In our Nifty 50 spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Eli Ratner, owner of Bella Candle Factory. Bella Candle Factory sells handmade dessert candles, is based in Brooklyn, New York, and has been in business for three years.
Robin: Why did you decide to start this business? Why this business and not a different one?
Eli: I decided to start this business because of my passion for baking and candles. I decided to combine it into one and create a winning product. Our candles look like a real dessert but there’s not an option to eat all the calories.
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
E: A few years ago I was on vacation visiting my sister in Florida. I was in the kitchen making a dessert for dinner, and I remember she had some candles in the kitchen.
I decided to melt the candle in the microwave and then poured it into a mold that was there. I remember that it was the shape of the waffle, I took her mold and bought wax, and tried to make some candle waffles from scratch.
They ended up looking really cool. I really liked the idea that I could make a dessert that did not have to be eaten, so I decided to make a business out of it.
Since then, I have developed my own methods of preparing candles. I’ve tried all types of wax, scents, and colors, until I reached the results I produce today. And I’m still getting better all the time!
R: How do you make your product? Yourself? A manufacturer? What’s your process like?
E: We create all our products by ourselves. We start with melting the wax, the rest is secret.
R: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
E: I bought wax, and a few other related products for candle making. The initial supplies cost me less than $1,000, the rest was from sales revenue. I started to sell really fast.
R: Where was the first place you sold your product?
E: Our first sales were at weddings as souvenirs for guests.
R: How did you build from selling at weddings to getting into multiple retail locations?
E: Most of my work was for weddings, doing candles in custom designs, and one day a guy called me. He owned an online gift site and made gift sets for different occasions. I made dessert candles for him, and I remember he made several large orders and I liked the idea of selling large orders online. I wanted to work with other places besides who I knew.
So we started to make actions, we made a lot of Facebook posts on many groups and the response was really good for us. People started ordering, and after that, we started selling at well known retail sites. People started contacting me saying they wanted to sell our products at their business, and that’s how I discovered the wholesale world for retailers, and today we are here at Abound.
R: Where do you sell your product now?
E: Boutique shops all around the US, our website and few retail sites.
R: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
E: I’d love to open a Bella Candle Factory brick and mortar shop, it would be a factory show for candle desserts.
R: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with Bella Candle Factory?
E: The first order I sold online arrived broken! I had to put serious thought into how to pack effectively and still leave the product elegantly packaged safe. Today we are packaging pro’s.
R: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with Bella Candle Factory?
E: My biggest achievement is that we have 130 different designs and we’re still creating more!
R: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
E: Well, if you’re selling dessert candles, I’d recommend leaving a note in the packaging telling customers not to eat them. That one’s from personal experience.
R: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
E: If you like to do something, make a business from it!
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
That I have complete control of my time and that I was able to turn a creative idea into money.