The Art of Smell
Crafting Aromas with The Scented Squirrel
August 4, 2017
by Julie Riedel
In a basement workshop filled with wax, glitter, shaped molds, and various sized bottles containing scented oils. Melted wax splatters the floor and two wax melting pots sit on a table. This is the laboratory for Jess Dickey, the owner of The Scented Squirrel, a business making scent creations. The Scented Squirrel opened on July 30, 2016. In the past year the small business went from selling just wax melts to offering air fresheners, lotions, body oils, sleep salve and a number of other items in its online store. One-day Dickey hopes to have a storefront in Kent, Ohio. But as of now, she sells online and at craft shows like the Hudson Flea Market, which she’s selling at this summer.
“I really like my business because I feel like I get to be creative. I’ve always wanted to be really crafty, and I’ve tried so many things, and I’m like ‘I’m not good at this’ or I’d give up. I finally found something that I enjoyed, that I’m good at that I didn’t give up on,” said Dickey. “I get to be the boss, which is just my personality, I like being the one in charge. I get to make my own schedule. It just has so many things that I’ve always hoped I would achieve in life.”
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2017 Ohio Small Business Profile reported 46 percent of Ohio’s private workforce is employed by small businesses. A company with fewer than 500 employees is a small business. According to the report, firms with less than 100 employees occupy the biggest share of small business employment. As The Scented Squirrels’ only employee, Dickey is self-employed. This allows her to pick where and when she works. But, self-employment also comes with more responsibility and risk. According to the 2017 Ohio Small Business Profile, companies employing one to four have the largest job losses.
“Even though it is a market that most people haven’t heard of, in that community it does seem like it’s getting over saturated, but a lot of them are either sinking or swimming, unfortunately,” said Dickey. “I try to support other people, but at the same time I’m not going to order their product if I don’t care for it. Because you would think there are formulas out there, everybody’s should be quite similar, but we all use different wax bases. We all use different stuff and some people’s aren’t as strong as others.”
Dickey contributes The Scented Squirrel’s growth to her use of social media and her blog The Wax Addict, (she stopped updating it because The Scented Squirrel is keeping her busy.) She posts to her social media accounts regularly, and she interacts with her customers through social media. Dickey is a member of the Wax Venders League, a Facebook group for wax melt businesses owners. This group is for talking about wax melts, and the industry. She also teams up with other companies on social media to do product giveaways, which focus on increasing both companies online presence.
Dickey’s usage of wax melts started recently. In fact, she didn’t know anything about them three years ago, nor would she have predicted making them would be her full time job. She started melting them to scent her home. She likes wax melts because they use an electric warmer instead of a wick like candles, making them safer to use. Dickey asked for the equipment as a birthday gift last year. After a few months, she had her own business. She doesn’t remember why she was drawn to wax melts, but they have become her accidental dream come true.
“I feel like scent helps evoke memories, that’s my big thing. Can you smell this thing and it reminds you of grandma’s house or grandpa’s house, or a good time in your life. Just being able to throw that piece of wax on a warmer and get that scent and be brought back to something that’s very comforting to you,” said Dickey.
Dickey makes all the products. Her husband, Patrick Dickey does help her with labeling and shipping orders, but that’s it. She works while Patrick is at work, so they can spend time together in the evening. She does get lonely. It’s just her in her basement, listening to music as she pours, weighs, measures, mixes and melts wax. Face-to-face customer interaction is the main reason Dickey wants a storefront. She likes talking to customers. She enjoys hearing their feedback and ideas for products. Dickey gets a little bit of that through social media, but she would like to do so in person. She also wants to have more local customers; the majority of The Scented Squirrels sales are out of state or to different areas of Ohio.
Jennifer Roman is one of The Scented Squirrel product tester and customers from Pennsylvania. As a tester, Roman receives new products to try before Dickey sells them. Roman tests the product’s quality by evaluating the scent, the artisanship, and the price of the product compared to its size and efficiency. When she thinks a product needs improvement, she tells Dickey who applies the constructive criticism.
Roman contacted Dickey through social media asking if she could review some of The Scented Squirrel’s products. Roman has been reviewing products for a number of years. She has recently started focusing on small businesses. She values the products, and customer service of small businesses. Roman wants to help companies like The Scented Squirrel succeed, because she’s supporting someone’s dream and not a faceless corporation. Roman promotes The Scented Squirrel through social media and blog posts. She believes in The Scented Squirrel as a business and loves its products. She orders something each month after Dickey restocks the online store.
“I look at The Scented Squirrel as a great company. I guess because I’ve gotten to know Jess, but I feel like she really puts her heart and soul into everything that she does. She always takes the customer’s advice, or say there’s something they’re looking for, she will bring it to where she can create the actual product. So she is all about making her customers happy, but not to just make them happy. She really puts her heart and soul into her products and I know her company means a lot to her,” said Roman.
After a month of crafting, Dickey will label her products and restock The Scented Squirrel’s website. She’ll pack pre-orders into flat rate envelopes, and stick them out on her front porch to ship. By noon of the first Saturday of the month, customers can order from the new product selection. It’s always the same kinds of products but every restock offers new scents. Then Dickey will begin creating the aromas for next month, as she ships customers their orders.