Profiles in Marketing:

I first heard about this company,, a few years ago and have spent much of the time since then trying to think up a business idea that’s even 1/10th as brilliant.

The Tostarud’s, a couple from South Dakota, read Psalm 45 “All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia” and wondered what that smelled like. Recognizing that aloe is commonly used in lotions, myrrh is a kind of dried sap and cassia is related to cinnamon, they decided to make a candle to find out.

A candle that smells like Jesus. A candle that they gave away to friends and began selling. A candle that costs $20 each (originally $18, but the price seems to have gone up in the past year or two). A candle which sold 20,000 units in the first 4 months.

Let’s do the math: Wal-Mart sells a 9lb. bag of tealights for $18, so even at retail prices, candle wax is about $2/lb. The original HisEssence candle comes in a jar and weighs one pound. So, even if the jar, fragrances and label cost $2/unit, the profit amounts to about $14-16 per candle. Times 20,000 units. In the first 4 months.

Frankly, this is probably the most brilliant business idea I have ever heard. Wax doesn’t spoil. The product does not need USDA approval. It’s not targeted toward kids. It’s cheap and easy to manufacture. It makes a great gift. The market for Christian products is enormous. The market for candles is enormous. Put them together, a Christian candle, and hallelujah!

What’s even more brilliant is that there are already Christian candles. Go to the Spanish foods section of your grocery store and look at the bottom shelf. There will probably be some votive candles there in jars with different saints painted on them. But the people who make them didn’t think to charge $20 each.

There are already cinnamon-aloe and pine-scented, cinnamon-apple, blueberry pie and a billion other kinds of scented candles. But no one though to call any of them ‘the candle that smells like Jesus’.

HisEssence set up a website, got a toll-free number (877-PSALM45) and expanded their line into pillar candles, candle holders and so on. (I vaguely remember HisEssence hand lotion and maybe incense and some other products once listed at their site, but maybe they have been discontinued.)

I’ve been trying ever since I heard about them to think of two enormous markets which could be served by one simple product, like HisEssence has, and still have not thought of anything even a fraction as brilliant.


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