By Justin Terry
The New Worcester Spy had the opportunity to get a closer look at one of Central Massachusetts’s up-and-coming small businesses. Established in February 2020, Jamie Lavin’s Simply Scrunch Co. is based just outside of Worcester County in her hometown of Stow, Massachusetts. Being only a short drive from the city, Lavin is no stranger to Worcester. Throughout her developing career as a small business owner, she has appeared at several city events such as StART on the Street. Lavin hopes for her hard work in both founding and growing her own store to act as an inspiration for other Worcester entrepreneurs alike to pursue their own business ventures. Despite the pandemic’s limitations, The Spy was able to get in touch with Jamie Lavin for a virtual Q&A session on her past experience and future as owner of Simply Scrunch Co
1) What products does Simply Scrunch Co. produce?
Lavin: I make hand-made greeting cards which feature my own photography. I also hand make organic cotton hair scrunchies and 100% soy candles.
2) If you had to choose, what is your favorite product you create/sell and why?
Lavin: If I had to choose, I would say the candles are my favorite. I love providing them to people knowing that they are toxin free and safe to burn. Additionally, the candles have connected me with many small business owners who I get to collaborate with regularly and have brought new friendships into my life.
3) What motivated you to start your own business?
Lavin: I have always wanted to have my own business and be my own boss. Before Simply Scrunch was founded, I was JL Photography. When the pandemic hit, I was laid off from my job. I used that time to expand and create what I now call Simply Scrunch Co.
4) Did you have any worries when you first started your business? Do you have any concerns today?
Lavin: Since I started my business right before the pandemic hit, I was worried about how that would affect my business, but it was a great opportunity for growth and expansion.
5) What does a day in the life running your small business look like?
Lavin: I currently still have a part time job that I do in addition to my small business. When I leave work, I take care of many different aspects of Simply Scrunch. I manage inventory, and place orders for supplies I will need to meet the demand of upcoming pop-ups, fairs, and orders. I regularly upload content to social media to update my audience of what I have in stock, promote events, and set up polls to make decisions based on customer feedback. I am also constantly finding new and exciting ways to improve my products.
6) What is your favorite part about owning/managing your own business (or what is the most rewarding part about having your own business?)
Lavin: The most rewarding part of having my own business is knowing I am providing people with quality handmade items. One reason I enjoy doing pop-ups and fairs so much is being able to see peoples faces and the smiles my products bring them.
7) What prompted your business’s evolution from photography to its current state?
Lavin: I have been doing craft fairs for six years now with just my photography. I started to notice that, as phone cameras and filters improved, people’s interest in my photography was decreasing. I have always wanted to make candles and scrunchies, and when I had a bunch of free time after getting laid off, I turned it into an opportunity to learn. However, I do still sell my greeting cards and prints because it adds to the gift shop feel that is my store.
8) What is the most challenging aspect of what you do?
Lavin: The hardest part is trying to anticipate which products people are going to want to purchase. For example, when I am choosing fragrances for my candles, I cannot just pick what I like the best. I must make sure I have something for everyone to enjoy. Sometimes I use social media polls to allow customers to pick out specific scents.
9) Has the pandemic challenged your business? If so, how? Has there been any positive impacts to your business that could be linked to the pandemic?
Lavin: Honestly, Simply Scrunch Co. would not be here today if it were not for the pandemic because that is what pushed me to start everything. One of the biggest challenges was having to rely solely on ecommerce sales since I did not have any in person venues to use.
10) Are you partnered with any other businesses or groups?
Lavin: I am partnered with Honey Pot Hill orchards in Stow MA. During the fall season, they set up a table with my candles, greeting cards, and assorted flannel scrunchies. I am also partnered with Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley ME. They have a collection of candles that are all named after their most popular ski trails. They also have a line of scrunchies that have their logo custom designed for them. Another business I am partnered with is XO Bakery in Buxton ME. She asked to collaborate with me, and now sells her most popular baked goods in the form of candles with original custom-made labels. She also had custom scrunchies made with her logo on them. You can find my candles in other small businesses around the Massachusetts area.
11) Did you receive any assistance starting Simply Scrunch Co. and do you run it by yourself today?
Lavin: I received a lot of support from friends and family when I decided to expand. My fiancé, Ryan, helps make the candles and scrunchies due to the large orders we have been getting.
12) Was there a time/moment you realized your business was something you wanted to pursue? What drives you today?
Lavin: When I was still JL Photography, I was having a hard time figuring out how to make this a full-time job. Once I expanded, I realized this is something I can do for a long time to come.
13) How do you advertise/market Simply Scrunch Co.?
Lavin: Most of my marketing is through word of mouth from happy customers, some being people who previously picked up my products from one of the stores they are in. I use Facebook, Instagram, and email marketing to spread word about events and new products.
14) [pre-pandemic] How many events does Simply Scrunch Co. attend per year?
Lavin: I was only able to attend two fairs as Simply Scrunch Co. before the pandemic candled them. But I usually try to attend 5-to-10 events per year. With pop-ups I will be reaching that goal this year.
15) Are there any events you attended that were more memorable than others? Why?
Lavin: My most memorable craft fair was the first one I did in Rangeley ME as Simply Scrunch Co because I almost sold out of candles and scrunchies that day.
16) Has Simply Scrunch Co. been at any events in Worcester? If so, which ones? Can students expect to find your shop in Worcester in the future?
Lavin: I have done several events in Worcester as JL Photography. I have done Start on the Street for many years and a few small fairs at Ralph’s Rock Diner. I hope that Start on the Street will happen again soon so I can be there for the first time as Simply Scrunch.
17) Is there any advice you could offer for those who would like to start their own business?
Lavin: A lot of people recently have been telling me that they would love to start a small business and my response is always, “Do what makes you happy, and if starting your own business is what makes you happy then it is worth the risk.” I also want people to know criticism is not a bad thing, because you can take what they say and improve your business.
18) If you could go back in time to when you first started your business what advice would you give yourself? Is there anything you would do differently?
Lavin: I do not know if I would do anything differently because all my experiences leading up until now have prepared me to be the best business owner I can be. The best advice I would give myself is do not let small obstacles cause you to doubt yourself and make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.
19) What are some traits you think are important for a small business owner to have?
Lavin: It is important for a small business owner to be friendly and outgoing. Craft fairs have helped me be more outgoing and I think they are a great opportunity to connect with people and to meet the people who purchase your items.
20) Any exciting recent developments/new additions to your business you’d like to share?
Lavin: CHEESE BOARDS! Recently I have been getting into resin art. I have been making cheese boards with dried fruit and flowers. I have also been experimenting with hair combs that would go great with the scrunchies. April 1st I will be launching a monthly Scrunchbox, that will include assorted candles and scrunchies, that people can subscribe to and will get one every month.
21) What are your goals for the future of Simply Scrunch Co.?
Lavin: One day I hope to make Simply Scrunch a full-time job and have a storefront where I can sell all these items in person.
Students can find Simply Scrunch Co. at the following upcoming events:
· Sunday April 11th – Saddleback Mountain Craft Fair in Rangeley ME (10AM-2PM)
· Saturday April 17th – Pop-up at Native Sun Wellness in Hudson MA
· Sunday April 18th – Pop-up at Lavin’s Liquors in Wayland MA (12-5PM)
· Sunday April 25th – Pop-up at Lavin’s Liquors in Wayland MA (12-6 PM)
· Saturday July 3rd – Rangeley Lakes 3rd of July Arts and Crafts Show Rangeley ME (10AM – 4PM)
· All events can be found on my Facebook page along with additional details.
To learn more about these events, support Simply Scrunch Co., and to stay updated on new products visit: