Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amber Epperson, Owner of The Scented Vine, located in Savannah, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
It can be argued that your sense of smell is your strongest sense. It connects you to the world around you. The Scented Vine creates scents that connect communities by evoking emotions, engaging memories, and encouraging you to experience new things. We are an eco-friendly scent shop that blends safe, non-toxic oils to create a buffet of amazing products such as soy candles, room & linen mists, massage oils, diffusers, aromatherapy roll-ons, and more!
As a service, we help small business owners utilize scent marketing to capture their unique brand identity to connect with their ideal customers. As a solopreneur, I understand how hard it is to manage every area of your business. My goal is to help business owners to stand out in their market through the power of scent.
Tell us about yourself
I worked in events for 15 years before starting this business. I was overwhelmingly overworked and astoundingly underpaid. I worked in environments where I felt like a number on an assembly line. My output was all that mattered and not me as a person. I felt so disconnected. I was constantly busy, but I didn’t feel fruitful or impactful. Then I finally turned to the One I should have been talking to all along. I prayed about my purpose and feeling disconnected. God told me to quit my job and start a candle business. Me, of all people! I had never made a candle a day in my life. I didn’t even buy candles consistently. But then I was reminded of something. If I had faith that God had created me for something greater and that He had a purpose and a plan for my life, then I needed to have faith that He knew the best way to get me there.
So, from my desire to be more purposeful, this business was born. I am working to create not only a legacy that my children can grow into but also be an inspiration for other Black woman entrepreneurs. I want to show that with the right amount of faith, you can change the world. I also want to give Black women in business the support that they don't typically receive in the marketplace.
As the business has grown, I've settled into a path that not many business owners have access to. Small business owners need to stand out and uniquely brand themselves, but they’re often working with limited budgets and small teams. I provide a service that allows business owners to capture their unique brand identity, target and retain their customers, and increase their sales without constantly fighting the dreaded social media algorithm.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is seeing the impact we've had on our community. My community is comprised of Black and Brown women business owners. Some are mothers, some are wives, some are part-time entrepreneurs, but the one thing these women have in common is their desire to grow within a community where they can give and receive value.
When I left my 9-5, I wanted to create an opportunity where I could be purposeful and impactful in my community. I've been able to partner with universities to support their student organizations with virtual fundraising. I've collaborated with BIPOC artists to create a virtual handmade art experience called ComfiScent that allows people to support living artists in fun and practical ways. We've also connected with Margie's House, an organization that serves marginalized groups (elderly and women in low-income communities), in their mission to provide food and immediate assistance to those in need. Our mission is to connect with our community in meaningful ways, and I love watching that happen in real time.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
My fatal flaw is that I don't ask for help until I'm floundering in the deep end without a life jacket. I try to wear all the hats and juggle every ball, and every time I quickly realize that I CAN NOT. In business, you have to understand your strengths and acknowledge your weakness. Your business is only as strong as the people operating it. One of the hardest yet most valuable lessons for me was learning that you need to be ok asking for help. Entrepreneurship is baptism by fire. The days are long, the tasks are endless, and the output is determined by how much you're able to put in. Thinking that you can do it alone is one of the easiest ways to see how quickly you can fail.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Top three tips to avoid the foolishness I've endured as a business owner:
- There is an old African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." In other words, GET HELP. You don't know what you don't know, and the internet can only teach you so much. Find your strengths and operate within them. Acknowledge your weaknesses and find others who can help in those areas.
- Rest is productive. Starting a business does not operate on a 40 hours a week schedule. Long hours and sometimes long nights are needed to build the different areas of your business. But you can't pour from an empty cup. Schedule time to disconnect from building your empire to intentionally rebuild yourself.
- Your customers want to connect with you just as much as they want to connect with your business. Build engagement with your audience by creating an authentic connection with them.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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