Online Exclusives

Scents of Opportunity

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | April 10, 2017

Industry veteran Rick Ruffolo takes over as CEO at growing fragrance brand Enviroscent.

With a quarter of century, more or less, spent in the home fragrance sector, Rick Ruffolo has seen, smelled and lead some of the biggest brands in the category. His newest post puts him at the helm of a much small player—Enviroscent, a growing Atlanta-based home fragrance company that is looking to expand further by leading the way in the healthy living home fragrance option.
 
Earlier in his career, Ruffolo led innovation, brand development and global marketing efforts at Yankee Candle, Bath & Body Works and SC Johnson. He is credited with re-staging and growing the Yankee Candle brand, developing, patenting and launching the Wallflowers electric home fragrance line at Bath & Body Works and spearheading the global rollout of the Glade Candles brand in 1996.
 
Ruffolohad been an advisory board member for Enviroscent for approximately five years before coming on board as CEO and president.
 
It was the technology and positioning drew him into this more active role within the company’s day-to-day operations.
 
“The kinds of things they are doing here are different,” he told Happi during a phone interview soon after entering the c-suite.
 
“The fragrance experience is better through the delivery system they have created, Ruffolo said.
 
Enviroscent has 20 patents around its delivery method and ways to optimize that delivery, according to Ruffolo. The firm’s air care products do not use solvents, which are common in the category.
 
“The products are pure fragrance—no solvents,” boasted Ruffolo.  “We have been able to develop a pure fragrance experience. Perfumers love it, because solvents have base odor, and there’s no masking going on…”
 
The products that Enviroscent is best known for are ScentSicles, scented ornaments designed to be used with holiday décor—think, the artificial tree that could use some fragrance to make it seem more like the real deal. For example, ScentSicle’s White Winter Fir variant is said to capture the essence of a fresh-cut Douglas fir, the most popular Christmas tree.
 
Mainly a seasonal product, ScentSicles, which are made from all-natural, biodegradable, compostable, sustainably managed paper infused with fragrance that lasts up to 30 days, have been released by Enviroscent for the past seven years. The line can now be found at 40,000-50,000 major retail outlets across the country around the holiday season.
 
The eco/natural nature of Enviroscent products falls in step with the growing trend of healthy living, insist company officials. The firm incorporates environmentally-friendly practices from product to packaging and shipping, using biodegradable, recyclable, compostable and sustainable paper, and infuses pure essential oils and other responsibly-selected ingredients into all product offerings.
 
Ruffolo described Enviroscent as a “mid-size” firm—and industry estimates place company sales around $50 million a year.
 
Those numbers could rise quickly as the firm gains  traction in a new area: automotive air care. According to Ruffolo, Enviroscent has “interpreted” the scent stick from ScentSicles into a product that is designed to hang from the car’s rear-view mirror. And a new vent clip is in the pipeline.
 
“Our auto business is in the passing lane right now,” he quipped, noting that the firm is extending its distribution to the automotive aftermarket channel at places like O’Reilly’s and Advanced Auto parts.
 
According to the Ruffolo, consumers are responding to a more eco-minded, safer scenting option for their cars.
 
“That’s an enclosed space. Our healthy living story is so much on point for the car category,” he said.
 
Enviroscent is expanding its presence in home air care, too, and is reaching out to bloggers to drive awareness. In fact, it brought several “healthy living space” influencers to Atlanta for a full brand immersion and to showcase its new Burst product line. These "wax melt" alternatives last longer and start faster, and what’s key is that they are easier to clean up because they don't actually melt. When the Bursts are spent, users simply toss them in with the compost. Bursts, which come in scents including Amber Woods, Wild Lavender and True Cotton, work with most electronic warmers but can also be used in bowls like potpourri.
 
It is no surprise what are the biggest challenges Enviroscent faces—scale and shelf space, according to Ruffolo. But this industry veteran is optimistic about the prospects, telling Happi that the vast majority of retailer buyers “get what we are doing.”
                                                                                                           
“Yankee Candle, Febreze—they are great brands doing well in what they do. But they bump up against each other,” he said. “We have a different approach…Buyers see that it is worth investing in.”
   

Related End-User Markets: