Meet the Maker: Peripeti Home’s Kate Walsh-Dodok
Kate Walsh-Dodok always envisioned Peripeti Home as more than merely a fragrance company.
Walsh-Dodok, founder and creative director of Peripeti Home, learned to create candles as gifts for friends and family, but her entrepreneurial spirit allowed her to see a much bigger picture.
Thus, she founded Peripeti Home out of her basement in 2015 with a mission to bring clean, handcrafted fragrances to homes. She began attending small shows, networking at community events and developed her business one fragrance and one customer at a time.
“Peripeti” means a turning point or point of change — a small thing with a big impact. Walsh-Dodok sees home fragrance and candles as exactly that: small items that remind people to slow down and connect with either themselves or others.
“To me, that sums up fragrance,” she said. “We all live busy, hectic lives. But by just lighting a candle, watching the flame and enjoying the fragrance, ordinary moments become something special.”
Over the years, Peripeti grew to be a successful business with Walsh-Dodok proving to be something of a one-woman show — a true entrepreneur.
A TURNING POINT
While one mission of Peripeti is to help customers slow down and enjoy the present, Walsh-Dodok was focused on the business, taking very few moments to rest. That is, until 2021, when she experienced a “turning point” of her own: a cancer diagnosis.
Upon receiving the diagnosis, Walsh-Dodok planned to continue to work on Peripeti while also going through treatment, but she quickly learned that she must heed the same message she sends customers: Take time to slow down. She assessed her options to keep Peripeti in operation while focusing on her own health.
“It was at a point when the business was either going to feast or famine,” Walsh-Dodok explained. “It made me pause and say, ‘How do we really sustain this?’”
She reached out to Building Hope in the City — a faith-based nonprofit in Cleveland that aims to empower refugees, generate employment and build up the city. The organization partners with social enterprises — businesses that align with its mission while also generating employment and growth for the communities it serves.
Jeff Stredney, director of social enterprise at Building Hope in the City, had been in search of another social enterprise to work with in Cleveland. When he met with Walsh-Dodok, Stredney saw how their missions aligned.
“She built it on hustle and grit just like any entrepreneur does,” Stredney said. “She came with a very, very complete business that she had built in five years, following a very natural progression to me of what you would go through in a startup.”
Building Hope in the City’s involvement, which continues today, allowed Peripeti to open a warehouse and manufacturing facility outside of Walsh-Dodok’s home. Through the nonprofit, Peripeti also employs several refugee women, offering them career paths to thrive individually and help build up Cleveland’s refugee community.
Meanwhile, Peripeti provides Building Hope in the City an opportunity to not only work toward its own mission but also to share their story with those outside of the city limits.
“As soon as [Kate] presented [Peripeti Home], I immediately saw this could be a great avenue,” Stredney said. “It’s a product that is national and international. It’s something we could ship. We could get the story of Building Hope out beyond just the city of Cleveland. We can bring in resources from outside. We can share the beautiful stories of some of these women, raising awareness for it all. And for us as a faith-based entity, honoring God in this process.”
Walsh-Dodok is healthy and in remission now, and she continues to lead her company. While her circumstances required immense resiliency, she is thankful for what the diagnosis ultimately presented: an opportunity to slow down and find a business partner that now gives her company further purpose and growth.
“I’m grateful that this came out of that season,” she said. “I really see it as a tremendous blessing that came out of that.”
Today, Peripeti continues to offer soy candles made of natural, nontoxic ingredients. Fragrance is hand poured into all of the wax to ensure a long-lasting scent as the candle burns. Each candle also includes a 100% cotton or wooden wick.
Walsh-Dodok takes care to layer each fragrance, creating a unique blend of base, middle and top notes. She also loves to experiment with nontraditional scent pairings, creating fragrances such as Lavender Orange, Tobacco Apricot (a best-seller) and Rosemary Tangerine. Peripeti also offers seasonal scents, including Pumpkin Ginger and Pomegranate Spice.
Its product selection has also expanded beyond candles to include reed diffusers, room sprays and soy wax melts — all made from clean ingredients. Peripeti sells to business clients and direct to consumers, in addition to wholesale.
With a thriving business and multifaceted mission, Walsh-Dodok has every intention to further grow the business and share its story. She aims to continue providing steady employment for the refugee women Peripeti employs. Additionally, she looks to continue to grow her private label, client gifting and wholesale business.
“A lot of those dreams, I really do see them taking shape,” Walsh-Dodok said.
True to its name, Peripeti has encountered several “turning points” to reach where it is today. Through it all, Walsh-Dodok’s resiliency, entrepreneurial spirit and heart have played a major role in the company’s growth. With the help of Building Hope in the City, her employees and her community, Peripeti has lived up to its name.
“Peripeti means a small thing with a big impact or turning point and point of change, and when I was starting the business, I thought, ‘That’s what fragrance represents,’” Walsh-Dodok said. “Now, I feel like that meaning is taken on a whole other level. It’s actually impacting these women. It’s impacting Cleveland. I never knew how significant that name could be.”