FMM (Fragrances for your Mind & Mood) was brewed up by JMU Business Majors and Entrepreneurs Jay Green, Mike Mikhail, and Collin Mitchell. We started with the idea to sell custom painted mason jars that would fulfill various daily uses for people (soap dispensers, coin collecters, candle containers, storage jars etc). Upon designing the first MVP, we found that our process was inconsistent and the product lacked unique value for the customer. Looking towards alternative options for mason jars, we came up with the idea to produce homemade candles.
Our IdeaEditSeeing how our first idea was undeveloped and we were still looking for that product that would solve a consumer problem, we decided to run with the idea to make candles. We started thinking of ways we could differentiate our business from other candle manufacturers like Yankee Candle Co. The idea arose to make candles in which the fragrances help to affect or alter people's moods. Our primary value proposition became to improve one's psychological and physical well-being by providing quality and homemade aromotherapy candles. The majority of our products will be intended to help either aid or alleviate specific moods, emotions, and attitudes.
While candles are increasing in popularity with many companies such as Yankee Candles dominating a large portion of the market, we are setting ourselves apart by creating smaller more custom candles. This way, the candles will be more reasonably priced for our target market. Upon asking many people, they felt a candle of the size we offered should be priced between the $7-$15 dollar range. We asked about why types of candles students would buy, whether they buy candles on their own or not, amongst other questions. From the data gathered, we have a general description of our target market:
- People who are: stressed, need energy, need relaxation in their lives, need help studying/focusing
- Gift givers
- People who like clean smelling houses
- JMU students-more towards females
Creating the ProductEditWe initially bought supplies locally at Michael's arts and crafts stores. We found that Michael's was limited on candle making supplies and the supplies were costing too much and digging into our margins. After creating the first batch of candles using supplies from Michael's, we looked online to find a wholesale candle manufacturer called Lone Star Candle Co. This supplier fit the right cost structure and had a large variety of scents and products that would make our processes easier. We got together multiple times to decide which psychological/mood benefits we should pursue that would also be fitting towards our market of college students. We created a survey that gave a list of five popular fragrances that would be for each type of candle. Building upon that, we went around campus with our initial MVP and asked students which scents they like as well as if they prefer layered or non-layered candles. The layered candles seemed to get great feedback from students, as they were both colorful, attractive, and explored the opportunity for multiple scents in a candle. After gathering this data for customer discovery, we decided upon these candles for our first large batch of production: Ease: Vanilla Bean, Honeycomb
Focus/Concentration: Mango Mandarin, Eucalyptus
Energy/Motivation: Pink Grapefruit, Peppermint
Stress Relief: Lavender, Chamomile
Relaxation: Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrhh
We found how to actually make the candles through YouTube videos and tutorials online. Fortunately, the process turned out to be very simple with only a few steps leading to the final product.
Step 1: Secure the wick base to the bottom of the mason jar using a non-toxic glass adhesive.
Step 2: Set up a double boil on your stove so that the bottom pot is boiling water and the other pot is empty inside.
Step 3: Cut the wax block into smaller pieces, and put the wax in the empty pot on the stove.
Step 4: Once the wax is melted, add increasing amounts of color for the layered candles. Add fragrances right before pouring the wax into the jars.
Step 5: Pour the wax into the mason jars, and let each layer solidify before pouring the next.
ObstaclesEditThe first obstacle our group came across was to get a solid idea for a product. The first month of class when we were brainstorming, we would be asking ourselves "Is this is a good product to make?". The answer usually came to "We would not make any money through our margins", "No, nobody would buy that", or "How would we even begin making something like that." It was extremely difficult to find a product that would satisfy these problems, and to have a product we would also enjoy making.
The second and most important obstacle is time. Being on such a limited time frame with generating an idea, multiple iterations, production, and sales, this business venture comes down to a few months of hard and compressed effort.
- Brainstorm early. You'll get the syllabus before the semester starts, and it will tell you to do the same thing. You don't have to think up something revolutionary. Think of many ideas, that way when you form a group you can decide which ideas are feasible, then you can decide which ideas to actually pursue. If all group members took the time to brainstorm prior to the semester, your group will be at a severe advantage.
- Do something that you love. You cannot sell a product that you would not be interested in buying yourself. You have to show passion and energy when you're trying to market and sell your product.
- Buy locally if you can, but buy where you are getting the largest profit margins. We made the mistake of buying locally at first to simply get a MVP made. It cost us a large portion of our overall expenses. Do your research and take the time if necessary for delivery for online products.
- Manage your time wisely. There are many deliverables due over the course of the semester. Delegate tasks and get things done early. You'll be better off, and will have more time to market and sell your product.