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37 Oaks' Small Business Spotlight! Meet Amber Epperson

Shining a light on the amazing small business owners that power the communities we live, work, and play in.

37 Oaks has the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing small business owners around the country. They started off with a passion or a hobby, then we guide them towards growth. Let's take a moment to shine a light on the rock stars!

Amber Epperson, The Scented Vine. 37 Oaks Small Business Spotlight
Amber Epperson, The Scented Vine (Savannah, GA)

| 1. Tell Us About Your Business

The Scented Vine® is an eco-friendly scent shop that uses the power of scent to connect the world. We handcraft non-toxic, scented products that evoke your favorite memories, engage your emotions, and encourage you to experience the best things in life. As a service, we help small business owners use scent marketing to capture their unique brand identity and connect with their ideal customers.

| 2. What Makes Your Business Unique?

Scent Marketing and Sensory Branding is a concept that's either brand new or slightly fuzzy for most small business owners. As our business has grown, its mission and purpose has expanded. On this journey of solo entrepreneurship, I've settled into a unique path that not many businesses take. More than that, a path that not many business owners have access to. Small business owners need to stand out and uniquely brand themselves but they’re often working with limited budgets and small teams. I provide scent marketing as a service that allows business owners to capture their unique brand identity, target and retain their customers, and increase their sales regardless of their size or limited funding.

Other companies that provide a similar service only do so for large corporations with big budgets and multiple storefront locations. This leaves the majority of small business owners unable to take advantage of a great service that can help grow their business. Unlike other businesses, we operate on a bespoke level that caters to a wide variety of business types rather they're online only, home-based, or a service business.

| 3. What Inspired You to Start Your Business?

I worked in events for 15 years before starting this business. I was overwhelmingly overworked and astoundingly underpaid. I worked in environments where I felt like a number on an assembly line. My output was all that mattered and not me as a person. I felt disconnected. I was constantly busy but I didn’t feel fruitful or impactful. Then I finally turned to the One I should have been talking to all along. I prayed about my purpose and felt disconnected. God told me to quit my job and start a candle business. Me of all people!

The Scented Vine Logo

I had never made a candle a day in my life. I didn’t even buy candles consistently. But then I was reminded of something. If I had faith that God had created me for something greater and that He had a purpose and a plan for my life, then I needed to have faith that He knows the best way to get me there. So, from my desire to be more purposeful, this business was born. Because this business emerged from my desire to be more impactful and purposeful, I combine my passion for this business and my inherent ability to create and cultivate relationships. Moreover, I genuinely care about people and making sure that they feel connected to something.

As a result, I am uniquely positioned to create custom experiences tailored to each client. I am working to create not only a legacy that my children can grow into but also to be an inspiration for other Black woman entrepreneurs. I want to show that with the right amount of faith, you can change the world. I also want to give Black women in business the support that they don't typically receive in the marketplace.

| 4. Describe The Challenges Faced In Taking Your Business From A Hobby Into the Early Growth Stage.

Along with balancing being a mompreneur, I am also a solopreneur so every single aspect of growing and maintaining the business rests solely with me. It is challenging to sustain and efficiently grow a business when you have to juggle the marketing, the administration, the operation, the finance, and all the other small pieces that add up to a very important whole. I've learned that in order to grow efficiently you need to 1) make wise decisions with the resources that you have and 2) form collaborative partnerships with other businesses and organizations that allow you to give and receive value.

| 5. How Did 37 Oaks Help You Overcome These Challenges?

Because of the valuable tips, coaching, and workshops that 37 Oaks provides, I was able not only to connect with other small businesses but I learned ways to grow my e-commerce business and thrive in the wholesale industry.

| 6. What Is Your Greatest Win So Far As A Small Business Owner?

I smile at how resilient both I and this business have been following a pandemic that shook the world. I am proud of our ability to not only sustain but to pivot and grow. Despite the loss of income, lack of access to supplies, decrease in services offered, the decline in customers, and change in working structure because of balancing homeschooling, I’ve been able to pivot to leverage technology to connect communities on a virtual platform. I've begun to host online pop-up shops on social media channels to engage customers and drive revenue. I've focused on products that people can enjoy from the safety of their home such as DIY candle kits. With these kits, I am able to host virtual candle-making workshops that allow guests to connect with family and friends that COVID has separated them from. Most importantly, I've learned that I need to have a crystal clear understanding of how to balance my business with my personal health.

The past three years have been difficult in many ways. Life has been hitting harder than Tyson in the first 3 rounds. But every time we got knocked down we got right back up stronger and with a new strategy in place. When I made the decision to be fearless and faithful in my approach to business and life, I learned to adapt to unexpected changes and trust that the plans put in place for the success of this business would fall exactly where they needed to. And that wouldn't happen by my own strength but by my reliance on my relationship with God.

| 7. What Advice Would You Give An Early-Stage Entrepreneur Working To Grow Their Business?

Over the last 5 years, I've learned some valuable lessons in business that I also apply in my daily life but here are the top 2 pieces of advice. 1) Prayer is your greatest resource. Google can only tell you so much. 2) Stop worrying about other people. Stop looking at curated social feeds and comparing who you are to what you see. Focus on your business and the next step you can take to be the best you. You'll never move along in your journey if you're watching someone else's path.

| 8. What's Next For Your Business?

The ultimate goal for this business is to make an impact in the lives of others. As we grow over the next year, we plan to offer more scent marketing services that allow small business owners to grow and thrive no matter what stage of business they are in.

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