Our Time at the NCA Convention

Our Time at the NCA Convention

We kicked off the summer with an event we’ve been looking forward to for a long time: The National Candle Association’s annual conference!

We didn’t have to go far — the conferencewas right in our backyard in Weston, Florida. We were really lucky the NCA decided to host so close, and it gave us the  opportunity to reveal our Glow in the Glades candle to each attendee of the conference. Master perfumer Kari Ariente of Symrise helped us perfectly capture the notes of the Florida everglades and photographer Steve Romero provided a beautiful west Florida sunset to include in our packaging. We’re really proud of that scent, and we’re happy each person got to take a little bit of the glades back home.

The conference was action-packed, and most importantly, we got to connect with many people who mean so much to us. To start, we hosted tours at the shop on Tuesday. In two groups, people got to come get a tour of the shop and see us in action. It was awesome to open the doors to our happy place to so many people. And we made sure the place was decked out, NCA style.


We got to work and hand-painted a welcome banner that we hung in the entrance  to our parking lot that said “Welcome NCA.” We were really proud of it! Team ScentsAbility was so excited, wearing our best ScentsAbility shirts and ready to mingle. Chef Joanne made an amazing spread for our guests and Anais’ Aunt made a custom cake. How amazing is that cake??

The first group really got the true ScentsAbility experience and even poured candles with us. They were so impressed by our factory and the level of knowledge our team had about candles. The second tour was also impressed and really felt the happy feeling that everyone says they feel when they come to ScentsAbility.

We’re so grateful that several members of the NCA raised money that sponsored not only our attendance, but room cost. With that sponsorship, we were able to stay at Bonaventure and be just steps away from all the events throughout the week. Our great friend, Symrise, sponsored our booth for the week.

After a delicious breakfast on the second day of the conference, Bonnie presented our updates and progress since last year’s convention to a group. She got to dive in deep about our Work, Live, Play model and gave a short intro for those who were new and did not hear Bonnie speak the previous year, and had the opportunity to thank some of our amazing donators: International Group, Anchor Hocking, Symrise and Cosmo Fragrance, Boehm Label, Wick-it and Wood Wick Intl.

Denise spoke about the unique perspective of a parent to a person with intellectual disabilities, and how vital a place like Scentsability is for Lexi. Then Lexi took the main stage and brought the house down with her engaging smile, her heartfelt words and love for ScentsAbility. There was not a dry eye in the audience. 

Some of our young adults learned more about colors and trends in an afternoon breakout session, and we spent the rest of the afternoon connecting with friends old and new, and selling candles.

The final day of the NCA was busy, and filled with gratitude. The NCA has opened  so many doors for us, and provided some of our deepest connection. During the final day, Orchidia Fragrance told us that they were given the green light to offer us free scents. We’re so grateful for the donation, and we’re working with them now, as they guide us on trends and consistency, and we can’t wait to see what we  create with them. More to come on that! 

That evening it was party time. It was really important to us that we acknowledge  some of the people that have made our great growth possible. These people are our team! Andreas Steiner from Symrise, who sponsored our booth and actually flew from Europe to be with our kids; Eileen Hendrick from Symrise, who is our angel and handled all the fundraising to sponsor our trip; and, William Muench, one of our biggest mentors and frequent visitor to our store. The party was awesome, and more importantly, we were really grateful to recognize some of the people that are important to us. one of our biggest mentors and frequent visitor to our store. The party was awesome, and more importantly, we were really grateful to recognize some of the people that are important to us.

100 Men Who Care

100 Men Who Care

There’s a very special organization that’s helping non-profits in all across South Florida. They are 100 Men Who Care. This group of business leaders has banded together to support small non-profits in South Florida. They hold meetings every quarter and vote for a non-profit to receive a donation of up to $10,000 based upon attendance.

The organizations leaders are Joseph Costello, Paul Sallarulo, Margaux Fiori and Mara Kelly. The last meeting was held in May at the Capital Grille in Fort Lauderdale. The group allows three charities to speak in front of the entire organization, then they vote for one of the non-profits to receive this quarters donation. John Becker, IT Director at ScentsAbility made a heartfelt speech to the entire audience and discussed the effects that ScentsAbility has had on every individual with special needs that has passed through the doors of the candle shoppe. He spoke about ScentsAbility’s honorary membership into the National Candle Association, and it’s many achievements over the last decade. When the voting was over, ScentsAbility came out on top!

The ScentsAbility team would like to say thank you to all of the members of 100 Men Who Care for their generous support.100 Men Who Care is there to help non-profits survive, and give hope to those that are searching for funding to continue their mission. What their organization does is much needed in the community, and can single-handedly change the direction of a non-profit.

ScentsAbility will be using the funds received from 100 Men Who Care to develop a ScentsAbility flashcard app that will teach our special young adults how to read, learn and recognize the different scents they sell. It will be designed to be fun and engaging with multiple levels of achievement. ScentsAbility will always strive to spread the word about 100 Men Who Care so that other non-profits can have the hope that support is nearby.

Thank you for allowing us to be part of 100 Men Who Care!

A new scent at the NCA Expo!

A new scent at the NCA Expo!

It’s been a whirlwind at ScentsAbility since we attended last years NCA(National Candle Association) Expo. We’ve made so many important partnerships, and met incredible people along the way. The support we received since 2017 has been overwhelming.

Being invited back to this years Expo was the most important event on ScentsAbility’s to-do list, and we wanted to make it special. We flew up to New Jersey with team members Jessica and Lexy to meet with executives from Symrise the worldwide fragrance manufacturer, where they took a tour of the factory and learned all about fragrances. They also met with Wick-It who provides our candle wicks to see how wicks are made!

This years Expo was in South Florida and the theme was the Everglades. The team worked with Symrise to create a new candle scent. ScentsAbility had a Master Perfumer assigned to their account, and she created a truly remarkable scent called “Glow in the Glades.” The special young adults at ScentsAbility worked diligently to pour 350 of these amazing new candles to be included in the swag bags for every attendee at the Expo!



Coral Springs Festival of the Arts

Coral Springs Festival of the Arts

Another year gone by and another year at the Coral Springs Festival of the Arts. A great outdoor event celebrating the arts. Full of food, fun and entertainment. The ScentsAbility team looks forward to this event every year. It usually takes place around St. Patrick’s day which makes it extra fun year after year.

As always ScentsAbility is one of the busiest booths at the festival. The Make Your Own Magic Wax Candles are always a hit with kids. Some return year after year to make a candle again and again.

ScentsAbility is proud of all the products they make. All of which were named by the special young adults at ScentsAbility. ScentRocks air freshener, ScentSnaps wax melts, ScentsAbility Hanitizer scented hand sanitizer, ScentMe scented roll-on.

This year we had a very special visit from the young lady that’s on our banner. We took her picture 6 years ago! Today she is all grown up. That’s her picture to her left.  It was another great weekend at the ScentsAbility booth! Thanks to all those that came out for a great weekend of family fun!

Soaring Once Again….

Soaring Once Again….

From the first day I walked into ScentsAbility, I felt a rekindling with a school I had taught at over a decade ago, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, named after a pioneer and savior of the Everglades who had, when the school was founded, already endured over 100 years of life, most of it fighting to save Florida’s precious Everglades.

Perhaps this rekindling was because of Kim who had graduated from Douglas during the time I taught there; we often shared stories about those years, and her love of sports made her extra proud to have been at MSD while Chicago Cub first baseman, Tony Rizzo, attended there.  Perhaps it was the plethora of student volunteers who come into the shoppe from Douglas.  Perhaps it was the proximity to PizzaTime: a favorite of the ScentsAbility crew as well as my own sons and their friends who attended Stoneman Douglas.

More recently it was a young man, Zachary, a freshman at MSD, who is simply different from all the other student volunteers we have had.  He does not come to the shoppe just to earn his 30 hour school requirement.  He has sincerely enjoyed being there and has a connection with our chandlers, despite being half their age, that I’ve not seen in any other young adult.  He is already figuring out how to get other MSD students involved with our crew.

Zachary, Kim and Anais have something in common: they are all Douglas Eagles.

So when the tragedy occurred at Douglas on Valentine’s Day, my first thoughts were of Zachary and of some of the teachers and staff I know there.  Bonnie, the shoppe director, immediately texted me that Zach was OK and would be coming to the shoppe as much as possible as a sort of respite from the horrendous experience he had endured.

I get it.  ScentsAbility is that kind of place, a place that is a part of the real world, but has a reality and sense of time all its own.  A simpler place where love and camaraderie and togetherness prevail, where hugs are the norm, where time often seems to stand still.   A place where everybody is a friend – and often family – to everybody else.

Anais quickly learns to pour just the right amount of scent rocks into the bag.

This week another Douglas student, a student with special needs, Anais, came to ScentsAbility.  Not only had she endured the February tragedy, but she and her mother came to Parkland to live with her aunt a few months ago when her home in Puerto Rico was destroyed during Hurricane Maria.  Her aunt thought perhaps ScentsAbility would be a comfortable place for Anais while adjusting to not one, but two life altering experiences.  And Anais fit right in.   By the end of the day, she was cutting decorative ribbons, making scent rocks and dispensing hand sanitizer, all the while with a smile on her face.  Smiles have no language, and although Anais is working hard on her English, the interactions and hugs with new friends made any language barrier disappear.

Zach shares wax pouring techniques with Anais as she pours her first candles.

It has been only a few difficult weeks since the tragedy, but as is typical with tragedies, communities and people come together, sometimes by choice, sometimes by necessity, and often by coincidence.  I have never witnessed such a sense of community, this sense of Coral Springs and Parkland being one against evil, this sense of the worlds of young adults with special needs and typical young adults becoming one.  I saw it when I walked by the memorials at the school, I saw it at the vigils in the park, and I see it every day at the ScentsAbility.  Marjory Stoneman Douglas would have been proud of the students at the school which is part of her legacy.  Like her, they will endure, with a sense of community they will prosper, and like Eagles they will soar.

With a Little Help….

With a Little Help….

I had my doubts….I anticipated we might have a little trouble making lava bead bracelets.  It was a great idea for a new scent product, and we hoped to be able to make the bracelets ourselves rather than ordering them pre-made.

My doubts began early – long before we even opened the kits in the shoppe.  I was visiting my 10 year old granddaughter Lizzie and figured she was the perfect one to try the task.  Disregarding the annoyance of her dogs trying to chase down wayward beads, bracelet assembly went well.

NOTE TO SELFFind a way that the beads won’t roll off the table even if you don’t have pets.

Then it was time to knot— which became a series of failures.  Bracelet after bracelet broke, knots came loose and beads dropped everywhere.  I emailed Cheryl, the lady who had supplied the kits, and she promptly replied that she would be coming to south Florida soon and would be glad to give us a tutorial.

A peek at some of the variety of bracelets Cheryl shared with us.

Meeting Cheryl, whose company is Coconut Quartz, was just one of those fortuitous coincidences.  Bonnie had met her in December while visiting Niagara Falls, where Cheryl just happens to have a shop, which Bonnie just happened to walk into.  And it was only a few minutes before Bonnie envisioned these lava rock sensations – capable of holding scent – in ScentsAbility’s product line.

While we waited a few weeks for Cheryl and her husband Steve to visit the shoppe, I began to worry that not all of our staff would be able to string the tiny beads onto an even tinier, one millimeter stretchy string.  Imagine my surprise when I walked into the shop on the morning of their visit, and several of the kids were already stringing bracelets they had personally designed.   The table was a potpourri of color and texture as beads and spacers were passed around and Jessica, Lexy and Kortni proudly held up their unfinished creations for me to admire.


Jessica proudly shows off the beads she strung herself.

NOTE TO SELF Remind everyone, including me, that beads fall off the string more easily than they go onto the string, especially when held upright.

As the kids completed their bracelets, I noticed how differently each created her pattern.  Jessica’s choice of beads and colors seemed rather spontaneous — much like she is.  Lexy, by contrast, chose her beads in small batches, reminding me of her work pattern: one task at a time.  Kortni loved all the beads, and her creation shows that as vividly as her personality does.

Lexy meticulously assembles her bracelet, section by section.

NOTE TO SELF The ‘how’ does not matter;  the results are all unique — and beautiful.

Then the moment of truth.  Cheryl showed us how to tie the knot; the secret lay more in the technique of tightening the knot than the actual tying.  Success!

Then more decisions….Lexy chose to scent her dark pink lava rocks with Cinnamon, Kortni thought sniffing Eucalyptus on her multi-colored bracelet might help her allergies, and Jessica chose Lavender for her pink and white stones.  Others opted to forego the scents for now.  Regardless, faces of staff and students alike beamed with pride over our new creations.

Cheryl, Jessica, Kortni, Sara and Lexy smell the scents they added to the lava rocks.

The morning ended with pictures, hugs, thanks and new friends who simply chose to stop by the shoppe on their way from Canada – through Ft. Lauderdale –  to a cruise to the Bahamas.

NOTE TO SELFThese kids can do anything — with a little help from our new friends!

Holiday Flurry….

Holiday Flurry….

After over four years volunteering with the ScentsAbility family, I thought I was used to surprises…of all types.   And being in the midst of my fourth holiday season at the shop, I thought I was ready for the accelerated pace of sales and events.

But I was not ready for this season.  It has been a flurry of surprises, orders and events.

For me it started when I got a phone call from Bonnie the day before Thanksgiving.  First of all, a phone call – not a text??  I quickly learned that the Chief Marketing Officer from GreenspoonMarder had come in and pretty much cleared the shelves in the showroom.

Then came a large order from Joe Blythe in New Jersey, owner of WICK IT, the company that donates all of our amazing cotton wicks. Uncle Joe, as we affectionately call him, wanted to restock his supply of ScentsAbility Candles for his warehouse storefront.  We were exhausted — happily.

Our candle display at Wick It in New Jersey.

But why stop at New Jersey.  Next came a surprise call from an employee at the Embassy of Israel in Washington D.C. She had found us online and wanted to order personalized candles for the Embassy’s holiday party.  What an honor — we are still beaming.

And the busy days have been great.  The kids have never worked so hard wicking and cleaning and lidding and labeling, and we all leave the shop every afternoon smelling like a wonderful concoction of our new aromas.

In the meantime Bonnie and varying chandlers have been at events from the Palm Beach School for Autism in Lake Worth, to Weston Town Center,  to the Franklin Academy in Pembroke Pines.   I get reports from the kids such as, “We sold out of Magic Candles.”  Or “I learned to upsell,and somebody bought ten pine candles.”

Anthony Rizzo takes time for a photo with Kim, Kortni, Denise Lexy, Jessica and Bonnie.

And let’s not forget some fun at the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation 6th Annual Walk-Off for Cancer in Parkland where several of our crew met Chicago Cubs baseball star and Stoneman Douglas graduate, Anthony Rizzo.  Plus the shop has been visited by some fascinating people such as the man who bought every Havana Nights candle because it reminded him of his homeland, and the Marine veteran, Nick, who came in for some Lavender Essential Oil and stayed a while to chat and help out a bit.

Kim went to high school with Rizzo, and as she always says “I sat next to him in study!”

We are still in the midst of the Holiday Season, and I can only imagine what’s next.  And why not!!  It’s what ScentsAbility has been working toward for a long time.

A Visit to WICK IT!

It was special trip for special people. Jessica and Lexy took off for New Jersey to visit a company that has been more than supportive of ScentsAbility. Wick It has provided candle wicks to ScentsAbility for over two years now. The girls met with Joe Blythe, the owner of Wick It, and he took them on a tour of the factory.


Then the girls paid a visit to the candle shop next door to see their own candles on display!

Wick It has their own candle making experience behind the store and the girls jumped right in! They chose their own fragrances, then showed their stuff as they made their own creations!

At the end of the day the girls presented Joe with a very special gift! Thank you to Wick It for the amazing support you give to ScentsAbility candles! We are very grateful for the incredible trip to the Wick It candle wick factory!



A Blissful Afternoon….

A Blissful Afternoon….

It was one of those moments….a few friends and I at a beachside cafe, simply enjoying the gentle OCEAN BREEZE as we pondered the breakfast menu.  It was one of those carefree days, so we all enjoyed a decadent CINNAMON BUN with fresh squeezed TUSCAN ORANGE juice rendered from blood oranges.

What could be better? So –  hesitant to get to work and mesmerized by the combined aromas of the almost sensual OCEAN BREEZE and the MAGNOLIA BLOOM fragrance of the bouquet on the table, we decided to order some succulent, warm WHITE TEA with a refreshing dessert of SALTED CARAMELS, while contemplating an afternoon at a BALI SPA.

Then abruptly and rather sadly, I was brought back to reality as one of our staff hollered, “My bus is here, I gotta go!”  And another echoed, “What’s for dinner?”

It was nice while it lasted….

Candles cooling, waiting for wicks to be cut and labels to be applied.

Was it the combined aromas of all those new scents we were pouring that day, or simply my euphoria from the first pour of the day, EXTREME OUD, that sent me into that blissful trance?

Doesn’t matter….it was wonderful.  And I can’t wait to see where the next afternoon’s candle pouring will send us.

Teaming with JAFCO….

Teaming with JAFCO….

ScentsAbility hosted a very special team building event last week as eight members of JAFCO’s development team joined our crew at the Shoppe.

They were here not only to hone their team building skills, but also to participate in hands-on tasks which would provide first-hand experience working with, accommodating, and learning from individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).  Just a few years ago JAFCO opened its Children’s Ability Center in Sunrise to service children with IDD, so our guests were eager to interact with our chandlers.

Lexy and Jessica prepare scent rock samples and flyers for our guests.

Their experience began with a simple job:  putting on their aprons.  Our crew quickly donned theirs and then assisted the visitors who were not quite sure whether to tie the strings in front or back or how to adjust the neck strap.  Our kids are pros at this — and so began the fascinating experience of this blurring of who was teaching whom.

Our guests put on their aprons as instructed by our crew.

As we assembled around the pouring table, crew paired with visitors, Bonnie, our director, explained that we were in the process of completing an order for a private label, and the already poured Bali Spa scented candles needed to be cleaned, labeled and packed.   So the kids began to show the JAFCO group the process, at first working in pairs which soon became small, even competitive, groups.  I’m not sure whether our chandlers or our visitors were more proud of a properly cleaned tin with a perfectly centered label.

Chandlers and JAFCO guests exemplify teamwork, learning how to effectively clean and label tins.

But that really doesn’t matter — because I soon noticed that the group who came to team build was forming new teams, blending with our crew as well as each other.  In the midst of the cheerful chatter, I heard phrases of “we’re teaming,” “I’m nervous,” “let’s brainstorm,” “can you help me,” “what’s next,” “look what I did,” “good job,” and “gotta help my friend over here.”

Kim and Michael share their hand sanitizer expertise with Ariel and Janet.

One of my favorite comments was from Janet who stated, “I just burn them…” but, like the others, she soon realized there was far more involved in candle-making than most would think.

Deena, Tara, Shanna and Jessica work with Bonnie on choosing and mixing scents for their rollerballs.

There were more experiences awaiting our guests, including wicking some votive glasses, bottling essential oils and pouring hand sanitizer, but no matter the task, the upbeat mood,  bonding, and motivation of all involved kept growing.  When one of our chandlers, Khari, moved away from the table to demonstrate our new wicking tool which accommodates his disability, his JAFCO teammate Shelli rather jokingly pleaded, “You can’t abandon us, we’re learning to wick.”   To which our always calm Khari responded, “Patience, my Friend.”

When things get a big hectic, we always rely on Khari, aka ‘Mister'” to remind us to be patient.

And so what began as a team building activity for JAFCO, became so much more than any of us expected.  Because they had other commitments that afternoon, the experience ended all too soon,  but as they left with bags of candles to use and share, one visitor summed up the experience perfectly:  “Best day at work…ever!”