Meet Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker, Founder & CEO of DeeBee’s Organics
Backed with a PhD in maternal-fetal toxicology, Dionne and her husband, a surgeon, researched the extensive advantages of herbal blends, experimented with fresh fruit combinations and in late 2013, launched DeeBee’s Organics delicious line of frozen treats. Their little homemade venture has grown and evolved and now DeeBee’s line of Organic FruitPops and SuperFruit Freezies are now available on grocery store shelves across Canada and parts of the United States.
My first job ever was… delivering newspapers for a small Vancouver paper that was called The Western News. I actually used to have a red wheelbarrow that I loaded up with papers and pulled behind me for several miles. I was about 10 years old! I loved the paper route and used to get tips in the form of home made donuts and the occasional dime or quarter. I can even remember pulling that red wheelbarrow up a steep hill through a snowstorm! One thing I have always had is determination.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… of my kids! The idea to start DeeBee’s Organics came from our kitchen when my kids were 8 and 10. David wanted to make tea and Jocelyn wanted to make popsicles. The two kids were arguing over who wanted to make what with mommy, when Jocelyn said, “Mommy, lets’ make ‘teasicles’.” This simple idea sparked so much inside me when I realized, as a Mom and a PhD Medical Scientist, there weren’t enough healthy, organic snacks in the stores without chemicals, toxins or preservatives. I had a ‘eureka’ moment and understood the reason why I spent all those years studying the effects of chemicals and toxins on child development – to create a company dedicated to providing every family healthy, clean-label, organic treats to enjoy together.
My proudest accomplishment is… watching my kids learn from the work that I have done at DeeBee’s and in their lives in general. Both my children have learned the value of every single penny. They are both very innovative and they know there is no silver spoon in order to achieve anything in life, you have to set a goal, work your butt off, persevere until you accomplish that goal. My son had started a business doing photography and, at 14 years old, now sells his photographs successfully on Shutterstock. My daughter was recently accepted to United World Colleges Pearson College, which was very challenging and competitive to achieve. She is a global thinker, enjoys scholarly debate and has her mind set on becoming a leading physicist or chemist. I am very proud of the commitment they show toward achieving their own goals and dreams.
“I had a ‘eureka’ moment and understood the reason why I spent all those years studying the effects of chemicals and toxins on child development – to create a company dedicated to providing every family healthy, clean-label, organic treats to enjoy together.”
My boldest move to date was… to take the leap of faith and go all in when we launched DeeBee’s Organics. By all in, I mean that we have a lot of skin in the game including financial, emotional, time, passion, life, and more! It was a 360-degree decision that affected all areas of our family’s lives and I didn’t take that lightly. This has been a big, bold move – the boldest move that I have ever made in life and career and I have been working just as hard ever since day one.
I surprise people when I tell them… that I am also a PhD medical scientist who studied Maternal-Fetal Toxicology. People often drop their jaw in shock and say, “And now you’re making popsicles and freezies?!” I then explain that I am actually able to use my background in medical sciences to ensure that every single product that DeeBee’s makes is absolutely pure, clean, and nutritious.
My best advice to people starting a business is… “Know what you don’t know.” This means that you need to be humble enough to know that you cannot possibly know and understand every aspect of your business. Make sure you align with advisors and mentors who can help you through specific periods of your business growth and development. People love to be involved with other passionate people, just ask someone you admire in the area you are in. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know so get up the guts and ask for help!
My best advice from a mentor was… to truly understand our target market and make sure we connect with those people to see if our products and marketing efforts are “speaking to them.” It is very important to understand the demographics, interests, and their core values. You need to really get to know who your target market is, and what they’re truly looking for. Our target market is the modern mom and dad who are looking for clean label, organic snack foods for their family. We know that on top of these values, our product has to taste absolutely amazing, more delicious than anything they have ever tasted before!
I would tell my 20-year old self… to have more self-confidence and truly “go for the gold” in terms of the career aspirations I had for myself. I would tell my younger self to take more risks at an earlier age. I always did what was expected of me on the path that I needed to take to complete my PhD but I wish I had put myself out there and thought a little more outside the box when I was younger when I didn’t have the responsibility of a husband and children (who are now my top priority).
My biggest setback was… discovering that the product that we initially launched at DeeBee’s was not selling well and I had to figure out why. We were all in and there was no turning back so I went through many sleepless nights trying to understand what we could do differently.
I overcame it by… discovering that “taste is king” and although our product was super healthy, it just didn’t taste good enough. This meant that I needed to bring someone on our team with the skills in product innovation and confectionery training. This was probably one of the most important pivotal moments at DeeBee’s. Since that moment, our products have changed significantly and they taste absolutely phenomenal. Every single thing DeeBee’s makes MUST taste better than every single product on the market in our category – and now we do!
Work/life balance is… so important! Like many things in life, good things never come easy. It takes a ridiculous amount of effort on my behalf to preserve the work and life balance. One thing I will say makes it even more difficult is my phone. When the iPhone beeps or rings at home and it is a work issue, I have learned that in order to respect everyone at home, I have to let it go. The same rule applies when the phone rings when I am in a meeting and it is family. I have to let it go (granted it’s not an emergency!) and call back. This way I can give both my team members at work and the person on the phone my full attention. This isn’t always easy and I fail at both on many, many occasions. My marriage is also critically important to me and there is no doubt that that relationship has faced many a challenge as I have had to travel and be away from home sometimes for weeks on end. I make sure to schedule weekends away with my husband where we put all links to work away and simply focus on being together.
The last book I read was… Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. It is truly incredible!
I stay inspired by… watching members of my team and my family be inspired both in their lives and being part of the DeeBee’s family. I have cultivated an environment of innovation and creativity because I welcome new ideas and encourage members of the team and my own family to think outside the box. I am so inspired by the ideas from every member of our team and I have incorporated the creative thoughts that have come from my children and husband as well. Everyone at Team DeeBee’s is encouraged to constantly aspire to the next level, move forward and conquer each and every challenge they face by coming up with three possible solutions and if they don’t find the answer, we can solve it as a team. I believe we have a trailblazing team!
The future excites me because… we have witnessed close to 300% growth at DeeBee’s throughout 2018 and this trajectory looks like it may only increase in the next few years. We have some amazing people joining Team DeeBee’s to make our passionate team even more incredible. We are also very excited about some secret products and partnerships that are in the works for 2019-2020. Stay tuned…
My next step is… to continue to build out the team to meet the expanding demand we have for DeeBee’s across North America. It is very exciting that we are at the point where investors, incredible potential employees and amazing advisors are contacting us because they want to be apart of our every expanding and growing company.