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“Had I never gotten sick, I would have never started a business,” says Dawn Fitch. Created in 2002, Pooka Inc. manufactures handmade bath and body products without preservatives. Believing only the purest ingredients should go on your body, Fitch is enjoying the fruits of her labor. The East Orange, New Jersey-based company generated revenues of $398,000 for 2006 and Fitch projects 2007 sales to reach $750,000.
Fitch, 40, started the company following her diagnosis with hypoglycemia, where the body’s blood sugar levels drop to the point that it can cause sweating, trembling, hunger or dizziness. In adopting a healthy regime to counter the effects of her condition, Fitch decided to take care of herself inside and out. In addition to altering her diet, Fitch began making her own body products. After receiving rave reviews, and with the help of a $30,000 investment from family and friends, Pooka Inc. was officially born. The name, a variation of “Pookalitas,” is a term of endearment Fitch’s mother calls her children.
Fitch attributes the company’s growth to a highly supportive staff that includes her sister, Donna Lynn, who is vice president of business management, as well as two close friends: Tricia Akinwande, VP of finance; and April Reeves-Mathis, vp of sales, marketing and public relations.
Although Pooka Inc. has only five full-time employees, Fitch says about 14 family members and friends volunteer to help.
“Our greatest challenge is constantly keeping up with the larger companies, who have marketing, sales, and PR staffs,” says Fitch. “We are doing most of this ourselves. Working capital is always a struggle.”
Teamwork solved another struggle. In 2006, Fitch was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. For about eight months she experienced numbness in her arms, leaving orders to be filled by others, including her parents. Today, Fitch’s health is stable and she primarily treats her condition with holistic medicine.
Today, Pooka Inc’s products are sold in 26 Whole Foods Market stores as well as boutiques, spas, and hair salons in several states. The company also fulfills overseas orders generated via the Web. And Pooka Inc. aggressively targets the wholesale market for the bulk of its generated revenues. As a result, the company has seen revenues increase by 45% in 11 months.
Fitch anticipates reaching the $1 million mark in sales by 2008 due to the launch of product lines for babies and girls and her self-published book, Moving Through Opened Doors, which will be sold via Pooka’s Website.
Although Pooka Inc. was created during an uncertain time for Fitch’s health, she anticipates a bright future for the company and admits it afforded her the opportunity to cope with the fear of the unknown.
Pooka Pure & Simple; 364 Glenwood Ave., 3rd Floor East, East Orange, NJ 07017; 973-954-2471; www.pookapureandsimple.com