Forbes' interview with 54Celsius' managing director, Daniel Koval

Forbes' interview with 54Celsius' managing director, Daniel Koval

HeadsUp Design Company, which does business as custom candlemaker 54Celsius, also saw a dramatic increase in sales over the past year, said Daniel Koval, founder and managing director. With offices closed and no service or fashion industries competing for disposable income, spending on home décor and accessories experienced a major boost. On the flip side, global logistics issues cut off growth due to an inability to get product or raw materials.

This was 54Celsius' second time exhibiting at NY NOW.

”Retailers who did venture out to the show came to buy, and we had a fabulous show. While the aisles were quiet, we had customers in our booth virtually non-stop... last year was also very strong in my part of this industry. People have cash to spend, and the home has taken on a whole new importance as companies rethink the 'where' of the workday,” said Koval. “Home-accessory sales and candle sales are continuing to exceed our expectations. I’ve hired two new customer service team members since the pandemic began and am now looking to add more. Many stores have moved online, and others are finding that as vaccination rates increase, consumers are excited to go out and shop at their local stores again.”

The one macroeconomic development that would help boost 54Celsius' prospects is a solution to the global shipping container shortage. The company ships its candles in refrigerated containers from Europe and Asia to the U.S., as well as from America to Europe. The shortage means that supply is extremely difficult to get these days, resulting in lost sales and angry, frustrated customers.

“When we do get a container the cost has tripled or even quadrupled. One container route that last year would cost $6,000 is now costing $26,000. The system is broken,” Koval said. “If there is a silver lining to the container shortage, it’s that it has reinforced our commitment to manufacture locally. We have shifted production of a number of lines to the U.S. this past year, and we will continue those efforts in each of the markets where we sell. It reduces our carbon footprint, increases jobs here, and helps us to be more responsive to our clients.”

“We do think wholesale and retail industries are certainly in recovery mode, but on a sliding scale, as this crisis has affected every business differently. The ones that want to survive are working hard to ‘will it’ to happen. Until the veil is lifted on open doors again, retailers and wholesalers alike are skeptical. Overall investments are down, and we don’t think we will see larger, confident buys until we know what direction things are moving in. It’s a tough spot to be in, but from what we experienced, buyers are planning ahead with caution, as are we.”

Read the full story here.