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NEWBERRY – Many small businesses are built on a dream—people wanting to follow a passion and start a new business in their control and direction. The new digital age has allowed these small businesses to get exposure and gain clientele. Some of the more artistic businesses also depend on art shows, fairs and exhibits to increase their market. Now, any events that includes crowds are on hold for an undetermined time. Over 24 million jobs have disappeared in fewer than two months.

Deborah Salmi is a digital marketing professional by trade, but she started her own business designing and making hand-poured aromatherapy soy candles under the company name of Ritual Tree.

“For each candle sale, I give a portion of the sales proceeds to the Nature Conservancy to plant trees in degraded areas, restore wetlands, and plant new forests,” Salmi said. “After you use your candle, the pot can be repurposed for planting. The dust cover that came with your candle, is biodegradable seed-infused paper made by a local artist and you can wet the cover and plant it”

Newberry resident Mandy Wyrick makes handcrafted bath and spa products under the company name of Ginger Bomb Naturals. Each are made by hand with natural ingredients and a large variety of scents and natural ingredients.

Dee Mullin is also from Newberry and owns a plant and succulent nursery. Mullin has over 25 years of experience as a freelance floral designer and now concentrates on designs with succulents. She has a successful business doing event arrangements, art shows and festivals.

These three independent business women have something in common. Like so many others, all future business disappeared. Salmi was looking at all her inventory of candles meant to relax and remove stress that were simply gathering dust. She also knew that despite her loss of work, there were many people still working in often stressful but necessary positions who were putting their own health on the line to provide services for the general public. There has been recognition of heroic efforts and self-sacrifice by medical and first responders in this pandemic. But there are less visible jobs that may not be as dangerous or intense, but still put the worker at risk and are necessary to maintain.

Grocery store workers have important, “essential” jobs that put them on the front lines during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Their work is high-risk because they are in direct contact with potentially infected members of the public; oftentimes with little protective gear. There are reported increasing cases in the food and service industry. It’s a hard decision to go to work every day, never knowing if you may come in contact with an invisible enemy.

It was then that Salmi contacted Mullin and Wyrick with a concept. All three had a surplus of product that were meant for relaxation and beauty, so why not make gift packages to take to grocery stores and hospitals to thank the employees for their dedication. They called the project Scents, Suds and Succulents for Essential Workers.

The idea was to help these essential workers manage their stress, using surplus inventory from canceled craft shows and farmer’s markets and put together in gift bags. These beautiful handmade gifts are designed to ease stress and encourage relaxation and let these employees know that they are appreciated.

“Our own Scents, Suds & Succulents team member, Mandy, knows this first hand because her mother, Judy Kail, is a grocery store worker in Pennsylvania,” Salmi said.

On April 28, the women took three carts of gift bags to the Publix at Hunters Crossing to give to the employees, with a little over 100 self-care bags for their workers.

That first batch of gift bags came from their own supply of handmade products and plants. They hope to continue sharing the love, but with more than 2,700 local employees of Publix alone, not to mention the other food stores in town, it’s not economically possible for them alone.

They have set up a GoFundMe page under Scents, Suds, and Succulents for Essential Workers. The link to that page is https://bit.ly/2yWeKLi

All money donated will strictly go to materials for these gifts. They hope that other people will see the purpose and value in giving a small gift of appreciation to the people working in these troubled conditions., If enough can be raised the group wants to expand the gifts to hospital workers as well.

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