“You never try, you never get”: the story of Chesterfield’s Scented Love shop

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“I started at three o’clock in the morning. Couldn’t sleep. And I just googled something to do. Went out the next day and bought all the stuff.”

Kerry Rothwell, along with her partner of two years, Simon Carline, has opened a shop on the outside corner of the Chesterfield market hall. The shop is called Scented Love, and it sells, amongst other things, a range of handmade scented items for home and body.

The beginnings of this shop, and where Kerry is now, is a story of defiance, of can do, and the power of creativity. She tells of how all this started with making her own wax melts six years ago.

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“I was in domestic violence, and I got moved into a refuge. So me and my son started doing it in the refuge, just to keep us busy.”

Simon, Dylan, Kerry and Lilly of Scented Love, ChesterfieldSimon, Dylan, Kerry and Lilly of Scented Love, Chesterfield
Simon, Dylan, Kerry and Lilly of Scented Love, Chesterfield

Behind the shop counter, in her arms is baby Lilly. Wide-eyed and grinning, Lilly pats the counter with random beats as Kerry tells the story. By the counter, drinking pop from a flask printed with a picture of himself at a Sheffield Steelers game, is Dylan, helping in the shop during the school holiday. And of course, Dylan made the flask himself.

Kerry’s partner, Simon, adds to the story of Scented Love. “We had a shop at Bolsover before here. It was doing alright, but footfall wasn’t that good. It paid for itself. A bit of a wage. We was like ‘Well, what can we do? Do we pack in and just do it from home like we did at the beginning?’”

“There wasn’t much space in the other shop either,” Kerry says. “It was a bit small.”

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Simon continues. “We ended up finding this shop in Chesterfield. We did want the cobbler’s around the corner at first, but it was too small. Then they tempted us to go in the market hall, inside, which was a bit cheaper. Then this was up for rent. We looked at it, and we thought ‘Perfect. Great’.”

Simon and Kerry at Scented LoveSimon and Kerry at Scented Love
Simon and Kerry at Scented Love

Tenacity is definitely another word to add to this story. Kerry tells of how it feels to make, be it a wax melt, or an indie shop smack bang in the town centre: “When you’ve made it, and you see it all up, you go ‘Wow’.”

Simon nods. “When we first met I was working at Iceland delivering food. She was doing it from home, and I looked into it, making perfume and aftershave. Then we went onto soap sponges. Soap whips. Body washes.”

“We do it all upstairs,” says Simon, pointing to the steps in the corner of the shop. “So say a soap sponge, we get the fragrance, the colours. The soap comes in a massive block. We have to cut it down, say 200 grams. Melt it down. Put your fragrance in it. Dip your sponge in it, and that’s it.”

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Simon’s delivery of ‘and that’s it’ very probably sums up the vibe here. A humbleness of what they’ve achieved through hard work and self-belief, using all means to hand.

Scented Love, Chesterfield market hallScented Love, Chesterfield market hall
Scented Love, Chesterfield market hall

Kerry laughs as Simon tells of his first wax melt, made for Dylan. “I bought him a jelly from Tesco. A Peppa Pig jelly. It came in a plastic thing. So I thought ‘Right, I’m going to make him a wax melt with the mould’. That was the first wax that I made.”

Kerry nips out to get a new pushchair for Lilly from the flea market. Two ladies come into the shop. Simon guides them round, offering sniffs of various items. The ladies leave happy. Simon tells more of what they’ve made of this shop.

“It’s good for the kids as well. Upstairs, we’ve got a sofa up there, TV up there, table and chairs to eat, microwave, cooker, fridge… Then we’ve got two separate rooms. One room is where I make everything, the other is where Kerry makes everything.”

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Kerry returns, pushchair sorted. Lilly wafts her arms while Kerry keeps her balanced. The question is asked: what’s it like working together as a family? Kerry laughs. “Nightmare!”

Kerry and Simon with customersKerry and Simon with customers
Kerry and Simon with customers

Simon grins. “Some days we’re under each other’s feet. Kids, when they’re off school. But then we go home, and it’s…” Kerry cuts in: “Same!” More laughter. Simon looks to Kerry.

“I see Kerry as my best friend. It’s like working with a friend, plus partner, sort of thing. It can get stressful though. When we first made the shop, I’d have an idea, she’d have an idea…” Simon point to the racks in the middle of the shop.

“When we bought these big shelf things, she was like ‘We’ll have one here and one there’. And I was like ‘They’re not going to fit’…” Kerry shrugs, a wry smile on her face, the problem clearly solved.

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More customers come in, and more sniffing is done, more items bought. Simon underlines the benefit of this. “People buy online, but they don’t really know what they’re getting. But people are coming into the shop, opening it, having a smell of it, thinking ‘Wow, I’m having that’.”

Kerry laughs, points out an example: “Bum-bum cream and monkey farts!”.

“If you saw that online you’d think ‘Why would I want monkey farts?’” says Simon with a grin. “But it smells really fruity! Proper nice!”

Inside Scented LoveInside Scented Love
Inside Scented Love

From the seeds of Kerry’s 3am moment of empowerment six years ago, Scented Love is now a Chesterfield town centre shop, whose products are even being stocked by other shops.

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And what advice would this family give with their experience? Kerry: “Time and patience”. Simon: “Don’t give up”. Young Dylan smiles, says with a maturity well beyond his years: “You never try, you never get”.