Today I'm going to recount the drama of when we released the beeswax candles last winter.
Let's rewind time to the seventeenth of February 2023.
We planned to launch our candles the following Friday.
At our disposal we had a small barrel of melted beeswax, as well as two boards with wicks tied around them. By hand dipping them, on a good day we produced 16 candles an hour…on a good day 100 candles, if all three in the factory helped.
A couple of days before the release day, we had a big meeting with the team about which campaign we should run. We decided to give away a free 3-pack if you bought at least 6 candles.
After a slow start to the year, we really needed this to go well. Both for the feeling in the team, but also for the wallet. This couldn't go wrong!
The big day had come. I myself was at the office already at 06.30 in the morning to read through the newsletter one more time before it went out.
The newsletter itself is always just as annoying to send off. Basically our entire following gets it right at the same time, and when it's sent, it's sent. Then it cannot be taken back.
If you have spelled it wrong or expressed yourself a little crazy, there are immediately hundreds of people who are careful to inform us about it. No room for error, quite simply.
Nervous as ever, I clicked the “send” button, then went to the kitchen to drink some coffee while waiting for the rest of the team to arrive. It was still only 7 o'clock.
Long story short: In terms of sales, it was our best day ever. 193 orders on the first day. Wow!!
That record didn't last long as we already received 215 orders that same Sunday. Oh my God. It really was a super hit!
It was fun and exciting until we started thinking about the production. Even if we worked around the clock, it would take weeks to produce enough. 100 candles a day wouldn't get us far, and everyone couldn't focus on producing candles. We have beeswax cloths and fire starters to make, orders to pack, etc... How do we do it?
A crazy idea
We started thinking about buying a couple of barrels extra, so that more candles could be poured at the same time. It had helped, but it hadn't solved the fundamental problem.
Our candles were immensely popular, and with this method we would be doomed to forever "catch up".
Problems like these are like oxygen to Sebastian, and he immediately started sketching different solutions. That same afternoon, I sat in the office and rummaged through the reviews and emails that started coming in. Sebastian stormed in.
"I'm going to build a machine," he said.
I looked up from my desk skeptically. Before I could answer, he had drawn on the back of a receipt how it could work.
"An automatic motor will lift up and down a large holder for 80 candles," he said. "For that we need a large vat of beeswax and a strong motor."
A battle against the clock
Sebastian called around to all the welders on Gotland, but all were fully booked for weeks to come.
Inside Sweprod (the factory next to us) their technician Alex is working as usual. We explained the situation to him, and told him that he is the only one we know who has the skills to weld the tub together.
He explains that he has a lot of pucks to catch at work and with the family.
"Now is not the time," he said.
So we took him aside, and asked him for the shittiest thing ever.
“Can you weld it together tonight?” we asked. He understood the seriousness of all orders and sacrificed the night and the energy for the next working day.
Sebastian flew off to the hardware store to buy the raw material. By looking through the back of the factory, we found some boards and other things that could be used for the rest of the construction.
We are not trained technicians and therefore have limited authority in what we can carry out ourselves, but understand how it works, so we gave Alex a simple drawing of how it could work, and he came back with a perfect road map, as well as a shopping list.
As with everything else, it's never as easy as you think, and it took several tries to get anywhere. Progress was made, but hours turned into days, and the orders kept coming in, with nothing being shipped.
Sebastian and Nalle (one of our employees) built everything together. But the engine, which everything revolves around, turned out to be of a different model than what we thought when we made the drawing. Alex couldn't help more because of work, so Sebastian and Winnie had to stand and think for themselves, only with their limited knowledge. Another technician looked at the model but said the whole idea would not be feasible. He meant that it was simply done.
For several days, Winnie the Pooh and Sebastian stood and tried to figure it out.
Days turned into weeks, and quite a few customers were getting a little disappointed with their missing orders. Some of them were told a number of times that everything would be shipped "within a couple of days", but with more unexpected problems knocking on the door, we unfortunately couldn't keep that promise.
Finally the whole gang gave up. It was a somber mood in the factory when we packed up at 11:30pm that day, about 3 weeks after our release. A last glance was read over the mountain of parcels that still hadn't left. The only option left was to go home to think of a new idea.
The next morning we woke up to a text from Nalle. He wrote that we must come in as soon as possible, as he has something to show. We were there at 08.00, and were greeted by a big smile on Nalle's lips. It turned out he had been there since 6am video chatting with his Sri Lankan best friend. Together they had managed to solve the technical problem with the engine.
All of a sudden we had a working machine and it was just a matter of starting production. Sebastian pulled an all nighter, beating a personal best in waking hours without sleep in 36 hours. Thanks to that, we managed to get 1000 candles, and were thus able to pack a couple of weeks' worth of orders in a couple of days.
Now the production of light flows on, and we entertain ourselves with other adventures. Teddy got a couple of days off as thanks for solving the puck.
If you want to try our beeswax candles yourself, click here