Dawn Fitch's path to the March 2012 cover of Black Enterprise is paved with all-natural, handmade soap. Strangely, her path to founding Pooka Pure and Simple and becoming a cover girl began with a mysterious illness. Her doctors' confusion led her to investigate the ingredients in nearly every product she touched and to seek out alternative health care, which is how she discovered the therapeutic properties of essential oils.
As part of a self-preserving lifestyle overhaul, Dawn began making her own body products from essential oils, shea and cocoa butters, and fruit powders, ingredients that now comprise her line of cleansers and moisturizers. Nourishing Elbow Grease dispatches dry skin with coconut oil and beeswax instead of threats veiled thinly in petroleum, and shower gels saturate steam with the scent of sugar cookies or bracing basil and citrus. She and three of her "Pookalitas"-a name Dawn's mother gave her as a child that has carried over to her best friends-also craft a line of moisturizing hair tonics that have been lauded in the pages of Essence magazine.
Workshops at the Pooka boutique teach visitors to create beauty products that are free of preservatives, dyes, and harmful chemicals. Dawn also shares her beauty recipes on the company's YouTube channel, and via the Pooka Giveback Program, an annual donation of raffle-ready baskets to four charitable or nonprofit organizations.
In Orange Garden Center's expansive nursery and store, cherry-bomb barberries and japanese maple trees keep watch over purple, yellow, and red flowers, all clad in leafy outfits. More than 800 varieties of perennials lend years of color to lawns, and friendly staffers assist more modest makeovers with stone accents, topsoil, and mulches in hardwood or cedar. After running curious palms over Orange Garden Center's stock of ornamental grasses, patrons can retreat inside to peruse gardening tools and specialty items, such as deer repellent and books on tape, to keep plants entertained while their owners are at work. Orange Garden Center also offers a selection of pottery and window boxes, and customers who purchase pottery can take advantage of the custom flower potting area, where staff is available to plant new purchases at no extra cost.
Though she's been a professional artist for more than 25 years, April Tracey's career began with a momentous decision. After receiving her BFA from Queen's University, April was accepted to the MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design. However, she instead decided to strike out on her own, launching an art gallery, supply store, and school. Now she offers her discerning eye to students through critique services. April pores over pieces in all mediums, offering compassionate criticism in person or via Skype, email, or messages hidden behind the work's frame.