RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It took her mom's breast cancer diagnosis to get Kristina Gagliardi-Wilson to stop using products laden with toxic chemicals but once she did, there was no turning back.
In fact, her whole family -- mom (who's now cancer-free), father, brother, husband and kids -- are now involved in Poofy Organics , the Rutherford-based company she started in 2006 soon after her mom was given the news.
Knowing she had to do something to make the world a safer, better place not just for her mother but for other families, this Special Ed Teacher, who says she was always good with chemistry and recipes, started experimenting with essential oils and lotions in an effort to create pure, effective products made fresh by hand with extracts that contain therapeutic properties.
"Ive always done well at research and teaching myself things," she said, "I figured, how difficult could it be?" And though it ended up taking years to establish her business and come up with proper formulas —she is now fully entrenched in living the organic life.
"The love and passion for this business fuel me," she said.
What initially started with three products (soap, body wash and lotion) has now grown to more than 500 spanning everything from hair care to cosmetics to household items.
Among her top sellers: deodorant, nail polish, an everything salve and baby products.
All items are made in East Rutherford where, on a given day, you can find the majority of the Gagliardi-Wilson clan. The company relocated there in 2015 when production grew too much to handle out of their original Rutherford location.
They also have a retail shop on Franklin Place in Rutherford.
Gagliardi-Wilson said her path to success has never followed a typical business strategy.
"People always tell me I do things backwards," she said, "But I prefer to do things the right way than think first about how to make money."
She said her goal is to continue to grow in increments. "We don't want to be an overnight success," she said. "We just want to be in more households.
Poofy Organics products can be found either in the retail store or online; go to www.poofyorganics.com/ for more information.