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April 01, 2010

Exclusive Interviews

Executive Connection with Orville and Heidi Thompson, Founders, Scentsy


Orville and Heidi ThompsonIn this month’s “Executive Connection,” Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming speaks to Scentsy’s Founders, Orville and Heidi Thompson, CEO and Executive Vice President, respectively, about their vision, the company’s challenges and much more.

DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being a top executive of Scentsy?
Heidi: I enjoy helping create the new fragrances. That’s my favorite part.
Orville: I feel like I have thousands of friends.

DSN: What has been your greatest challenge?
Heidi: I am very uncomfortable being out in front public speaking, doing interviews—things like that make me really uncomfortable. It’s been a huge challenge for me. When we first started, I did the books, and I sat by myself in a room. Now, to do a convention, be onstage, that’s out of my comfort zone. I do it, but I still get nervous.
Orville: Keeping my ego in check. I don’t want to change, and it’s really hard not to change when you go from owning a failed biz that’s $700,000 in debt to being the CEO of the fastest-growing company in the industry. And everywhere you go, people say “Wow, that’s Orville Thompson.” I don’t want to be different, and it’s a challenge. But I’m OK with that challenge.

DSN: What’s been the most fun part of the job?
Heidi: The relationships and friendships I’ve formed and the fun we have every day. It’s fun to get up every morning and come to work. It’s addicting. Everybody is just amazing here.
Orville: Watching our vision come to life.

DSN: What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Heidi: Overcoming my fear of public speaking.
Orville: Building Scentsy without debt or investors.

DSN: What is your vision for Scentsy?
Heidi: To keep growing. Orville is an eternal optimist. I’m a realist. He’ll say things like, “I can’t believe how fast we’re growing.” I say, “I hope as fast as we’ve grown up that we don’t fall off the mountain.”
Orville: To be a shining example of goodness and opportunity inside and outside the industry.

DSN: Is there one basic principle that governs your leadership at Scentsy?
Heidi: Family. We have a family-friendly company. I feel that we’ve truly made it that. Employees are family. The field is family. I hope that any one of them could call me and talk to me. I’m like a sister or a mom. And I hope we’re building a company that allows them to spend more time with their families.
Orville: Contribute more than you take.

DSN: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Heidi: Your spouse is your best partner. Orville and I learned that together.
Orville: Your wife should be your only business partner. Becoming one with Heidi in business as well as in life allowed Scentsy to happen.

DSN: Which other direct selling company or person do you admire the most and why?
Heidi: Tastefully Simple and Jill Blashack Strahan. She’s someone who can make anybody feel special. She spent time talking with me. It was just a little conversation, but, still, it meant a lot. She has invited us to visit and tour their facility. When we started building Scentsy, I remember looking at Tastefully Simple and the culture they had built and admiring that.
Orville: I admire Doris Christopher. The people I admire are the ones who did new things, who contributed more to the industry than they took from it. Someone who takes someone else’s ideas and products and creates another business around it—I don’t have a lot of respect for them. But I have deep respect for people who have a new idea, make something of it, and contribute by being an example and innovating. I admire Doris Christopher for the way she built and ran Pampered Chef. It was both innovative and new, and it breathed life into the industry.

DSN: What do you see as our industry’s greatest challenge?
Heidi: The lack of innovation. There are so many ideas out there, and I sometimes feel that too many are focused on others’ ideas. Why would you want to copy somebody else? Come up with your own cool, innovative business.
Orville: Inauthenticity. Too much energy is wasted on trying to be something we’re not.

DSN: What do you like to do for fun?

Heidi: Scentsy is fun for me. But outside of Scentsy, I love to do genealogy—researching my family tree. Through learning about my family, I learned who I am.
Orville: Raising sheep. They were my first entrepreneurial experience as a 9-year-old.