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In 2017, my husband and I decided it was time to fulfill two lifelong dreams: build a new home and live near the beach.

When we received an email from our neighbor's 30-year-old daughter asking if we'd like to sell our home to her family, we jumped at the opportunity to fulfill those two dreams.

John and I standing on the foundation of our future home.

While walking through a local art gallery in our new area, we saw a painting: A Sense of Calmness by Ursula Brenner of Ohio, and we fell in love with it. We purchased it and it quickly became the centerpiece for our new home. One day while I was admiring it, I wondered what scent the artist might imagine for this beautiful painting. There was clearly an inspiration behind its creation. Was there a scent reminiscent of that inspiration? That idea became the seed that grew into our new family business.

I wondered what scent the artist might imagine for this beautiful painting.

A Sense of Calmness by Ursula Brenner

Now we needed a name for this business. We debated names, some cute and creative, and many that had already been trademarked. During one of those conversations, John suggested, "How about Artistscent?". It was the most literal name of all, and we loved it. After a quick check confirming it was free to use, we had a name!

"How about Artistscent?"

In 2018, we formed our LLC and opened bank accounts and credit cards in anticipation of creating products. We decided on candles as the perfect vehicle to launch the concept as we could put art on the glass and scent in the wax, merging the visual beauty of the painting with the matching olfactive flair. The next step was to identify artists that would license their art and had an interest in the concept of creating scents representing their inspiration.

2019 was a busy year. I was still working but actively planning my retirement with my employer and staff. In my spare time, I started researching artists that might license their work and stumbled upon artist Elizabeth "Lizzi" Karlson on a licensing website. She loved the idea, and we started work on the project. Shortly after, I had learned about AirLifting, a benefits corporation, and how they represented housing insecure and disabled artists. We reached out to them and ultimately partnered with artist Ronnie Queenan through a license agreement. We would go on to launch Artistscent in partnership with these two talented artists.

We wanted to distribute our own product, so we looked at spaces, and by September we had found the perfect place. The rest of the year was spent setting up our new warehouse and office, developing our candles and packaging with our artists and vendor partners, creating a website, purchasing supplies, setting up accounting, and countless other things one needs to do when starting a business.

By 2020, it was time for production. My sister Ilene and I traveled to see our glass decorator and to meet Lizzi in March to discuss her line. One week later, Covid hit. Once that happened, everything stopped for months. Eventually we were able to get our glass decorated and our candles made, but it was a long and tedious process. We finally got our first finished product delivered in the fall, and we launched in mid-October.

Elizabeth Karlson describing the inspiration behind Dockside Morning

Our initial concept was now a reality, and we are so proud of what we have accomplished so far. We never could have anticipated the challenges we would face with building a new brand during a pandemic, but we navigated through it and our family became stronger as a result. 

Owning and running a small family business is a true rollercoaster ride with many highs and lows, especially during these past truly extraordinary few years. We made a lot of mistakes and had some wonderful successes along the way. Nearly three years into our launch, we are humbled by what we have learned as corporate and small business experiences are completely different. We have such respect for the wonderful fellow small business owners we have met. 

Owning and running a small family business is a true rollercoaster ride.

No one can know what the future will bring, but no matter what the outcome, Artistscent has been a true blessing to our family.


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