From Small Town Nova Scotia to the World with Lulujo
Even as a young girl growing up in Belleville, a small community about a 20-minute drive from Yarmouth, NS, Dawn Marie Pottier loved the world of business. “I was always interested in anything to do with business. I would use Monopoly money and play bank for hours when I was little.”
Sobey School of Business & International Experience
Attending Saint Mary’s University’s business school was a good fit for those dreams. Dawn especially enjoyed the international focus and the opportunities to take her education on the road. In 1995, in her third year, she studied in Mexico—just shortly after the North American Free Trade Agreement had come into effect. “It was an exciting time to be in the country,” she says. “I learned so much that semester. It opened my eyes to a world of possibilities.”
Following graduation, Dawn worked at Innovatia, a subsidiary of Bell Aliant, employment that eventually took her to Fredericton, NB. She liked the job but her childhood dream of being an entrepreneur was still percolating.
The birth of Lulujo baby products
In 2009, while on maternity leave with her second child, Dawn was doing some sewing and came up with the idea for a line of high quality baby care products. The business combined her love of sewing with babies, which were of course top of mind for her in those days.
She named it “lulujo” (family nicknames for her two children) and started with just one product—a muslin cotton baby wrap for newborns. It was a huge hit and retains its status as one of her top sellers. Dawn gradually added more baby products, such as organic cotton wash cloths, bamboo muslin wraps, and baby blankets.
In less than five years, sales have skyrocketed. Lulujo baby products are now sold in more than 800 stores across Canada, and are also being shipped to the United States, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Ireland, Eastern Europe, and soon Australia.
Looking back, Dawn says it was often gruelling work. With two young children to care for during the day, she spent countless late nights designing, sewing, and packaging her products. Her business degree had prepared her well for entering the world of business but starting her own company from the ground up still involved a lot of research, and good old-fashioned grunt work.
“I never doubted that it would work; in fact, I always knew that it would. My biggest concern was that I understood the amount of work ahead of me,” Dawn says. “I started small but I knew that if it was going to be a real business, it couldn’t be me sewing in my basement until 3 a.m.” To that end, she spread the word of her products at trade shows and eventually took out a loan to expand.
Dawn says her strong work ethic comes naturally, and is one of her greatest strengths. “Perseverance always makes the difference. I learned that growing up. My whole family is made up of really hard workers.”
This diligence has paid off as her revenue figures have tripled. Accolades have followed—through award nominations and invitations to speak at regional conferences and events.
“Now that the company is established, I want to give back and help other people interested in starting a business. That would be very satisfying for me.”