Jessica is a young adult with intellectual disabilities that requires her to have someone by her side almost all the time. However, she, like other individuals with special needs, has the desire and capability to excel at a job in which she can put her skills and incredible drive to work. The challenge was to find the right fit of people, tasks and environment to allow Jessica to shine.

Jessica and the team working at the candle shoppe.

For years, Jessica’s parents struggled to figure out how Jessica and people in her position could find “real” jobs that not only could help to support themselves financially, but also provide a sense of pride, accomplishment and camaraderie each and every day. They determined Jessica could be most effective where a process could be broken down into separate steps that she could focus on one at a time. They also believed it was important to produce a simple, finished product that Jessica could start and finish, so that she knew what she was working towards and could be proud of completing. Many ideas failed for one reason or another – too involved of a process; too expensive; too dangerous.

The answer came unexpectedly one holiday season. Jessica was so excited to give her mom a present – a set of candles. They smelled wonderful and were very pretty. Jessica’s parents saw her excitement and quickly realized they had found what they had been searching for. Jessica and her friends could make their own beautiful candles, add scents, colors and packaging, and sell them. They would start in their home; sell at craft fairs and to wonderfully supportive individuals and business owners who would put these special products on their shelves. More people like Jessica would want to participate – there would be room for as many as they could fit. Unknowingly, Jessica’s present turned out to be a real gift for her and others with special needs – it gave life to ScentsAbility.

Jessica pouring candles

Jessica pouring candles.











From the beginning, Jessica took her commitment very seriously. She tirelessly tested different pourers, wicks, scents, labels and other materials to determine the most effective process for her to be able to work independently, efficiently and safely. Jessica quickly mastered the techniques of pouring and labeling, and each day became more comfortable and skilled in color matching and applying proper amounts and types of scents. She was ready to start selling.

Jessica and her first candle cart.

Jessica and her first candle cart.









Her parents built a small kiosk resembling an old peddler’s cart with a sign reading “Jessica’s Candle Shoppe”. When Jessica saw the kiosk filled with her homemade candles, she proudly announced, “this is my candle store”. Jessica’s parents took her to basic workshops focused on owning and building a business, they worked with her on selling techniques, gave her business cards, promotional materials and created a website. Her hard work and dedication was rewarded with a small grant, with which she was able to purchase supplies to keep her small business in business.

Jessica at work in her candle shoppe

Jessica’s enthusiasm and love for what she has created makes her a natural salesperson. She loves to interact with the people she meets, and that her candles make people happy; however, she has learned that selling is only one part of the job, and not a day goes by without her making candles, labeling, packaging or doing something to make the business succeed. She has achieved a level of confidence and competence that her parents and doctors never thought possible, and she continues to grow with each candle she makes, business card she hands out and event she attends.

With Jessica’s success, her parents realized the potential for ScentsAbility to be a vehicle for many other young adults to realize their potential.  Beginning with Jessica’s friends, and soon expanding to other organizations that assist those with special needs, ScentsAbility is not simply a business that sells candles – it is an opportunity to make a difference.

We hope that someday ScentsAbility will permit hundreds, even thousands of individuals with special needs to become more active and independent, to develop discipline, to be productive and proud of what they can achieve. We truly appreciate your support of ScentsAbility’s mission to light the path to independence…one candle at a time:”