Jennifer Azzopardi moved to New York City from Melbourne, Australia back in October 2019 with her husband and mini dachshund, Linguine. While awaiting her work permit in early 2020 she registered for a candle making class to fill the time. Of course, the global pandemic had other plans and the class was cancelled. Undeterred, Jennifer decided to teach herself using online tutorials and videos and quickly fell in love with the process, embarking on a quest to start her own, fully-natural range Scent + Sprout (read on for your discount code!)
What should we know about Scent + Sprout and why did you decide to start it?
After watching numerous youtube videos, joining candle forums and a lot of trial and error I decided to start Scent + Sprout. Initially, it was going to be just for fun, but then I realized that a lot of store bought candles were made with paraffin wax, fragrances that included phthalates and just overall not good for your health. I wanted to provide a cleaner and natural option so that I no longer had to worry about what I was breathing in each day! All candles at Scent + Sprout are made with 100% soy wax derived from American grown soy beans for an eco-friendly, clean burn. I also knew I wanted to do something for the environment, and that is when I stumbled upon One Tree Planted. They are a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. I decided to partner with them and so for every order made at Scent + Sprout a tree will be planted. Each month I focus on a new project or location for where the trees will be planted.
What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ or ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’?
When I realized that my candles had made their way to 30 states in the US. It was definitely a proud moment, and made me realise, wow, I have actually reached a fair few people!
What have been the hardest challenges you’ve faced in starting a business? What have you learned?
The biggest challenge is understanding the products that work, and the ones that don’t. I have launched many different items within the last few months and some have been very successful and others not so much. But you learn so much from those failed projects, because you continue to grow and learn from your mistakes. I would also have to say understanding Instagram algorithms, as they are constantly changing!
How has COVID impacted you?
COVID has had a positive and negative impact on me. The positive would definitely have to be that I started Scent + Sprout when COVID began, as I wanted something creative to do, so it was essentially born out of the situation. The negative impact is that I haven’t had an opportunity to sell at markets yet and a lot of supplies have been low due to high demand.
Where have you been most successful in marketing your product?
Instagram! Prior to starting Scent + Sprout I started marketing the brand through social media and it definitely helped build a following – follow us at @scentandsprout.
Do you have any mentors?
Yes, I have a fair few small business mentors. The Instagram community is amazing and I have a few businesses that have been there for me from the very start. We share ideas and we give each other feedback. My husband has helped me a lot when it comes to the finance side of things.
Have you found that being Australian has helped or hindered your business efforts here?
I would say a bit of both. I definitely feel that being away from my network in Australia has made it a little harder, but the Australians in New York community is very supportive.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business in New York?
Just go for it!! There is no better time to start than now. If you have an idea, do your research and make a start.
Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business?
I plant a tree for every order made. For the month of January I am currently planting trees in Australia and will continue to do so in the future.
What is next for you and your company?
I am always looking at new projects to work on, so definitely adding items to my store. I have registered to sell at markets in the Spring! And I would also love to get my candles into stores in New York.
Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with AWNY members?
Yes of course! For 10% off use the code AWNYC on the Scent + Sprout Etsy store.