Unprecedented times, amirite?
Earlier this spring, when things were feeling hopeful, we were looking at retail spaces, but we're making a strategic pivot and investing in materials instead. Why? The supply chain is a fucking mess. And if we don't have materials, we don't have candles. It sure would suck to have a retail space with no candles to sell in it.
Every small business you know is affected by the supply chain, us included. We couldn't have started a candle company at a worse time, really. When we started messing around with wax last year as a hobby, we didn't know what we didn't know. When people asked to buy candles for their loved ones for the holidays, we was flattered and delighted, but all those warm and fuzzy feels were quickly replaced by panic because the materials we use were out of stock everywhere. When people fall in love with your finished product, even if it's a minimum viable product, like ours was last year, you don't change it up.
Here's what the supply chain looks like for us, if you're interested in a really deep BTS:
Last year, we placed a wax order the day after Thanksgiving that didn't arrive until mid-January. As per the distributor's website, orders usually ship within 7-9 business days. The distributor (who had my money, leaving this self-funded business pretty cash-strapped) wasn't answering emails. When I did receive the wax, on January 12th, it was 240lbs of the wrong kind.
A year later, we're planning for holiday and we won't be out of stock unless Oprah herself tweets about our candles. (Oprah, if you're reading this, we are totally open to this possibility!) Ideally, we'll have enough wax to get through the holidays and maybe even Valentine's Day. A literal pallet is on the way. To our home. I have no idea where we're going to put it, but that's a problem for Later Me to solve.
This one keeps me up at night. This is the reasons I take the maximum recommended number of TUMS (not sponsored, but open to it) per day. Ceramic containers and most glassware comes from China. The ports are a hot mess right now. Things get stuck in customs/the port for weeks - sometimes months - longer than anticipated. We scored a pallet of jars from a distributor in the US, which is a huge win. When we rebrand, we will be switching the containers your candles come in so we can:
A- reduce our costs. The ceramic jars are lovely. We know you love them. However, they are super expensive and heavy, which makes them expensive to ship AND buy. A double-whammy.
B- ensure we can get containers from multiple sources. The ceramic jars you love are available from one (1) distributor, which is terrifying.
We use fragrance oils in our candles. They're man-made. Surely these will be in stock everywhere, forever, right? Wrong.
I don't want to jinx it, but we've had zero issues acquiring our FSC certified wicks thus far. Hallelujah.
We know you are hoping for retail space and wholesale distribution so you can sniff before you buy and we want to give that to you so badly, but this year is not the right time. We ARE working on our pop-up calendar for the remainder of the year. We have been incredibly fortunate to have incredible businesses in Kansas City (KC Wineworks, Coco Brookside, and more) let us pop-up in their spaces and we're excited for more of that this holiday season.
If you know of a local business that would be a great fit for a Gifts By Birdie pop-up, drop us a line.