Acme Candle Purveyors
April 4, 2018 6:10 AM   Subscribe

My 9 year old daughter has recently showed interest in 'business'. She also loves crafts. I've decided to teach her both by making candles and seeing if we can make a modest profit. I told her we need to come up with a name and a story behind our little venture. What should we call our candle company?

I want to take this candle venture seriously and put some energy into it for the sake of teaching my daughter about business / entrepreneurship. Without overwhelming her with concepts like brand strategy, I would like to teach her how a name and a story could help us be different than other people selling candles. I would love your suggestions on name / brand concepts, but also your take on how to have her arrive at her own vision.

I have thrown out a few styles of names to her, which are along the following lines:

Whimsical & funny - Huckleberry Jones Candle Co.
Luxurious - Sahara
Old Timey - Jason & Sons Apothecary
Description - Kid Candle Co.

I'd love your insight on why you would buy a candle over another, or what you like about candles and then use that lens to help her arrive at a decision on a name / concept. As well, I would like to share some cool names with her and see what she likes. I really just want to give her some stuff to chew on and let her little mind go wild. Please help us brand our humble little kitchen candle enterprise.
posted by jasondigitized to Work & Money (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How about "Sophia & Dad Candle Company"? (Insert daughter's name)
posted by beccaj at 6:14 AM on April 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

The Wickle Candle Company.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:24 AM on April 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Make this brainstorming a part of the exercise: Ask yourselves: who are you selling to? Friends+relatives, classmates, people who pass by on the street, online strangers? What do they value in a candle? Prettines/craftiness, smell, color, what?

If friends and relatives, something like beccaj's suggestion might work. If classmates, something that they'd find cool, maybe fantasy, anime or cartoon related. If random people on the street, what?

You might even have different brands for different markets.

As a datapoint: I'd value craftiness over anything else, and dislike smells.
posted by signal at 6:25 AM on April 4, 2018 [7 favorites]

Kid-Lit Candles
posted by cocoagirl at 6:31 AM on April 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

She's 9? Step away from the candles. You're taking all the fun out of it.

I would let her decide a name without so pressure about branding importance. The name is whatever she wants and the backstory is she wants to create and sell something.

As soon as you make it more than that, she may begin to feel that:

*you are controlling her thing
* an implicit message that she can't do this
* a lack of belief in her


I say this as a parent and a teacher--I have far too many times see a kid think a cool thing and all of a sudden, completely unintentionally, their parent gets involved and the kid is like, "Ugh, now it's your thing. I'm out," and they remember it as a crappy experience.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:33 AM on April 4, 2018 [30 favorites]

We help companies with brand names. I'm gonna take a slightly different take here. I've seen clients get too obsessed with the name and then forget about the product. So, I would recommend getting her started on just making the candles and doing it with business focused questions during the process:

What makes a good candle? What kind of people do we think like to have candles? What do people use candles for? What are different ways candles are made? What materials make sense for us? Do we care about how they are made (because some customers do care about process)? Does she have a preference as to how they smell? How do we integrate smells into a candle product that lasts? What's a safe and responsible way to make candles?

The name may actually come up organically during these conversations.

We run workshops, we suggest names, we provide frameworks and 90% of the time the client ends up sticking with the first name they came up with originally. And that's fine, because they have to love it and engage with it.

Practical points:
- Is it original within the market for the product?
- Is it easy to pronounce and spell?
- Is the .com available for it?

That's about it. You can make any name mean anything. Who would have thought "Acne" could be an uber cool contemporary fashion brand?

I think obsession with product and the customer is the first step towards entrepreneurship.

Start Making Things!
posted by like_neon at 6:41 AM on April 4, 2018 [14 favorites]

It's cool that you want to help, but I agree that there is a lot of danger of this becoming your thing and not hers. She should come up with the name on her own. It should be a name she likes - nothing more. At this age, it's more important that she has a sense of agency about what she's doing. I know you want her to have confidence, and the way to instill that is to let her make her own decisions. If she comes up with a better name later, she can change it.

I would buy a candle because a nine-year-old I knew was making candles and selling them.
posted by FencingGal at 7:34 AM on April 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

Start first with learning how to make enough candles to give away to relatives just to see if she even likes making candles and what the recipients have to say about the candles they receive?

IF she loves it and relatives love the candles and give her feedback she can use, help incorporate the feedback, help her buy a table at the next school/community craft fair. See if she still loves it after that before going on to the next level.

I agree, name is not important, but it is important that if she's into it enough to make it to the craft fair stage, let her come up with the name, however odd or "not-good-branding" it may seem to you.
posted by Gnella at 7:58 AM on April 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Agree with the points from Gnella, FencingGal, and yes I said yes and that's why I framed the question the way I did. I am simply trying to give her some context, food for thought, and a nearly weightless framework for coming up with a brand, however loose that concept is in her mind. She has already been taught proper brainstorming techniques in school, and I just want to start teaching her about concepts like brands, logo, and advertising / promotion as a technique for creating sales / awareness.

If she wants to call it "Ava's Stinky Burn Your House Down Candles" I will support it.

As well, she has already poured a lot of candles and enjoys the process. If she had to pour a 500, that might be a different story and that's why we will start off with the neighborhood / class mates.
posted by jasondigitized at 8:11 AM on April 4, 2018

Ah ok, well here is a simple framework that can help create some context for naming:

- Draw two lines intersecting one another
- On the horizontal line, one one end write one dimension and on the other, the opposing dimension. As an example: Whimsical on the left, Luxurious on the right
- On the vertical, create two more dimensions. Examples: Abstract and Concrete/Real
- Map names along these dimensions.
- Talk about "the space" you want the brand to reside. What does that space look like? What kind of motifs and colors "feel" like that? How does that space "talk" to its customers? These discussions start producing ideas for brand look and feel.

So for example: I would say 'Sahara' sits the quadrant for Luxurious and Real. Does that sound like something she can relate to as a company? What are some symbols that she associates with Sahara and consistent with 'luxurious' and 'real'? How does that affect product design and branding?
posted by like_neon at 8:28 AM on April 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Then maybe start by talking about brands you have around the house rather than what she's going to do with candles. Also, she might enjoy the story of Greasy Kid Stuff. If there are grandparents in the picture, they might remember it. If you Google "Greasy Kid Stuff" with "bottle," you can find pictures of the bottle too.
posted by FencingGal at 8:31 AM on April 4, 2018

I have seen lots of kid crafts on social media where the kid has a higher purpose, like they want to raise money to help a particular cause. If she has something she's interested in, like providing back packs for needy kids, or wants to provide some money to an animal shelter, or wants to donate to an org that plants trees, or wants to raise money so that she buy materials in order to teach other kids to make candles; whatever thing she's interested in would be a great part of her back story, and could help with naming / branding / marketing.

To follow that thought, I have heard that a better way of asking kids what they want to do is to frame it as "what problem do you want to solve", maybe with a little more age-appropriate wording.

The idea of raising a defined amount of money (or, x number of back packs for instance) can help her focus on a goal, without the whole thing becoming an overwhelming, never-ending lifelong project. She could focus on raising $100 for instance, feel good when she accomplishes her goal, and then move on to her next interest. Plus a small and realistic goal keeps you from buying Costco-sized boxes of materials.

We did a craft fair for our 1st grade class earlier this year and it was a tremendous success. The kids had to do just what you're doing - come up with a product, create a display to market it, and decide on pricing. In our example, each kid was allowed to bring one dollar to the craft fair, and at first each kid wanted to charge one dollar per craft so they could *make all the money* so we had to have a discussion about how if you over-price your product people won't buy it because they want to have enough money to buy other things too. But we also had to have a discussion about how you have to cover the cost of your materials. We didn't sit down and have a lecture about it, we brought it up organically over the course of the couple of weeks that we were putting kiddo's crafts together.

From our craft fair experience I will tell you this - kids will buy anything that's got glitter on it. I think it's fair to say that adults like shiny, sparkly things too, so maybe your daughter can add a little flair to her candles in order to attract attention. You can't account for things like color or scent, everyone is different, so daughter should honor her own artistic tastes and just make what she likes.
posted by vignettist at 8:40 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just want to start teaching her about concepts like brands, logo, and advertising / promotion as a technique for creating sales / awareness.

I know but you have to be really careful about looking like you don't trust her instincts and learned skills. What you describe, to a 9 yo, could be interpreted as you don't trust her.

I think it would be cool if you could show her sources for other kid projects or odors? Something that's supportive but in no way indicates you have your own opinion or ideas.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

I’ll throw out another category of possible names - location related. For instance: Mountain Top Candles; Chicago Candle Company; Kitchen Table Kandles. (Only kids can get away with cutesy spellings!)

As far as what I consider when shopping for a candle, I look for frangrance that doesn’t smell cheap, a container that doesn’t clash with my decor, and preferably no parafin or beeswax candles.

I made candles as a preteen, and I wish one of my parents had given me some advice like you’re doing. One of the best summers I ever had was when the other kids were selling lemonade, and my mom said “Instead of selling the same thing as everyone else, why don’t you sell bags of popcorn to go with their lemonade?” I made a fortune, by 1960’s standards. I sold a sandwich baggie full for 10¢, and one day I made over $3! And if you want to know how big an impression my parent’s help made on me, consider that I still remember how much I made, fifty years later.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:34 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

burn like the sun.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:45 AM on April 4, 2018

This is a startup, right?

Obviously it needs to be called Burn Rate.
posted by flabdablet at 1:10 PM on April 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

A favorite saying (my saved image attributes it to Buddha) is: "Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle; and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."

Is she inclined to altruism or a desire for social justice? Does that sound like something she might find inspirational, or lend itself to ideas along those lines?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:23 PM on April 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

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