On Thursday evenings from 8 to 9pm ET, IBN hosts #HandmadeChat, a Twitter talk show to help handmade entrepreneurs sell more products, have more fun, and be more successful personally and professionally. While the show is aimed mainly at business owners who make and sell handmade consumer products, the topics and discussions can empower and encourage the growth of any small business.
Yesterday's chat was sponsored by SoapEquipment.com, soapmaking cutters, mixers and equipment to help your business grow!
Our most recent guest was Dawn Fitch, Founder and CEO of Pooka Pure and Simple. Dawn is a sought after speaker who has bootstrapped her business from nothing to being featured on the nationally syndicated Michael Basiden Show and CBS Evening News. Her products have been featured in nearly every major women's magazine and her gorgeous smile graced the cover of Black Enterprise Magazine in the March 2012 issue. In our chat, Dawn discussed her best media outreach and publishing tips, as well as what she does to keep her business and her self going strong.
Q1 WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS, POOKA PURE AND SIMPLE?
I had become ill, and after no diagnosis, I adopted a healthier lifestyle, which included changing my diet and the personal care products I used. I became an avid label reader and didn't like a lot of what I saw, so I began to make my own cosmetics. Lo and behold, people started buying them, and Pooka Pure and Simple was born.
The name “Pooka” is inspired by my mom, who used to call us her little “Pookalitas!
Q2 DESPITE HEALTH ISSUES, POOKA IS STRONG … SHARE YOUR TIPS FOR HANDLING HEALTH CHALLENGES?
When you're running a business you need to listen to your body and get the rest you need, don't push it! Also plan your meals. I always make sure I have my lunch and snacks, whether I'm at the office or working from home.
You need a good support team and employees who can work in your business so you can work on it.
Q3 YOU RUN POOKA WITH FAMILY MEMBERS – WHAT SHOULD WE CONSIDER BEFORE GOING INTO BIZ WITH FAMILY?
Make sure that you are on the same page and have the same overall goals for the direction of your business. Communication is key, so choose partners (family or not) that you’re able to talk to, whether it’s good or bad. A partnership agreement (or other appropriate business agreement) is critical and can can save friendships if things don’t go as planned.
Make sure you and your partners are like-minded. That doesn't mean you'll agree on everything, but you do need to agree on basic business foundational issue. You will be spending loads of time with your partners, so make sure they’re people you actually enjoy being around.
Q4 YOU'VE LANDED LOTS OF MEDIA ATTENTION USING SOCIAL MEDIA – WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS?
Social Media is zero cost marketing that you simply must embrace. Here are some tips:
1. Choose platforms that are relevant to your business and that you will be able to and enjoy maintain. You don’t have to join everything, It’s better to do thrive on a few platforms, than to have bunches of them that are ghost towns.
2. Develop a social media system to maximize your time.
3. Share interesting, interactive content so you fan base can help spread the fun.
4. Follow publications, media outlets and magazines you want to be featured in. They are always looking for sources. My Black Enterprise cover shoot was a direct result of my answering a reporter's Tweet. I traded 140 characters and a few minutes of my time for publicity that will last a lifetime.
5. I use Facebook as well to share contets and fun events we host at Pooka Boutique.
Q5 HOW DO YOU USE AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
We've been collecting emails since we started. We collect them everywhere we go so we are never without a way to connect with our customers. We now have over 5,000 people in our database and we send them a weekly newsletter outlining all the fun things that are happening with Pooka, and our sales and specials. We direct traffic to our social media sites as well. Our newsletter always results in an uptick in likes, fans, followers, and sales.
Bottom line: publish an email newsletter regularly.
Q6 WHAT IS OUR BIGGEST ENTREPRENEURIAL CHALLENGE, AND HOW DO YOU OVERCOME IT?
Cash flow can always be an issue for small businesses. You have to study and learn the predictable trends and cycles in your business to make sure you know what's coming. Managing the slow and busy seasons so you can spend and not spend appropriately is critical and helps you remain prepared for anything at all times.
Q7 WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SMALL BUSINESS BOOKS, AND WHY DO YOU RECOMMEND THEM?
The first book I read when I wanted to start making products was Making Aromatherapy Creams and Lotions by Donna Maria. I keep this on my bookshelf as a reference whenever I need some product making advice.
Another favorite is The E-Myth by Michael Gerber — this is one of the best business books out there. Read it. All of it.
Q8 WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS, AND HOW DO THEY HELP YOUR BUSINESS GROW?
Definitely Donna Maria is a mentor who helped me take my business from the kitchen to the shelves of Whole Foods Market. Cathy Hughes of Radio One has been very generous with her time, offering us tips and ideas for continued strong and solid growth. Lisa Price of Carol's Daughter is a pioneer, and I’ve enjoy seeing her huge successes. She mentors me and doesn't know it. (Yet.) She’s opened doors for so many of us in this industry.
Q9 WHAT ARE YOUR TOP BEST SELLING PRODUCTS AND WHY DO PEOPLE LOVE THEM?
Our top 3 would be our Cocoa Baby, people love it as an all over rich moisturizer, and it’s fragrance free. Our hair butter is a great scalp and hair moisturizer with essential oils, and it's always been a big seller for us. Our sugar body polish is also a hit too, with use rich coconut oil, with fruit powders and organic seeds for an amazing exfoliation experience!
Q10 WHAT ARE YOUR BIG PLANS FOR POOKA IN 2013?
We just celebrated one year in our boutique and it was a blast! Our focus for 2013 is to continue offering great products and events at the boutique. We received awesome press in 2012, and we expect that to continue this year. We have some great events and launches coming up in 2013 and possibly a new southern location. We'll also introduce more products — can't share the juicy details yet; follow us to stay tuned!
Q11 AT IBN, WE STRIVE TO BE A SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS RESOURCE. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE JOIN ORGANIZATION LIKE IBN?
If you are serious about turning your hobby into a full fledged business you are going to need support — IBN IS that support and more. I’ve been a member since I started Pooka, and the resources have been amazing. I still don’t know how Donna Maria does it all, running IBN and giving members personal attention whenever we need it.
More About Dawn Fitch
Dawn has been a member of IBN since April 2005.
Combining her love for aromatherapy and the need to take better care of herself, Dawn began creating her own bath and body products. Just for fun, she took a few of her hand made products to sell at a local festival and sold out! The response was tremendous. That’s when the realization hit that she had an incredible business idea and Pooka was born.
Since those humble beginnings, Dawn has grown Pooka into a successful venture that includes a retail store and live parties for people lucky enough to live in the Orange, New Jersey, area. Dawn and her products have been featured in dozens of magazines and television news and entrepreneurial shows.
When Is The Next #HandmadeChat?
The next #HandmadeChat will be Thursday, January 10, 2013, at 8pm ET, with Cindy Jones, PhD of Sagescript and Colorado Aromatics, Longmont, Colorado. Cindy leads Sagescript Institute, a farm-based cosmetics science company that offers formulating, microbiology, private label, bulk bases and herbs and herb extracts to small cosmetics companies. Situated on her Colorado herb farm, Cindy also creates the Colorado Aromatics brand of skin care products.
On this #Handmadechat, Cindy will share her commentary on the importance of plant-based skincare, and how you can use natural ingredients to maintain skin health.
Take the #HandmadeChat Survey so we can make #HandmadeChat even better!
Follow #HandmadeChat on Twitter.