Starting a business and raising two children while being a single mother is no small feat. That, however, is exactly what Dawn Pottier of Lulujo Baby is doing. Over the last few months, this highly focused entrepreneur has received a lot of recognition, including being named one of Profit Guide’s 2016 W100, their list of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs.
ONB had a chance to talk to Dawn and get her insights on what entrepreneurs—female entrepreneurs in particular—need to do in order to succeed. Her energy alone is enough to inspire any entrepreneur and she demonstrates that inspiration often comes from unplanned experiences.
ONB: Tell us about Lulujo and what inspired you to start the business?
Pottier: Lulujo Baby was really an inspiration that emerged after making my own ring sling out of necessity, while on maternity leave. As an IT project manager, it wasn’t something that I originally set out to do, but when I realized that slings, as well as wrap carriers and blankets, were items that other mothers were looking for, I realized I had something. The following year I launched Lulujo Baby across Canada, and by 2012 our products were available in retail locations nationwide. Today we are exporting to approximately 30 countries.
Where did the name come from?
The name is actually based on nicknames I had for my two children when they were young; I combined them to make the name. It is definitely original and serves as a reminder of my two greatest inspirations.
You aren’t originally from New Brunswick. What brought and kept you here?
I am originally from Nova Scotia and was offered a job in New Brunswick in 1999. I agreed to move for a year, but then planned to return; obviously, that plan changed. One year became two, two became three and now this is home for me and the kids. This is one of the most embracing communities I know.
It’s interesting you mention the community here in New Brunswick. Tell us more about that from a business perspective. Is it the same?
Absolutely! The entire New Brunswick community—business and personal—has really embraced our business. This is something that I really noticed, particularly being a single mom. From customers to other business owners to government, there is a real desire from others to see people succeed here.
As a newer business, I learned a lot from others who were willing to share — everything from finding the right employees to hiring the right graphic artists and everything in between.
If someone asked you right now if starting a business in New Brunswick is a good idea, what would you say?
When I speak to people who are thinking about starting a business here, I definitely encourage them to do it and do it here. This is where you find the brightest minds and the most authentic and genuine people you will ever want. On top of all of that, you will be fully supported and that is what will help you grow.
It is clear that you are focused, work with a purpose and know what you want. If we asked you what your top five tips are for female entrepreneurs, what would you say?
I have certainly learned a lot over the last few years: and yes, I am very focused. You have to be. That would be my first tip:
1: Stay focused. Every day there is a new challenge or a new obstacle – whether at home or at work, you just need to remember your vision and what the end goal is.
2: Find a way around the obstacles. Many days you will come up to a wall/challenge. Most times I have no idea how to get around these. But we figure it out. Be creative and find a way. Keep your eye on the vision, get around that obstacle and keep going.
3: Be real. Forge genuine connections with people inside and outside your industry. Our business has grown a great deal simply because of great relationships with the people we have met.
4: Take Risks. I don’t look at risk the way other people do. When you are an entrepreneur, you go in feeling like success is the only option. Sometimes risk has to be involved if you want to see the payoff in the end.
5: Don’t start a business for the money. If you are in the game solely for the money, you will end up disappointed. Most seasoned entrepreneurs will tell you money is usually the last thing to come. Be happy when it does, but be patient.
I would also add that having a great support system at home is critical. You will need an outlet as you are working 24/7 while still supporting a family. Having the support of your community is essential. People often focus only on the entrepreneur, but really, there are a lot of people that go into making a successful entrepreneur.
Written by Heather MacLean