The History of Scentsy / The Scentsy Story

The Scentsy Story:

Scentsy is a candle warming company founded in 2004 and based in Meridian, Idaho.   The company offers an alternative to flame candles and home fragrance.  The Scentsy warmers use LED light bulbs and gently warm the wax which creates a stronger and longer lasting scent than jar candles.  They also offer top quality essential oils and diffusers and currently exploring other fragrance delivery systems. 

Where did the Idea for Scentsy start? 

Kara Egan and her sister in law Collette Gunnell after watching Oprah's 'Millionaire Moms' came up with the idea for Scentsy.  They wanted a way to make their house smell good without the fire hazard risk that traditional candles bring.  There was nothing on the market at the time as an alternative and this is where the idea of Scentsy began.  

They started and were working from their basements when in March 2004 they happened to meet Orville Thompson at a home show.  Orville's booth was right across the aisle and became intrigued with Scentsy.   After talking to both Kara and Colette he ended up taking home some of the products in exchange for a video game.  

Orville took the Scentsy product home to show to his wife Heidi Thompson, who admits that she originally planned to discard them with a pile of other products that Orville had occasionally brought home for her to evaluate.

Thankfully, they were never discarded because Heidi fell in love with Scentsy.  

A few days after returning from the home show, Heidi was visiting and sharing the scents testers with her mom and sister. Orville left to run an errand and came home to find the women still smelling the testers, laughing and sharing memories. They were having a great time and something smelled delicious. He asked Heidi what she was baking and the women laughed. She told him it was a Scentsy candle bar called Banana Nut Bread.

Orville was touched by the cozy scene and intrigued to see how different scents could evoke emotions and memories. He was energized by how natural it was to share those feelings and memories with others in the “party” environment. Orville and Heidi purchased the tiny company and moved Scentsy to Meridian, Idaho.

Scentsy becomes a Party Plan Company

Heidi quickly immersed herself in the new venture. She was in love with Scentsy products and determined to see the company succeed.

Heidi’s participation in the business would prove invaluable. While Orville traveled for Event Sales as he did each summer, Heidi took over the financial books and began researching different business models, including direct selling. She learned about the Direct Selling Association (DSA) and was impressed by the DSA’s high level of support for its members. But what really drew her to DSA was the organization’s Code of Ethics.

Heidi convinced Orville to attend the DSA’s national meeting in New Orleans even though the expense was considerable. In fact, Orville and Heidi now laugh that they had to “rub their remaining credit cards together” to come up with the funds for just Orville to attend that meeting.

And that’s where the idea to launch Scentsy as a party plan company was formed. Orville and Heidi learned everything they could about how the direct selling business model worked. They realized how well that model suited the wonderful experience the women in Heidi’s family had shared in her kitchen with the Scentsy testers.

On July 1, 2004, Orville and Heidi launched Scentsy as a party plan company. Driving to Salt Lake City to meet with potential Scentsy Consultants that day, they created the company’s mission statement:

“To bring value to the world by providing an industry-leading, family-friendly business opportunity selling creative, artistic, high-quality products that Warm the Heart, Enliven the Senses, and Inspire the Soul.”

Humble Beginnings:

Scentsy’s first home was a 40-foot metal box. For several months, the Thompsons and their five kids ran Scentsy’s manufacturing and shipping operations from an old ocean shipping container that had been sitting on the family sheep farm in Meridian, Idaho. Orville had secured the farm and started raising sheep when he felt discouraged with his failing Event Sales business. It was his way to reconnect to a time when he felt inspired as a successful entrepreneur. Now it was time to sell the sheep and get to work.

Because they were deeply in debt, with no credit line or means to take on investors, Orville and Heidi had no choice but to “bootstrap.” They used what they had — including converting a mouse-infested ocean container into the “home office” — and worked tirelessly, nearly around the clock, to launch the fledgling company.

Within 3 months of the launch Scentsy out grew the modest “home office” of the ocean shipping container, and the Thompsons leased and moved into an 1,800 sq-ft warehouse and office facility in Meridian, Idaho.

Expansion & Insane Growth:

Orville and Heidi continued to work along with Heidi’s parents Alice and Fred (who pitched in at no salary for nearly two years) to keep up with the demand, and it was not uncommon for Scentsy’s early consultants to show up and help pack and ship their own party orders.  In these early years Orville and Heidi, along with family and friends poured, cooled, packed and shipped all the wickless candles, themselves.

In just under two years Scentsy outgrew the small warehouse space and in June 2006, moved to a 5000 sq-ft facility, then, with more than 600% growth in July, 2007 relocated again, filling 42,000 sq-ft at a new facility.  In October, 2007 an additional 14,000 sq-ft distribution center was opened in Illinois to handle Scentsy’s growth in the Eastern United States.

Between June and August 2008 Scentsy installed two automated custome designed candle bar injection machines named affectionately “Alice” and “Fred” after Heidi’s parents who had donated their time selflessly to Scentsy’s initial success.  By then end of 2008 several other injection machines had been added and Scentsy had more than doubled their footprint in their building to 100,000 sq-ft, and had expanded to the company to include Puerto Rico.

In 2009, Scentsy opened the companies doors to Canada and now operates in the entire USA, Puerto Rico, Cananda and Guam. In 2011, Scentsy went International starting with countries  such as the UK, Germany and Ireland.  Scentsy is now in France, Spain, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico with more plans for expansion.  In 2014 Scentsy celebrated ten years and being a multi award winning company and is in the top 20 global 100 for the Direct Selling Association which is a big deal.  Most Direct Sales companies do not survive very long but Scentsy continues to thrive.!  There are 100k consultants worldwide in this international company!  Scentsy has changed countless lives in going on their 14th year doing this and still strives to live by their core values of simplicity, authenticity and generosity.  

Watch the Video Below for the story through Heidi and Orville's words: