Knoxville woman turns layoff into start of bath and body business

Knoxville woman turns layoff into start of bath and body business

Posted:
Debbie Shepherd is optimistic. She's heard that "everybody makes candles," but she says, "There was coffee before there was Starbucks, too, you know?" Debbie Shepherd is optimistic. She's heard that "everybody makes candles," but she says, "There was coffee before there was Starbucks, too, you know?"

By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- Getting over the shock of being laid off takes time, but when you've come to terms with it, what do you do next? A Knoxville woman's answer was to start her own business making candles and bath and body products.

After more than 20 years on the job, Debbie Shepherd, 58, found herself laid off.

"I think I first went through the shock, the disbelief. Then the anger and then more anger and then hurt... And did I mention anger?" she says, smiling.

With just a few years before reaching retirement age, Debbie thought she had job security. She figured in five or six years, it was off to a life of leisure.

But the lay off put a crimp in her plan.

So what was plan B? "I didn't think about getting another job," Debbie says. "I've got something at home that I can turn this whole thing around."

That something is a small business she started in her basement last year with her aunt. 

Originally, the idea when Debbie started "Goode Scents" was to grow the business over time and use it to supplement her retirement.

That thought is now out the window. Her goal is to make the small operation big enough to be her main source of income.

It's not as far-fetched as some might think. Tom Graves, director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center at the University of Tennessee, says Shepherd's chances of surviving two years is about 66 percent. 

He says a full third of start ups last a decade. The old story that nine out of 10 small business startups fail, is an urban legend, he adds.

Graves recommends that Debbie turn to the Small Business Administration or locally to the Family Business Institute for help with her business needs.

He also says most start ups aren't profitable for a year or two. 

Graves says Debbie needs access to capital and her sources would include banks and equity investors. But mostly, family and friends are the biggest sources of cash in those early days of a start up.

"If someone has that dream or desire and they go about it properly, chances of success are far greater than it would appear from the urban legends that seem to be existent today," Graves says.

Still, there are lots of candle makers out there and that will make success more difficult.

But Debbie is optimistic. She's heard that "everybody makes candles," but she says, "There was coffee before there was Starbucks, too, you know?"

Debbie already has a Goode Scents Web site and a storefront presence, a small space at the Southern Market in West Knoxville.

And since her layoff, she's developed a business plan that includes a marketing plan. 6 News  found her on Twitter and she's sending samples of her work to major retailers.

"I'm hoping in two years, I can go back to my former employer and say thank you, because though this adversity, I've become the person I am right now," Debbie says.

She understands the challenges she's facing in her new career path. She says she'll give it her all for the next six months and work as hard as she can to make her business succeed.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WATE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.