3 lessons for new sellers from Denise Sung of Watex

Denise Sung started her vertical garden company Watex by first scoping interest in her product. Find out what inspired Denise to launch her own business, how she built it by gauging market interest, and her advice for new sellers.

In 2017, Denise Sung started Watex, which creates gardening products designed for small spaces made with recycled materials. Their products include vertical gardens that require minimal ground space and self-standing planters that don’t need permanent wall mountings.

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.

A "living wall" of 32 separate pots all attached to a back board with succulents in each one. The succulents are varying colors of bright, lime green, purple, yellow, red, and maroon.

Denise Sung created the Watex Green Wall as her first product and tested market interest by selling in Amazon’s store.

“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,” Denise says. “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.”

Testing an idea on a budget

Because Denise didn’t have the resources for market research, she listed only one product at first—the Watex mobile green wall—to test customer 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.

Did you know?
You can find product ideas through Product Opportunity Explorer
Product Opportunity Explorer is a tool Amazon sellers can use to identify seasonal trends, unmet customer demand, and untapped niches, to help guide decisions about what products to sell within a given category.
Denise Sung wears a black tank dress with belted, her hair is up in a ponytail and she's smiling at the camera while she sits on an outdoor table. In front of her is her husky dog, and one of Watex's small garden beds that she is filling with plants.

Denise Sung fills one of Watex’s garden beds, which is perfect for small spaces.

Handling hurdles as a new brand

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.”

Below, Denise shares three lessons she’s learned as a small business owner navigating both personal and professional growth.

1. Don’t take yourself too seriously

“I always joke with my friends that doing business is like dating,” she says. “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, 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.”

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Laila Kazmi
Laila Kazmi
Laila Kazmi is a Senior Content Manager and Producer at Amazon’s Selling Partner Communities & Satisfaction, where she writes, produces, and directs video and short documentary projects highlighting stories of Amazon sellers. She is a two-time regional Emmy® Award winner and six-time nominee.
Lola Okusami
Lola Okusami
Sr. Creative Writer