Many Idaho companies issued a fair number of pink slips during the recession. But Meridian-based Scentsy didn’t.
Instead, the wickless-candle maker grew. It’s ranked among the country’s most promising companies by business magazines like Forbes and Inc.com. In just seven years, Scentsy has become a multimillion dollar enterprise.
Maggie Clark started selling Scentsy products three years ago, just as the company started taking off. She recently set up a sales booth at a cheerleading and dance competition in Nampa.
Selling at events are her thing. “I feel like I get all my selling done in a short period of time, it’s a lot of work, and a lot of on your feet, and chaotic and crazy, but I get it done,” Clark says.
Her display is jam packed with those brightly-colored, scented wax bars and the ceramic warmers they melt in. She’s got lotions, room sprays, and even scented stuffed animals.
Last year, at this same event, Clark sold about a thousand dollars Scentsy products in a day.
And, she never expected to be doing this. “Who would have thought I would be selling wickless candles as I near retirement age?”
Clark is one of Scentsy’s 170-thousand independent sellers. It’s a direct sales model. So Clark gets commission on products she sells at home parties and events. She also gets a piece of what her recruits sell.
“I didn’t have this master plan when is started,” Clark says. “I saw it as a way to make some extra money and it’s gradually evolved into almost full time work.”
The number of people she’s recruited, and the amount of money she makes, has doubled each year. Clark says when she started, a good month would mean taking home about $500. Now, she feels like she’s failed if it’s less than $1,200.
President of Scentsy North America, Mark Stastny, says the company’s sales people earn a wide range of money. “We have ladies who’ve joined literally to supplement their income to make a car payment,” Stastny says. “We have other ladies that have built very successful businesses and indeed whose husbands are now joining them, that are making very high six figure and in some cases seven figures annually.”
Stastny says the growth of the company, which launched in 2004, has been a surprise. “We’ve done everything we can to try and keep up with it, but those are good problems to have in a down economy,” says Stastny.
Building A Company
Scentsy was founded by two Utah homemakers and then sold to Orville and Heidi Thompson. The Thompson’s moved the company to Meridian, Idaho. They adopted a direct sales model, and watched revenue climb from $140,000 in 2004 to $535 million in 2011.
Their growth didn’t slow during the peak of the recession. If anything, Stastny says the company grew faster, adding staff daily. Today, Scentsy has about 1,000 corporate employees spread across its facilities in Idaho and distribution centers in Texas and Kentucky*.
Amy Robinson is the Chief Marketing Officer at the Direct Selling Association. She says while overall sales across the industry were down during the recession, some companies did grow.
“This has a lot to do with the ability of the company to manage growth and support that growth at a corporate level,” Robinson says.
She says Scentsy’s growth isn’t that unusual.
“Not every company can experience growth the way they have. But they’re certainly not unique in that they are the only one’s that’s ever happened to.”
Back at her Scentsy booth, Maggie Clark says she lost income when the stock market tanked, she was trying to pay for college for her five kids and not use up her savings.
“I used to be almost embarrassed saying I’m selling Scentsy now,” Clark admits. “And now I just stand tall and it’s like you know what, I’m college educated, and I’m just going to laugh all the way to the bank – life’s funny twists and turns.”
As Clark grows her business, Scentsy is doing the same. It’s introduced new personal-care product lines and a new brand – chocolate fondue.
Time will determine if Scentsy has what it takes to become a household name like Mary Kay, Avon or Pampered Chef.
*StateImpact Idaho originally reported Scentsy’s distribution center is in Kansas when in fact the distribution center is in Kentucky.