Many small business owners started out the same way. They had an idea and the courage to see it through.
That courage is vital when venturing out into the business world alone – especially when that new business owner is a widow trying to support her family.
“When my husband died 21 years ago, I was left with no income,” said Barbara Vedros Romero.
To make a painful situation even more traumatic, just before he died, Richard Vedros asked his wife to help their daughter receive a Registered Nurse degree.
Barbara was working as an accounts payable supervisor at Gemoco at the time, but didn’t earn enough to put her daughter through college by herself.
“It was scary, but then I opened my Bible to Luke 12, ‘Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!’ I still live by that scripture today,” Barbara said.
Barbara had made her decision. She resigned from her job, purchased a consignment shop called The Penny Pincher, and began selling and trading used clothing.
But running the shop alone began to overwhelm her.
“It was a rough job so I asked the Lord what He wanted me to do with my life and He said, ‘Go out and teach the people about herbs. They know not what to do with them,'” she recalled.
Barbara was already a believer in the nutritional benefit of herbs and added a small display of Nature’s Sunshine products to her shop.
She began to learn more about natural remedies by attending manufacturer seminars and visiting the factory where the Nature’s Sunshine supplements are processed.
Barbara was impressed with the quality of the products and the fact they have the approval of NSF International.
NSF International is a non-profit, non-governmental group that inspects ingredients and production facilities in an effort to offer quality assurance.
The products proved so popular with her customers that she was soon able to leave the demanding consignment business.
She decided to move to West Park Avenue and start over, this time concentrating her business on herbs.
“I prayed about a new name and the Lord gave me ‘Heavenly Sent’; like He sent me all this from heaven,” Barbara said.
A friend volunteered to create a new sign but spelled sent “scent” by mistake.
“I know the name throws people off, but I’m not a person to break someone’s heart, so I left it as ‘scent,'” the shop owner said.
The new location didn’t turn out as well as Barbara had hoped it would, so once again she asked for Divine guidance.
“I said, ‘OK, Lord. If you want me to make it, you have to find me a spot on Tunnel,” she said.
After mass one day she learned a store at the corner of Tunnel Boulevard and St. Charles Street would be vacant soon.
“That location really put me on my feet,” Barbara said.
As Heavenly Scent’s business increased, so did its product line. The shelves quickly became stocked with fresh honey from Gray, cleanses and detox products, vegetarian meals, diet aids, aromatherapy essential oils, vitamins, probiotics, Circle E candles, and a vast array of products for ailments from acne to menopause.
Personal needs also contributed to the store’s inventory. Backaches from heavy lifting caused the shop owner to try Nikken Magnetics.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says magnets have been used for health purposes for centuries. They are marketed for pain control and are thought to be safe when applied to the skin.
Barbara and her assistant, Kay Waldron, endorse the products but warn they can interfere with pacemakers and defibrillators.
“We don’t tell people, ‘Don’t take medication. Take this instead.’ We tell them this is what’s worked for some people,” Waldron said.
“If you decide to get off your medication it’s your choice. We don’t tell people this is what you need to take,” Barbara added.
Heavenly Scent spent 10 years on Tunnel Boulevard until the building’s owner announced she needed more space.
“I started praying again for what God wanted me to do, and then I found this location (1437 St. Charles St.). It’s a wonderful location! I love it!” Barbara said.
The new store is decorated with local flea market finds and a painting of an angel by local artist, Hans Geist.
“I went to the flea market and found a Sacred Heart of Jesus painting. I said, ‘You’re coming with me, Jesus,'” Barbara said.
“Without Him, I would not be here. I took that leap of faith they always talk about in church, and He’s been by me and helped me ever since.”
Kay Waldron and owner Barbara Vedros Romero (right), of Heavenly Scent, have faith that their product line and new digs at 1437 St. Charles St. will attract locals seeking natural health care options. * Photo by JENNIE CHILDS