In the face of catastrophe, truly courageous people fight back and take a new look at all the facets of their lives. That's how Joel Wyman is dealing with his own life experiences. "Ten months ago I was hit by a car while bike riding," he says. "My best friend was killed. My leg was cut off, and they put it back on. Now I'm walking again." While recovering the use of a severed limb is challenge enough for most people, Wyman is making changes to his business, too. He founded Celestial Dreams, a fragrance company, a dozen years ago. Now he is using Celestial Dreams and industry connections to make a difference with a new product. He is giving away car air fresheners that educate drivers about how to share the road safely with bikes.
"We do an air freshener for cars that I give out to buyers," explains Wyman. "On one side it has our name and website. On the other side it has the law that says when you pass a bike rider, you have to give the bike three feet of room." Wyman is distributing these air fresheners for free, or for a nominal cost, to a wide range of buyers buying his product. "I give them out to my customers who spend $10 a month," he says. "I should have died. Instead, I survived a horrible accident. Everyone I talk to, I give them an air freshener. We're trying to spread awareness to drivers that in order to safely pass bike riders, they need to give them three feet." His ambition is to prevent the kind of disaster he faced. "My philosophy is that if I can save one person's life with that air freshener, then I've accomplished something."
Wyman has already accomplished the creation of a successful company specializing in a unique fragrance product: scented oil buttons. "These oil buttons," he explains, "are fragrance buttons made from concentrated fragrances, essential oils, and concentrates." Placed in a decorative burner, the buttons release a pleasant scent. What makes them unique? Each is made by hand. "I make them myself, in my candle workshop," he says. "I'm not a big, multimillion dollar factory. I've been doing it for 20 years, and I've been doing it myself from the beginning. I make my own molds and product."
That means he can use his own formula for creating scent, with specially chosen ingredients. "I use a blend of different waxes, but I won't tell you what my true blend is," he says. "I use very high quality oils, all essential oils." Wyman sources his ingredients very carefully. "Our fragrances are actually made for our purpose," he says. "We're not buying a generic fragrance, adding it to wax, and saying it's a scented product. I work with my fragrance makers, describe my end product, and they make fragrances formulated for my purpose. That's why my product is stronger than fragrances by others," he adds. Because he operates a small, efficient shop, Wyman's Celestial Dreams can keep costs way down. "I'm a small business, not a big fragrance house," Wyman says. "Big companies have high costs, and they have to keep their processes and costs at a certain high level, and that's where they have to be. I'm a small operation. I don't work on the same profit margins. I can put more into the product because I can afford to."
Celestial Dreams also sells the decorative burners that heat the oil buttons, although that is not where Wyman's main interest lies. "The burners are not what I'm about. I'm about the fragrances," he says, but admits he is excited about one new burner product he is working on.
Although price constraints force him to source all his current burners from China, Wyman is working hard to create an affordable, American-made burner. "Right now I really just redistribute burners from other distributors," he says. "People want cheap prices and cheap burners, and they all come from China. That doesn't sit well with me. I'm working to make a burner within the United States now." He feels strongly about offering a U.S. burner, although the price will be higher. "Will we always sell Chinese burners?" he asks. "Yes, we have no choice. People want $10 retail burners, and I can't make a burner here for $10 and pay health insurance and all my other bills. It doesn't work. But we are coming out with some burners that we're making here in America. It's a beautiful piece of work, and I hope to retail it for $25. Hopefully the American people are going to buy it."
In addition to the new car air freshener and Made In The U.S.A. burner, Wyman has embarked on another big change since recovering from the accident. He is developing a new wholesale trade website that will connect with his retailer customers online. "The retail site has been up since the 1990s," he says, explaining that the site serves customers who cannot find his products at retail any other way. "The site is good for retail customers who reorder. People move around, move away, and they still want to order the product." However, he has a new plan. "We have a new, strictly wholesale website coming out, at OilButtons.com. I want to keep the retail and the wholesale separate. I'll probably require registration and an access code to get wholesale pricing, just because it's a very competitive market."
Wyman's goal is to use the website to better serve and inform his trade customers. "I want to tie the new wholesale website in with my merchandising and advertising campaigns," he says. "Instead of customers having to call me and wait for a price sheet and samples, they can just go to the website, request a sample kit, come back to the site and place orders." Celestial Dreams also remains focused on an amazing level of customer service. For example, if a shopper abandons a shopping cart online without checking out, someone from the company calls the shopper to offer help. "If they go through the process and do not complete the purchase," says Wyman, "I'll call the customer to find out whether they want to cancel the order, or whether they had a problem with the way the order went through, and they'll usually tell me." Fostering that level of communication, Wyman also has plans to reach out to his customers through social media and email. "I have a friend whose whole business is on Facebook and Twitter, and he's going to be working with me now," he says. "I want to give my customers the best."
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