Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Candles that Burn in Circles, Stores, and a Holiday Visit

It took my son-in-law and me about a minute to start talking shop this weekend. He and #2 daughter were 'home for the holidays.' Happily, both she and my wife understand and tolerate their husbands.

Folks at Spiral Light Candle have been keeping up with orders during the holiday season, but it's been a scramble. Still, that's a good sort of 'problem' to have.

Customers at Artistic Treasures (13625 Quinn Street NW, Andover, Minnesota) offered to help unpack the store's shipment of candles: and bought out their supply of Spiral Light's products. Artistic Treasures reordered, had a similar experience with the second shipment: and ordered a third time before the week's end.

Artistic Treasures is on the north side of Minnesota's Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. You can stop in to see if they've still got our candles in stock. Or, not. Your choice:

View Larger Map

I've known folks to organize shopping excursions specifically to pick up Spiral Light Candles: but that's not necessary, now that we've got a pretty good online store.

On the other hand, there's nothing quite like visiting a store in person: which is why I keep updating Spiral Light Candle's Find a Retailer page:

My son-in-law's 'candle that burns in a circle' has come a long way in the last year.

"Spiral Light's Spiral Burning Self Filling Candle - YouTube.flv"

SpiralLightCandle, YouTube (January 9, 2012)
video 1:31

Related posts:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Candles, a Store Locator, and Online Shopping

I entered the location of more stores in Spiral Light Candle's store locator database a few minutes ago. Data entry isn't my favorite task: but it's a family business, I'm part of the family, and it's one way I can help.

I like small businesses, and think it makes sense to shop locally. So, if you're looking for candles and in Mayville or Hillsboro, North Dakota: stop in at the Mayville Cenex, Sapphire's, or Dale's Food Pride. They sell Spiral Light Candles ( a new, unique, candle.

However, quite a few people don't live in Mayville, or Hillsboro, or anywhere else in Traill County, North Dakota.

Folks could make a special trip to Hillsboro, just to get those 'candles with a twist.' Hillsboro is between Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota: and some have.

It's probably easier to find a nearby shop on Spiral Light Candle's Find a Retailer page:

Spiral Light Candle has a pretty good online store, too.

Vaguely-related posts:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sometimes 'Business' and 'Social' Mix Online: Sometimes They Don't

Most of the time, I don't need - or want - to keep my 'business' and 'social' online activity separate. My work is writing, mostly about topics that come up in the social media communities I'm in. There's a lot of overlap, in that situation, between 'business' and 'social.'

Most folks aren't in my position. I ran into a post on Google+ That read, in part:

"I like Google Plus a great deal...

"...I don't really want to go to Google and search for exchange queue overloaded and see the bouncing red number in the upper right begging me to read and comment on some social activity...."
(Jeff Stevens)
Within an hour, a specific, practical, suggestion showed up in the comments. You may find it useful: or, not.

Now, an obligatory plug for Spiral Light Candle ( I'm helping at the factory this week, and stuck around after hours to do some catch-up work.

Somewhat-related posts:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Social Marketing: Tech Changes; People, Not So Much

With two decades of experience in marketing, I can safely say: I'm not an expert.

I'm some guy who writes fairly well, understands how language works, and knows better than to overstate something's value. Or, in this case, someone's.

Expert My Opinions About Marketing and Social Media

I've read articles and heard folks complain about teenagers' lack of connection with each other: how they never have 'real' conversations. 'The youth,' anguished authors assured readers, would never learn to deal with the real world: because their social contacts were mostly conducted through a sterile, artificial technology.

This was the '60s: and the terrifying tech was the telephone.

Today, it's chat rooms, blogs, and whatever the latest wrinkle in social media is called.

The point, for someone who wants to use social media as a marketing tool, is that 'social media' is like the air in a room, or ink on paper, or a telephone line. It's the medium people use to communicate with each other. Media have changed: quite a bit, in the last half-century.

People using media? I haven't noticed all that much difference.

Sure, there's some change:
  • Clothing worn to important meetings
    • Togas Powdered wigs are out
    • Business suits are in
      • Or 'business casual
  • Hiring practices
      'Irish need not apply' is out
    • Hiring based on competence is in
      • Theoretically, at least
But people; what they like, and don't like; and how they react: that, in my experience, hasn't changed. Not the essentials.

Here's an ultra-condensed set of guidelines for successful marketing with social media that I ran into a few years back:
  1. Make it personal
  2. Keep it real
  3. Don't be afraid of opinion
  4. Focus on interactions, not followers and fans
  5. Keep the distribution of traditional marketing messages to a minimum
    (from Patricio Robles)
    (micro-reviewed May 29, 2010)
I think all five are common-sense guides for interacting with folks in any setting. Even the fourth point, that discussed "followers" and "fans" in the context of social media, reminded me of an gag: about some fabulously 'popular' VIP/diva/whatever, who invited "a few hundred of her close personal friends."

Back to Work - - -

I ran across my micro-review of Patricio Robles' article while doing re-educating myself about online marketing. I was modestly up to speed with current technology: six years ago.

Back then we only had wood-burning computers, so I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Related posts:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Spiral Light Candles: Snapshots from a Texas Trade Show

I am definitely not a 40-year-old kid any more. It's about 1:00 a.m., I've been talking with my son-in-law, Aaron McWilliams, and two snapshots from a trade show he's at are now ready for posting. For some reason, I have this urge to close my eyes and relax - 'just for a minute.'

Aaron has been in Texas, letting more folks know about the candles he invented: and the company he and his wife have been developing. Along with quite a few other folks. I'm not sure that Spiral Light Candle Corporation is quite what most folks think of as a "small business" any more.

Anyway, I said I'd post the snapshots Aaron sent, so I'd better do that. While I'm still sort-of-awake.

Bright lights, and folks looking at Spiral Light Candle products in Texas. June 2012.

Aaron McWilliams and candles. Lots of candles. His kind of candles. The Spiral Light kind. June 2012.

Spiral Light Candle Corp. launched their online store recently, which is nice for folks in places where 'the candle with a twist' isn't on a local retailer's shelf. Yet. You can check for retailers in your area on the website, too:

I think that's it. Let me check: Texas; candles; photos; son-in-law Aaron McWilliams; how to find the candles. Right. That's what I planned, that's done: and now I'm getting some sleep.

Related posts:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Good Candles and Good Neighbors in North Dakota

That's Aaron McWilliams, CEO of Spiral Light Candle. He's also my son-in-law. Conventional wisdom, in some circles, is that doing business with relatives is a bad idea. Sometimes that's true: sometimes not. (September 12, 2011, June 5, 2007) In our case, it's been working out just fine.

'Look Who's in the Paper!'

Friday's Grand Forks Herald ran a longish story of Spiral Light Candle and the man (and woman) behind the candle. I've clipped some excerpts, and will sound off at intervals:
" A new kind of candle goes into production in Hillsboro, N.D."
Grand Forks Herald (June 15, 2012)

"A candle in a wine bottle sparked a business that took one couple from their farmhouse kitchen to a 10,000-square-foot factory here in less than a year.

"Observing the uncontrolled wax flow, Aaron McWilliams, 28, and his wife Sara decided they wanted to create a candle with a new kind of wax flow where the dripping wax can be reused to stretch the burn time.

"When the couple started making the candles in February 2011, they said it took three to four hours to make just one. Today, Spiral Light Candle Corp. churns out 400 candles a day at its new factory, a former potato warehouse the couple purchased in January...."
(Grand Forks Herald)
I walked through that old potato warehouse with Mr. McWilliams during purchasing decision-making: and it didn't look anywhere near as move-in-ready as it did in this photo:

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section: during construction. December 31, 2011.

On the other hand, the bones of the building looked solid: and some fellows who actually know something about construction said that it was in good shape.

By Next Year - - -

"...By next year, the company's seven employees — including the McWilliamses — hope to produce more than 1,200 candles a day, using 7,500 pounds of wax a week. They anticipate hiring 14 or more workers by Christmas and also plan a gift store at the front of the factory....
(Grand Forks Herald)
Spiral Light Candle products are already being sold in quite a few stores. The "Find a Retailer" page on on the company's website shows a fairly heavy concentration in the upper Midwest, but folks elsewhere are finding out about "the candle with a twist," so that's changing.

The company's online store opened yesterday afternoon:

Running Out of Room

"...After repeated attempts, they [Aaron and Sara McWilliams] developed a process to coat the inside of the candle without using molds. Aaron McWilliams made his own equipment, using parts from home improvement stores, then did some research and contacted a fabricator in Minnesota to help design full-scale models....
(Grand Forks Herald)
That's when it started getting interesting. Making a candle or two in the kitchen every day wouldn't keep up with demand:
"...Once they started selling the candles, they rapidly expanded their kitchen factory into the basement and then the garage with some funding from family...."
(Grand Forks Herald)

Planning: Lots of Planning

Aaron McWilliams and I spent an intense 10 days or so, around the first of December, 2011, 'crunching the numbers.' (December 3, 2011) He has the business experience, and knows the math: I've got technical skills and follow directions fairly well. Like I said, working together - works. For this family.
"...By February of this year, they were out of the garage and working on the new factory, the only space they could find in town...."
(Grand Forks Herald)

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section: production floor and offices. March-April, 2012.

That's what the old potato warehouse looks like, with several feet of insulation added to the walls. The candle-making process requires rather tight temperature control. Happily, what's right for candle-making is also comfortable for people.

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section: part of the HVAC system. May 25, 2012.

Community Support

"...The McWilliamses said the community welcomed their business in a way they didn't expect.

"When they bought the building in January, they signed a purchase agreement right before Christmas but didn't have the funds to pay it back until February. Everyone stepped in to help. Local beet-plant workers locked out by American Crystal Sugar Co. provided labor, and businesses provided everything else on credit. 'By the time we had money in, we had already spent four weeks renovating a building we didn't technically own,' Aaron McWilliams said...."
(Grand Forks Herald)
There's been quite a bit written about "mutual trust and respect." Some of it makes sense. I think trust, respect, altruism, and 'enlightened self-interest' boil down to the old 'love your neighbor' thing. And that's another topic, for another blog.

Vaguely-related posts:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Candles in a Box, and an Online Video

Update (June 18, 2012)

Blogger's 'posts' menu glitch has been fixed, so I'm catching up. For example, this post now has a title that makes sense, and an embedded video. Thanks for your patience.

You can shop for Spiral Light Candles ("the candles with a twist") online. Or you could "find a retailer" on the Spiral Light Candle website:
Pretty soon, some of the stores will have this display:

That photo shows a prototype: the set that stores get has lenticular displays, showing the candle 'in motion.'

Lenticular displays aren't as versatile as video: which is also available for retailers. A time-lapse video of a "candle with a twist" is - what else? - online.

"Spiral Light's Spiral Burning Self Filling Candle "

SpiralLightCandle, YouTube (January 9, 2012) Video, 1:31

Related post:

Spiral Light Candle's Online Store - Open

It took longer than we expected, but Spiral Light Candle's online store is open, as of this afternoon:

I think it was worth the extra effort. My son-in-law, Spiral Light Candle's CEO, took me on a pre-launch tour of the online store last night. Even without that, I think I'd have had an easy time navigating Spiral Light Candle's collections.

Candles: Big; Small; Green; Orange; - - -

So far, Spiral Light Candle's online store lets me look at candles selected by:
  • Size
  • Price
  • Color
  • "Candle Collection"
    • Basic Collection
    • Spring and Summer Fragrances
    • Fall Fragrances
    • Season of Giving
  • "Fragrance Inspired By"
    • Family Traditions and Home
    • Meditation
    • Nature
    • Seasons
The ordering process is flexible. I could order a personalized selection of five candles: Red; Purple; Green; Yellow; and Orange. Why I'd want that assortment is beyond me: but I could order a set like that. You'll find that option by clicking the "$90.00 - $100.00 price range.

Like it? Tweet it

If you like what you see, you can Tweet it.

I did, just to see what would happen - and sure enough, "Looking at this 5 Large Candles - Spiral Light Gift Pack - for $99.99, any suggestions?" showed up as my latest Tweet. I'm on Twitter, by the way. There are a remarkable number of folks named "Brian H. Gill," but only one "Aluwir" that I'm aware of. And that's another topic.

Then there's the question of why someone would Tweet what they're looking at in Spiral Light Candle's online store - maybe while on a virtual 'window shopping' excursion?

Related posts:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spiral Light Candle: Factory and Offices In Use; New Website Launched

As of Monday evening this week, Spiral Light Candle Corporation's new website has been up. ( It looks good: and, at least as important, does a pretty good job of introducing folks to Spiral Light Candle's products.

Contact information for Spiral Light Candle wholesale distributors is in place, too.

Getting to this point took longer than expected. But the results, I think, were worth it. There's more work to do, and that's something I'll leave for another post.

Potato Warehouse to Candle Factory: On-Schedule and On-Budget

The Spiral Light Candle factory in Hillsboro, North Dakota, got transformed from a potato warehouse to a climate-controlled production, shipping, and office facility (almost) on-schedule; and (very nearly) on-budget.

When the first candles came off the production line, Spiral Light Candle's factory was quite a few days past the 'optimistic' version of our schedule; and within a few percentage points of the projected budget. Looks like that planning paid off.

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section: during construction. December 31, 2011.

Spiral Light Candle factory, candles ready for labeling. March-April, 2012.

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section: production floor and offices. March-April, 2012.

Related posts:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Confidence" and a T-Shirt

My son-in-law is back from a well-deserved break from getting Spiral Light Candle Corporation's new factory up and running, and assembling a staff who see to it that candles get sold - and delivered.

While he was away, he bought a T-shirt that says, "confidence is what you have before you fully understand the situation."

I couldn't have put it better myself.

Now, some unabashed self-promotion: Spiral Light Candle's website, Also Spiral Light Candle Corp. Storefront, our presence on

Related (?) posts:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spiral Light Candle Factory Construction: More Photos

We're another week closer to having Spiral Light Candle Corporation's new factory ready for its first production run. I haven't seen new photos from the construction site, so here's a trio from the end of December:

Most of the south section will be the factory floor. That insulation is in place now, along with the wallboard. December 31, 2011

Prefabridated building materials only go so far: construction still requires a lot of on-site cutting and carpentry. December 31, 2011

I like this photo of the factory's south section. December 31, 2011

Related posts:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spiral Light Candle Factory Construction: Photos

Last month, Spiral Light Candle's factory was a potato warehouse in Hillsboro, North Dakota. Today, it's a construction site. Next month, I think we'll have equipment in place and running.

I'll be posting photos of the project, starting with this set:

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section, new framing up: some of the new insulation, too. December 31, 2011

A corner in the south section, showing the old metal-and-board walls to the left, new construction on the right. January 3, 2012

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section, same view as December 31: walls and part of the HVAC system in place. January 6, 2012

Somewhat-related posts:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Spiral Light Candle Factory: Insulation Installation Starts Today

Today, spray foam insulation goes on Spiral Light Candle's factory. The process starts, anyway. It's a fair-size building, so I'd be a bit surprised if the job's finished in a day.

Now, some links:

Related posts:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Factory Construction on Schedule; National Sales Manager Hired

Spiral Light Candle's new factory is coming along nicely. Interior framing's done, and dry wall is in place. We expect to start manufacturing candles there by the first week of February.

Meanwhile, we've hired a national sales manager, Connie Schmidt, who lives in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota, area. I'm very glad to see someone with her experience with the company.

This afternoon I learned that I'd be working with Connie Schmidt, when she needs some technical work done, like developing spreadsheets. I'm not the easiest person to work with, but Aaron McWilliams told her what to expect: I think we'll get the job done just fine.

My desktop display was a little livelier than usual this afternoon, as Mr. McWilliams tweaked our file-sharing system. It's more streamlined now, a necessity for something that's being used by several people. This means I'll have to re-learn where to find folders and files: but that shouldn't take long.

Besides, I enjoy this sort of rapid change.

Related posts:

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