When Denise Sung moved to a small city apartment from the countryside, she wasn’t prepared for the lack of nature or greenery. That experience inspired her to found Watex, a company that creates vertical gardens and self-standing planters made out of recycled materials for urban dwellers with limited space.
In 2017, Denise Sung started her business, Watex, which creates innovative gardening products for people living in small spaces. But because she didn’t have the resources for market research, she listed only one product at first—the Watex mobile green wall—to test consumer interest in Amazon’s store. As soon as she did, she began receiving sales, feedback, and questions from customers. That’s when Denise knew she was onto something special.
Denise’s inspiration for starting Watex came from a childhood spent in Taiwan’s countryside, where she had access to fresh, organic produce from her late uncle’s vegetable garden. Later, while living in Sydney, Australia with two roommates, she came to realize the significance of not having a backyard. She only had a small balcony to work with and quickly recognized the importance of young people having the opportunity to grow their own fresh produce, regardless of space.
Watex specializes in gardening products designed for small spaces. Their products include vertical gardens that require minimal ground space and self-standing planters that don’t require permanent mounting on walls. These products are made with recycled materials and enable renters and other urban dwellers to grow plants without taking up too much space in their homes.
“I love plants, I love nature,” Denise says. “And I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town, surrounded by nature. I think it’s very important for a busy urban city [resident] like myself to still continue to connect to nature and grow vegetables and fruits at home. It not only is a fun activity, it’s also beneficial to our well-being. And studies have shown that plants help to reduce stress levels and improve productivity.”
Like many small business owners, Denise has dealt with issues that come with running a seasonal business, such as cash flow. She manages it by being mindful of her budget and offering new products such as greenhouses and indoor planters for when it’s too cold to garden outdoors.
“I have a lot of ideas, and I know that gardening will become more and more popular [among young people],” she says. “Because I think that most people nowadays work from home, and they have more time to do these types of activities. So I’m very optimistic, because everybody loves plants, and unfortunately… not everyone has the privilege to own a backyard. So small-space gardening will become more popular.”
One of Denise’s biggest moments came in 2019 when Amazon announced the first-ever Small Business Spotlight Awards. She was named one of six finalists in the Small Business Owner Under 30 of the Year category.
“As a seller, we are trying to promote ourselves,” she says. “I’m grateful because Amazon really gives small business owners an opportunity to present their brand and have their products in a store like Amazon.”
Denise shares three lessons she’s learned as a small business owner navigating both personal and professional growth in her twenties:
1. Don’t take yourself too seriously
“I’ve learned as an entrepreneur and as a human being that we’re constantly learning,” Denise says. She knows there’s no way to know everything. So, her first lesson is not to take yourself too seriously. “I always joke with my friends that doing business is like dating. Don’t have high expectations because sometimes you can invest time and money into someone or a client, but it may not work out. That’s just part of the journey and the experience.”
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Nowadays, Denise is willing to ask anyone, any question. But, she shares it wasn’t always that way:
It’s impossible to know everything. When I started my business, I was young, in my twenties, and afraid to ask questions because I thought it meant that I looked like I didn’t know anything. But looking back, I wish I was braver and more willing to ask for help. There are so many people out there who are willing to lend a hand.
3. Health is a priority
Denise knows that at the end of the day, our health is a priority both physically and mentally. “Don’t forget self-care and self-love. Without good health, nothing else matters,” she says. “It’s essential to put yourself first and take breaks when you’ve been working hard. Spend time with loved ones, as well.”
Small Business, Big Moments is our new series, where we talk to Amazon selling partners about overcoming challenges and learning lessons in their entrepreneurial journey.