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Scentsy and the Sweet Smell of Success A couple's last-ditch entrepreneurial effort fends off bankruptcy in favor of a balmy future.

By Margaret Littman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Orville Thompson admits that, at one time, he was "a hack entrepreneur." He sold a variety of wares at fairs and trade shows, but he wasn't prepared for the post-9/11 recession. Bills mounted. He told his wife, Heidi, that he was thinking of declaring bankruptcy.

Anxious to prevent this--and unwilling to leave their creditors high and dry--Heidi urged Orville to keep trying. He found his next great hope, Scentsy, at a home and garden show in March 2004 in Salt Lake City. The ceramic warmers scent rooms like a candle but without the risks of an open flame; instead they heat wax with a light bulb.

"I did not understand," Heidi remembers thinking when her husband called her from the road to tell her about it. "He was always bringing things home, and they ended up in the junk pile."