Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dawn Dallaire, CEO of Clearly Fun Soap Inc. Is Georgia’s 2008 Small Business Person of the Year

Pictured (l-r) are Adrienne Sipe, Chairperson of the Georgia Lenders Quality Circle, Dawn Dallaire, and Terri Denison, SBA Georgia District Director

Dawn Dallaire, CEO of Clearly Fun Soap Inc., has been selected the 2008 Small Business of the Year in Georgia by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Based in Griffin, Georgia, Dallaire started her company five years ago with $47,000 in annual revenues. After reaching sales of $1.8 million in 2006, she is projecting revenues of nearly $3 million this year with a growing customer list that is nationwide and into eight foreign countries.

Dallaire will receive her statewide award from Terri Denison, SBA Georgia District Director, at an Atlanta luncheon on May 22 that is hosted by the Georgia Lenders Quality Circle. She was nominated for the statewide SBA award by the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center at Clayton State University.

With her two children nearing their teens, Ms. Dallaire started her business, Clearly Fun Soap, on her kitchen table in Fayetteville as a way to earn extra money.

After buying a soap-making kit from a craft store, Dallaire’s first homemade items were small toys encased in crystal-clear soaps. After perfecting her techniques, her “goldfish in a bag” soaps have become her signature product for the U.S. gift market. Her trade secret is properly suspending the goldfish and other toys, without allowing them to sink to the bottom and before the soap solidifies.

At first, her soap items were gifts for friends and her children’s teachers. But after meeting with a major wholesale buyer in Atlanta, she took his advice and added new designs to her soaps and expanded her soap-making into the garage. “I was making soaps all day and bagging them in bed at night,” Dallaire recalled.

A major break through came for Dallaire when she drove to Florida with her parents to show her soap products at the Orlando Gift Show. While there, she got orders for $5,000 worth of products and soon repeat orders were coming in. As she continued to self-market and refine her soap products, more sales continued to develop.

Her business quickly outgrew the garage and in 2005 she moved her company to nearby Griffin and a 5,000 square-foot facility that was partially financed with an SBA Community Express Loan.

Late in 2007, her business moved again, this time into its new 10,000 square-foot facility. There, her 15 full time employees and other part time employees, numbering up to 50 workers, produce her line of soaps and other bath products.

Today, her products are in over 3,000 shops and other outlets including Bath & Body Works, Linens ‘N Things, Marshall’s, and TJMaxx. Other accounts are pending at Wal-Mart Mexico, Rite-Aid, and Walgreen’s.

Dallaire has made several TV appearances on the QVC network and was a guest on Donny Deutsch’s “Big Idea” CNBC program on Nov. 5, 2007. She has a book scheduled for publication in May about her success in “Being a Woman in Business in a Man’s World.” The book also covers her personal achievement in losing 120 pounds along the way to her business success.

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