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By Mike Pickford
As she stood at the front of the room, grasping on to her shiny new award, Jackie Pritchard found herself literally lost for words as she struggled to contemplate what had just happened.
The scene was Mono Community Centre. A collection of the greatest entrepreneurial minds in the region had gathered to celebrate the annual Dufferin Board of Trade Business Excellence Awards. Ms. Pritchard, co-founder of the Shelburne-based Canadian Bath Bomb Company had, at least in her mind, tagged along just to make up the numbers having been nominated for Business of the Year: 10 or more Employees. She did not expect what happened next.
Frist, Canadian Bath Bomb Company was recognized for making top three in the category, beating out such established local businesses as Headwaters Racquet Club, Champ Burger and Hockley Valley Resort. Then, as a drum roll played out in her head, Ms. Pritchard heard those special words.
“And the winner is… Canadian Bath Bomb Company!”
From there, the rest is something of a blur for Jackie who still cannot believe her company came out on top almost a week later. Sitting down with the Free Press, she, along with her husband Neil, shared the company's remarkable rise from a simple stall at area Farmers' Markets to arguably the most promising new business in Dufferin County.
“A lot of hard work, a lot of stress and a lot of luck,” Jackie gladly admitted when pushed to reveal her recipe for success. “We spent a lot of time perfecting our product and a lot of time figuring out how to market it, how to get our name out there.”
In the end, it really did take a slice of luck to turn them in the right direction. A regular resident at the St. Jacob's Farmers Market, Jackie was one of only a few vendors to offer bath bombs to interested shoppers. Just as she did at similar Farmers' Markets in Bolton and Orangeville, Jackie worked on making connections and building her product within the local community. She spent approximately three years on the Farmers' Market scene before husband Neil came home one day in April of 2015 with some life changing news.
“I was let go from my company in Toronto. I was a computer programmer and my firm went through a management reshuffle, I quickly found myself on the outside,” Neil recalled.
And so, with no income and very little job prospects locally, Neil and Jackie decided to give the bath bomb business everything they had. They sold their home, got rid of their cars and practically everything else of value in their possession. Living the dream isn't cheap, as they say. They concentrated on building a business plan and putting it into action. A little more than a year later they had a store front in Shelburne and employees to help them along.
They had their product – one size and one shape of bath bomb, with more than 30 difference fragrance varieties. They planned special products and promotions for the holiday periods, particularly Christmas and Valentines Day. Before long they had outgrown that downtown location and moved out to their current site, on Industrial Road on the outskirts of town. There they have a front office and warehouse storage area, where they make, package and distribute the bath bombs.
“We got to the point where we had vans in all the time dropping off products and picking bombs up, we had to move somewhere where that was more feasible,” Jackie said. “We've been here now since March of 2017 and things are going great. We've grown now to the point that we have seven employees and we're making up to 2,000 bath bombs per day.”
That is a far cry from the level they were making the bath bombs at previously. The company though has had to ramp up production since it signed two significant wholesale contracts, first with the online site Giftcraft and then with Plato's Closet in the U.S. Now, well over two years into their permanent, full-time journey things are starting to look up for the pair.
“We just got a car back on the road now!” Jackie said. “We've had to make so many sacrifices in doing this. We basically haven't had a life for two plus years, but here we are today with a successful company that we totally own.”
“I think the most important thing for me is that we managed to sustain our growth over the past year without having to take any investment capital. That's massive because it means we've been able to get through the hard part without losing control,” Neil said.
And now, with a DBOT Business Excellence Award under their belt, the couple say they are committed to growing their business even more and seeing where this adventure takes them. One thing they promise, though is that it won't take them away from their roots right here in Shelburne.
“Shelburne is home. We've lived here for more than 15 years now after moving from the UK. I can't think of anyone else I'd prefer to be,” Jackie said. “We've got some fantastic employees here and this is where all of our roots are. Canadian Bath Bomb Company was born in Shelburne, so it would be very difficult to leave.”
While Jackie admits she was in a state of shock when her company's name was called at the DBOT awards ceremony, she believes herself and Neil are living proof that good things happen if you're willing to work for them.
“You don't need to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you don't need tens of thousands of dollars to back you up, because we had nothing. All we had was an idea and a passion to see it through,” Jackie said. “We have some plans for the future now. We want to continue getting our name out there. Visiting some big trade shows will help there. It's been a busy year, but we're hoping for a busier one in 2018.”
For more information canadianbathbomb.com.
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