Inventor hopes to cream competition with deal
MAJDA Ficko is on a roll — the kind of roll most entrepreneurs can only dream of experiencing.
In less than two months, the Winnipeg-area entrepreneur has had her all-natural, Baby Butz diaper rash cream featured in celebrity gifting lounges at two major Hollywood events — the Golden Globe Awards and last weekend’s Oscars.
She’s also been invited to sponsor a March 17 celebrity baby shower in Los Angeles and has just struck a deal with one of the country’s largest supermarket chains — Canada Safeway — to have her product carried in all 250 of its Canadian stores. It should be hitting the shelves within the next four to eight weeks.
Ficko said she’s also in negotiations with two national drugstore chains and will meet today with a national distributor that supplies products to independently owned pharmacies across the country.
“This thing has just taken on a life of its own,” the admittedly exhausted mother of three said Thursday from her East St. Paul home.
“I always knew it (her cream) would do well. I just didn’t think it would be this fast or this big. I’m just trying to keep a level head and keep my head from flying off my body.”
Ficko and a local chemist developed Baby Butz in 2004 for her now-14-year-old son Demitri, who was born with Comelia de Lange Syndrome, a rare developmental disorder that requires him to be tube-fed and in diapers 24 hours a day.
But keeping her head on her shoulders could get even trickier after the March 17 baby shower for Dancing with the Stars winner J.R. Martinez and his wife.
Ficko said 35 to 40 guests, many of them celebrities, have been invited to the shower, which is being held in the Hollywood mansion of Martinez’s publicist. She’ll be supplying a jar of her cream — all nicely packaged, of course — for each guest. And People magazine and People.com will be there to cover the event.
Ficko said she’s not sure what kind of impact a mention in People might have on sales of her Health Canada-approved product.
“It’s impossible to tell. It could be little, or it could be huge because of People,” she said. “But even if nothing happens, it’s still OK.”
Her product is already available at a variety of retail outlets in Manitoba, Alberta, and B.C., as well as in two stores in New York City (for a list visit: www.babybutz.com).
She said 31 pediatricians at the Manitoba Clinic also have been handing out free samples of the product to their patients, and word-of-mouth advertising is starting to kick in.
Because it’s a topical skin treatment, a number of other doctors and nurses have been using it to treat other skin conditions, including cold sores, acne, bed sores and eczema.
“They’re all telling me I have to relabel it because it’s being used for so much more (than just diaper rash),” she said.
So she figures she’s going to do fine even without any boost from Hollywood.
In fact, it’s getting so busy she plans to hire a couple of workers in the next month to lend her a hand. One can help out with all of the inquiries she’s been getting, and the other can help fill orders and ship the product.
A local laboratory/manufacturer — she can’t say who — is producing the cream for Ficko’s company, Olen Cosmetics Co. She said it should have the capacity to handle any surge in sales.
“If it gets to be out of control we’ll look for a second facility,” she said. “We can basically take it anywhere. But I’d like to keep everything here in Manitoba, if I can.”