Generic and artificial, these candles didn’t deserve the pedestal upon which they puddled.
I’m trained as an architect, devoted to details, and birthday candles were ripe for revision.
I took classes at Chicago’s French Pastry School and The Chocolate Academy, designed prototypes, engaged consultants, tested wicks. A year later I brought chocolate candles to a friend’s party and another guest requested candles for his grandmother’s 100th birthday. My first sale was wrapped in parchment paper and tucked into a recycled box. Success-ish.
Product development was merely the beginning. I needed packaging, a website, a way to process orders. I took a “food business 101” class, joined an incubator, hired a graphic designer.
The first bakeries I approached were excited about Let Them Eat Candles, and so were their customers. Gradually word spread, boosted by national recognition from Martha Stewart’s American Made contest, and a launch on TheGrommet.com.
Behind the scenes my dad cut wicks, and I did everything from molding to packing to shipping, sourcing, and bookkeeping. It was exciting and gratifying and exhausting and unsustainable.
I found an incredible manufacturing partner, ordered pre-cut wicks, replaced my few dozen silicone molds with a few hundred polycarbonates, and tweaked the product and packaging to work on sophisticated robotic equipment. Making candles was still a labor of love – just not my labor alone!
Based on customer feedback, we introduced single candles in addition to the original 3-packs. We created two styles of countertop displays. Today Let Them Eat Candles can be found at hundreds of stores nationwide, and we’ve got more products in the works.
Thanks for being part of this quiet revolution. The world can never have too many joyful celebrations. May all your delicious wishes come true. Shine on!