Hi, candle-loving friends! I like to put out a survey at the end of every year regarding the shop, boxes, and anything in between and I’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments lately about the exclusive candle boxes that I put out, so I wanted to take the time to address some of those comments as well as maybe share a bit more about what I do with them!
So first and foremost, I had to decide exactly what I wanted to do with my candle box. Did I want to include items from other artists or only myself? Did I want to include bigger candles or have fewer/smaller candles and add more items? Ultimately what I decided is that I wanted to have a strong candle focus and have other items be more of a bonus, and I wanted to make my box my own without worrying what other companies might be doing, trying not to compare myself. Other companies have candle boxes as well, but I wanted my box to be a little bit different, and I think that’s a really important thing to remember because I often get questions of why I’m not including larger and different items. My set-up here is just a little bit different and I think that’s a good thing! I love seeing what other companies can and are doing and I like to do something a little bit different so we’re not all doing the same thing, too.
Some other candle boxes have a more subscription box-type feel or are able to include large items, working with several artists and shops, which enables them to add some new and different things, and to be perfectly honest, I can tell that they just have a bigger budget than I do or have more sales than I do — I’m not ashamed to admit that. For most companies from which you purchase custom items, the more you buy, the better deal you get, the bigger items you’re able to include. Sometimes my boxes sell really well and I’m able to do a restock and get even more to you. Other times, as with any business I’m sure, they don’t do as well as I expect and I have a lot of items leftover and there goes all of my profit from that box. I have to keep my initial quantities small to ensure that I’m selling out or coming close to it so I can maintain the costs of these boxes to keep them worth it so I can keep creating them for you!
When I set out to create this box, I wanted to make something that was mainly focused on the candles, so I chose to include a full 9oz jar, two 4oz jars, and two 2oz jars. Those alone at retail value are worth $36, which is more than the cost of the box (which is $35). I also knew that I wanted to create the designs myself! This helps me a little bit because I put my own “sweat equity” into the box, meaning I put a LOT of time and effort into these designs that I don’t pay myself for, really. It costs more to work with an outside company/designer/shop because you’re paying for their product and of course, compensating them for their time and labor! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE collaborating with other shops and I fully support all of those amazing artists! But again, it’s something that helps me keep the cost of the box down so I don’t have to charge $45 or $50 for each box and I can try to keep it as affordable as possible. I’m hoping as the box grows, that allows me opportunities to collaborate sometimes too!
I’ve always added in extra goodies to make the box more worthwhile and add more value to it as well. It started out with just some bookmark and print designs, moving towards stickers and magnets. I’ve tried out a few items here and there (tote bags, notebooks) but the popular choices now seem to be geared toward enamel pins and woodmarks, so you’ll likely see those more often alongside with the traditional bookmarks and prints. The “paper items” are so common because they’re one of the easiest things for me to get processed, easy to buy in bulk and have a short turnaround time for processing and for possible restocks.
There are a lot of things that go into the decision of what to include in the box and one of those things is also availability. I’ve included a couple tote bags in the past, from a fairly big company, and when I went to go reorder, they didn’t have that style anymore so I had to choose something else. Then there’s keeping in mind that choosing a different color costs more, adding in more colors to the design costs more, so sometimes the designs are easy and concise! I included a notebook in the Autopsies & Enigmas box (for Stalking Jack the Ripper), and I was so excited to do a restock for it, but within a matter of weeks, they were out of the color I originally ordered and then I was forced to choose a different color, meaning that whole restock had a different color notebook and wouldn’t match the original. The more I work with companies, even bigger brands, the more I learn who is reliable and who I may not be able to work with again due to supply issues, so that’s also something that factors into these decisions. I stick with my paper items a lot because I know that they’ll never run out of paper for prints and bookmarks, etc. They don’t have to keep a stock of a particular item in order to customize it so I like having that reliable source, always.
There’s also the question of minimums when I order. I’ve wanted to include post-it notes in a box but so far all of the companies have a minimum that I can’t meet at the moment based on how many boxes I sell. Sometimes I can meet a minimum, sometimes I order more than I need so I CAN meet a minimum, other times I know I can’t sell that much so I have to choose a different item.
And then there’s just the question of “Will someone use this?” I personally consider every item I include and I try to make those items useful. I try to choose items of worth and value, so it’s not just some cheap piece to fill in a space and look fancy when people might not ever use it (and that’s not a stab at ANY other company — those are my actual thoughts when I’m looking through collections of customizable items when considering what else I could possibly include that’s different. They have tons of options but I don’t want to give you something you won’t use or don’t want). Bookmarks and prints are things that people use in Instagram photos, use as actual bookmarks, put up for display, etc. Magnets can go on a fridge, stickers can be used or displayed, enamel pins are all the rage now, etc. There are a lot of items I’ve considered but they weren’t something that I would personally want. Trust me, I’ve looked into things like blankets, scarves, etc — but anything I can find at the moment to customize much less get blank costs at least a few dollars, which would drive up the cost of the box and I know we don’t want that!
And then there’s just the time and effort it takes to go looking for these items from several different companies, noting how much each costs and how many boxes I think I can sell. I’m already making all of these products, doing all of the designs, and still want to be present at home and not working all the time. That research cuts into my home time and my designing time so sometimes I just don’t have the time to go looking for a new item to include in a box. When you’re a team of one, you have to do everything yourself, which I enjoy but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s time consuming. Also keep in mind that I make, label, and wrap all of these candles and pack every single item myself, so sometimes that takes several days in itself. Again, not a complaint, but something I need to keep considering as the audience of the box grows and adjust how long things will take me to source, package, and make! A lot of people assume I’m a company of many people but so far, it’s just me!
Then I’m taken back to the mindset that I did firstly want this box to be about candles. I’m a candle company. I produce only candles, aside from the items that I’m including the boxes, and that’s what I want the focus to be. Working so hard to add other items to the box takes away from what I wanted the main focus to be. I’ll admit, I’m so jealous of how incredible some of these other boxes look but also, that’s just not me. Maybe someday I’ll do some awesome collaborations, but for now I’m REALLY happy and excited with the designs that I’ve been coming up with lately. Every single piece you get in a Novelly Yours candle box was all designed by me, and I think that’s pretty cool.
What I think is really neat is that each company makes each box their own, no matter if it’s a “regular” subscription box with a book and other merchandise or a candle box that includes other items. I like that my box fits me and my company and I like that it’s different. It provides something different by having more of a candle focus. There are a lot of customers who don’t want the stuff or don’t care about stuff and are focused more on the candles and by having smaller or “paper” items, it’s easier to eliminate or lessen the feeling that you’re spending money on items you won’t use. I have considered making a “candle only” option without the goodies, but for now that would be too hard to gauge and separate, so things will stay the way they are.
AND I will always tell you the TYPES of items you’re getting. You’ll always receive one 9oz jar, two 4oz jars, and two 2oz jars. It’s almost always a double-sided print and two double-sided bookmarks. I’ve been working on including an enamel pin in every box since those have been really popular lately. Usually it’s almost always a magnet and a sticker, sometimes a button, sometimes other items. That’s pretty much for the formula for the box.
Because of costs and concerns, I may switch to lengthening the pre-order time so I know exactly what to order before shipping. I’ve tried to keep the wait time as short as possible but I also have to consider how I’m spending money as a business so I may need to know exact final numbers this year before shipping the boxes. As always, I will always keep you updated!
I just wanted to share a little bit more insight of how I create these boxes and all of the ins and outs behind them! It takes a lot of time and other companies have teams that are able to do all of these things whereas I’m only one person, so it does limit what I can do sometimes time-wise. It’s not a negative thing or a bad thing — this is exactly how I want to organize these boxes at the moment, and maybe there’s something else to do down the road, but for now, this is exactly what to expect from the Novelly Yours exclusive candle box! Thank you to everyone who has purchased and supported this box and keeps making it possible! And truly, thank you for taking the time to read this post. I always want to be as clear as possible and the business side is even more complicated than I thought it would be sometimes, so I think it’s nice to share that sort of transparency so you know what I’m working through to make these boxes happen as well!