So very excited to present our story at the Olfactory weekend, Sniffapalooza! 150 people gather from all over to learn and share their love of perfume. I presented at this event when we first began so it’s really exciting to be back. So much has happened in two years! We are thrilled to be in the USA with our Partner, Lord & Taylor.
We will be sharing our story in NYC at 5th Ave and would love to have you join us! We are so moved by the incredible stories of our suppliers who have become our friends. Abdullah Arsala in Afghanistan brought us on this journey. He provides legal crops for farmers of delicate orange blossom and rose. He distills it into this glorious essential oil and we purchase from him to support his vision.
We were honoured to travel to Haiti recently with President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. I met The King of Vetiver, Pierre Leger who employs thousands of Haitians with his glorious Vetiver natural essential oil. We are excited to share these stories and our newest Adventure with Middle East Peace. We can be the change.
This time we will be joined by Mary Zilba of the Real Housewives of Vancouver. Mary is a dear friend and we met at the Vancouver launch of our fragrance.
Barb StegemannLeave a comment March 14, 2013
This is my March 12 Huffington Post Column on our Agricultural tour of Haiti with the Clinton Foundation and President Clinton.
When I received an invitation to join President Clinton and a delegation in Haiti on an agricultural trade mission, I looked at the list of large philanthropic corporations from Heineken to Pepsi and at first thought, “How did I get on this powerful list of investors?” I am not a big corporation. I run my small Canadian fragrance company, The 7 Virtues, and we buy essential oils to empower rebuilding nations. Clearly the Clinton Foundation actively engaged in Haiti since 2009 with a mission to champion economic development to rebuild this gem of a country, understands that small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) like ours are the backbone of the economy and we drive innovation. We are small. We are fearless. We can move fast. And countries rebuilding need us to buy from them. That’s why they invited us to join this delegation of twenty diverse investors.
After flying across Haiti in United Nations Helicopters together, it soon became clear to me what President Clinton has in mind to build upon the Clinton Foundation’s already significant investment in Haiti. Those humble roots of our small companies can move swiftly to support suppliers that will make Haiti blossom, grow and thrive. Together, SMEs have the collective buying power to help reverse issues of poverty in nations around the world. Alone, my company may not reverse staggering issues of poverty, but collectively as a cavalry of businesses coming to do trade together we can make a difference in nations rebuilding. Small business drives innovation both at home and with the suppliers we buy from in our global village. Buy their coffee, essential oils, candles buy anything you would purchase anyway and make a choice to buy it from the people and the land of Haiti and then take it to market. The down-to-earth TV hosts, Chef Jose Andres and Chef Mario Batali joined the delegation and summed it up best when they tweeted how there is massive potential in Haiti and it rests with the people and agriculture. When a farmer can buy books and shoes for his children in a safe environment we will reverse issues of war, extreme poverty and hardship. But that farmer needs a job and buyers in order to empower his family.
Food crops can be used in anything from cooking to perfume! I began The 7 Virtues orange blossom oil from my supplier, Abdullah Arsala in Afghanstan to support his work getting farmers off of the illegal poppy crop to make our perfume. In our two years in the oldest department store in North America, The Hudson’s Bay Company we have sold enough perfume to invest $100,000 legal dollars in his community through our essential oil purchases by North Americans. Imagine 300 companies like mine! I do. Abdullah is often on my mind. I think of him and his tribe and the boys and girls who go to school because of him and the employment and dignity he provides in his community. I know that our purchases are making a difference, but I had always dreamed of connecting him with other buyers in France to help fulfill his dream of providing half of the rose oil to the world’s perfumers. Who knew that I would find these people in Haiti? The Clinton Foundation did. They strategically invited Perfume industry titans from France.
My young company has four fragrances that shine a positive light on nations rebuilding. For our Vetiver of Haiti fragrance, we launched on the United Nations International Day of Peace 2011, I sourced our Vetiver of Haiti, an essential oil through an NGO that matched suppliers in nations rebuilding with buyers, so I really never had to come to Haiti before. Up until now, I could source my essential oils without traveling to Haiti or Afghanistan or the Middle East. That worked well until the NGO left Haiti and I could not connect with my supplier in Haiti. There is no finger pointing in this, that’s simply one of the challenges for any business wanting to do trade with nations rebuilding. There are many groups that do not stay for long periods of time due to funding restraints from their partners. That’s why I am so grateful to the Clinton Foundation. They stay the course. Your company can count on them and the people in Haiti can too.
From my first hand experience in Haiti, and my work buying from suppliers, I have never seen a more committed, generous group than the Clinton Foundation in staying the course. They have done 85 investor trade missions and their program under President Clinton’s vision is sustained economic growth. With each new program that is developed, the Clinton Foundation looks at long term sustainability.
Through the Clinton Foundation I was able to meet my new supplier of Vetiver, Pierre Leger, endearingly called The King of Vetiver. I can see why. We met at a dinner hosted by President Clinton and Haiti’s Prime Minister Lamothe. By the end of our time together, we had committed to purchasing his Vetiver and planned a trip back to visit his factory. Pierre introduced me to another Perfume expert from Grasse, France who has worked with him to create a vetiver oil that exceeds all past versions through a specialized distillation process that removes all allergens. This is revolutionary in the world! No other distiller is doing this with vetiver. All of this is right here in Haiti with partners in France and now Canada. And those investors from France are also interested in purchasing oils from my supplier in Afghanistan. It takes a village, a global village. And we cross pollinate our ideas like a world café in action!
I have fallen so deeply in love with Haiti. The people are spiritual. Everyone smiles with a deep faith in a better world. They take care of one another. On the second day of our tour, we visited Rebo, a Coffee Factory. They work with a partner that has created kiosks that vendors take out into the streets of Port au Prince offering coffee for twenty cents and peanut butter sandwiches for twenty-three cents. The socially responsible entrepreneurial approach to helping fellow Haitians in the hard hit urban centre is simply brilliant.
Gilbert Gonzales treated us to a tour of the Rebo coffee factory and at the end shared how they distribute their gourmet coffee to Japan and Europe and Canada and would love to connect with distributors and buyers around the world. So I thought I would share his contact info here so any buyers out there can contact him. Please visit www.rebo.ht and write Gilbert!
To learn more about the opportunities in Haiti to help rebuild visit www.clintonfoundation.org and follow @ClintonTweet
Leave a comment March 4, 2013
Our anniversary is International Women’s Day. March 8th is a celebration of our economic, political and social triumphs. In 2008 I launched the book, “The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen – a woman’s guide to living & leading in an illogical world” I wrote this book to inspire women to launch companies, end bullying and run for office. It gives me so much joy to see so many women serving in public office today from municipal to federal government! We launched the book at The University of King’s College where I went to school to study philosophy and journalism. We created a scholarship for a woman from humble roots to study philosophy. I believe philosophical direction is crucial in leading with purpose and making change in our world for the better. In 2010 on International Women’s Day we launched our first fragrance, Afghanistan Orange Blossom eau de parfum to support farmers there to get off the illegal poppy crop. Thank you for joining us on this journey. If you are able t join us this year, we will be at:
Pathways to Empowerment
Friday, 8 March 2013 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM (AST)
Saint John, New Brunswick Canada
Leave a comment January 11, 2013
When my friend Martine St-Victor from Haiti wrote to say the Minister of Tourism for Haiti was visiting Canada and is interested in our fragrance, we were so honoured.
For us, as Canadians, doing trade with Haiti and nations rebuilding is very important for us. My business partner, Brett has gone to Haiti and helped with rebuilding and it’s truly an honour to work with a team of people who share the same philosophy.
There is still so much to do. For us, shining light on what is beautiful about a country such as Haiti is important. Seeing the Minister of Tourism’s smile when she held up our fragrance made with essential oils from Haiti, there are no words to explain how moved we were.
In Haiti so many of the trees were cut down. And the vetiver root helps prevent erosion. I was told by people from Haiti that there are healing properties to the vetiver oil that is distilled from the root. When we ordered our Vetiver oil we had to be patient, there was the cholera outbreak, then the election, and then….we received our precious vetiver. And you know what? It turns out, it’s the best vetiver in the world!
Our Vetiver of Haiti fragrance has notes of lime tree, bergamot and amber. It’s a warm scent for both men and women. It’s a sexy blend. When my husband wears it, I can smell the ocean on his neck.
Peace to you all and thank you for making our Vetiver of Haiti the #2 selling fragrance on Air Canada on board and the top 5 fragrances, Chatelaine Magazine. This is what international trade looks like. I will definitely be taking our family to visit Haiti in the coming years. Just need to find time to take a holiday – perhaps a working holidayLeave a comment ← Older posts