Neki Mohan from Channel 10 News

Channel 10 News Anchor Neki Mohan dropped into the candle shoppe for an afternoon of candle making fun! She met the everyone at the shop and watched how they work as a team to make all of their products. She learned about the unemployment statistics for individuals with developmental disabilities and how ScentsAbility is working hard to reduce those numbers. She gave the team a great pep talk and had everyone full of smiles with the energy she brings everywhere she goes.

Thank you to Channel 10 News Anchor Neki Mohan for the shout out on this mornings news cast! We had a amazing afternoon with you at the candle shoppe yesterday!

An Apple a Day

What a great day of learning at the Apple store! Phillip asked the team all kinds of questions about ScentsAbility and got to know everyone inside and out. Then he went over some very important apps that are useful for those with IDD.

Transit is a new app that will get you on your way! Transit partners with transit agencies and shared mobility providers to get cities moving. Like a helpful personal robot, GO thinks about your journey so you don’t have to. Get upcoming departure times for nearby train or bus lines without even tapping your screen. Uber. Bikeshare. Carshare. Quickly compare all of your options on one screen. Simplifying the commute in more than 175 cities worldwide.

Thank you to Phillip Roffman and the Apple team for giving ScentsAbility an important learning experience!

The Brooklyn Cafe visits ScentsAbility

Lately

Lately

There are times we need our people more than others. I know it’s hard enough for those of us that can express ourselves clearly to say when we are in need, but how do we perceive the needs of someone else, who maybe can’t themselves say “I need you”? We just try, and we let them know we see them, even though they can’t tell us themselves.

We have a beautiful tribe at Scentsability. We have fun together, work hard together, and explore new areas and push our comfort zones together. These shiny times are fun, but what’s most important is that we sit with each other through it all. And there are no exceptions to that. It’s like having that friend you know you can always call, or that feeling after a long day and you finally crawl into bed. We are each other’s acceptance, escape and home, all in one. And lately, in the middle of our beautiful times together, we’ve been going through challenging things too. Our young adults, like the rest of us, face hard life changing transitions and pain. And the only thing we know to do with these things is to simply be with them. To let each other know “I’m your tribe.”

About a month ago, Kim’s dad passed away. This is something we were preparing for, as her father was older and had been struggling with health problems for some time. But it doesn’t matter. It never matters when you “see it coming.” Losing a parent is hard, and we’re doing our best to love Kim, who maybe can’t always say “this is really hard.” During this transition, Kim has moved from the home she shared with her dad for the last 32 years of her life, and into a new chapter at our founder, Bonnie’s, home — the beginning of what will one day be our girls’ home. Kim is slowly getting comfortable there, spending days working on Scentsability projects and adjusting. We’re doing our best to spend fun times together, and spent last Sunday all taking branding photos together. Kim got her hair and makeup and done for the day and she told us all, “I look good.” You do, girl. She’s also going on dates with her guy. She and Billy went to Toojay’s the day before. Billy told me they split the cheesecake for dessert so no one “went overboard.” And we are talking about it, whenever she wants. To the best of our ability, we let her know she is seen and heard. The first moment we had alone on Sunday Kim let me know “my dad died.” I let her know that my mom also died some time ago, and that it is scary and hard when our parent leaves us (what I was actually saying was “I see you.”). Two of our girls, Lexi and Jessica, have also been dealing with difficult health problems. They have both been in and out of the hospital and packing doctor and physical therapy visits into their days. Lex has been dealing with knee issues from a procedure she had earlier this year. She was in a wheelchair for some time, and then a walker, and now walking with a pirate’s limp. This hasn’t been an easy period for our dance loving girl, and there’s been times of frustration and impatience. Jessica has been going through very painful periods due to an infection, which has left her feeling restless and anxious, and often unable to sleep. 

And we’ve all been there. Those period where you’d just do anything for some good rest. We know this will pass, and we know bright beautiful days continue to be around the corner. But through these things, we do what we know: we sit together. We have seen it on posters and all over Instagram before, but it’s true: everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Take it from this group, that together is the kindest, purest hearts I’ve known. Please keep being kind. Go on a date with your guy or girl, or mom or friend, talk about the things that are maybe uncomfortable, but you know you’ll feel better finally getting out. Dance with a pirate’s limp. Split the cheesecake. Just keep saying “I see you.”

 

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!