After more than a half-century of business experience, Norman Feinstein has an eye for a promising business idea.
Or, more accurately, a nose for one.
An insurance broker by trade, the 86-year-old is teaming with his former neighbors on a product made more timely by the pandemic — the ScentClip, a tiny clip-on essential-oil reservoir that attaches to the outside or inside of a mask, making the mask-wearing experience more pleasant.
So, how did this partnership come about?
The story goes back about 20 years, Feinstein said, when his late wife Harriet, who was a builder, constructed a home on a neighboring lot in Wynnewood. Young medical professionals Mark and Deb Pizzini bought the house. The Feinsteins and Pizzinis became friends.
A few years back, Mark Pizzini, who is an anesthesiologist, was tinkering with scent products. Harriet Feinstein, who by then was ill, liked the scents, which also made her feel better.
Mark Pizzini also noticed members of his surgical team concealing bad smells by smearing local anesthetic mint lidocaine into their masks. The practice worked, but members couldn’t feel their lips afterward.
“There really was not a good solution for it,” he said. “I thought there had to be something better than this.”
Meantime, recovery room nurses began using essential oils as aromatherapy to soothe nauseous and anxious patients.
Pizzini put two and two together and began developing ScentClip with the idea that operating staff could cover up bad smells while simultaneously benefiting from aromatherapy. It took five years to develop the product. The scent in each clip is designed to last for days to weeks.
About a year ago, Feinstein became more involved, becoming an investor and partner in the project, not to mention its primary manager. Given that his daughter was handling the lion’s share of his brokerage firm Corporate Consultants, he felt he had time to spare to run the parent company, which is called Aroxel.
“I said, ‘I’m looking for something to do,’” he said, adding that he also is director of internet security company Cymatic. “I’ll run this.”
The project has proven challenging for Feinstein, especially the manufacturing part.
“Just to get it produced was and still is difficult,” he said. “It was totally frustrating not to get our manufacturing done sooner.”
But things now seem to be falling into place, with full-fledged production slated in the next week – and seemingly no competitors.
“We have a blue ocean out there,” Mark Pizzini said.
ScentClip launched on Kickstarter on Sept. 30, seeking $2,500. As of Oct. 5, $3,526 was pledged. The goal is to have ScentClips available on Amazon later in the fall. For now, the two scents available are periwinkle lavender and apple orchard, although up to a dozen are planned.
The goal now is marketing, which is definitely a family affair for both the Feinsteins (a cousin is assisting) and the Pizzinis, whose 20-something daughters Maria and Anne (as well as a cousin) are handling social media.
“We have a wonderful team with three generations,” said Feinstein, who has since remarried, had a joint second bar-bat mitzvah with wife Marlene at Temple Shalom in Broomall and now splits his time between Newtown Square and Florida. “We all get along really well.”
Deb Pizzini said Feinstein is the key to it all.
“Norman is keeping this project moving along,” she said. “Norman is the driver on the team.”
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