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Bulk/Refill Programs in YOUR Store

Since we launched our zero waste refill programs, we’ve been asked several times by our retailers about how to implement such a program. Here are some hints based on my own experience with a refill program at our local farmers’ market and the insights I have gained from our retailers who are early adopters.

First, if you are working with skin care products only and NO FOOD ITEMS, there appear to be no special regulations governing handling of cosmetics (unlike food handling, which DOES have specific regulations). There ARE, however, laws governing labeling of cosmetic ingredients. Products should have the ingredients visible on the product container and customers should be able to obtain a written copy of the ingredients. For soap in particular, laws require that the customer is PROVIDED a copy with the ingredients at time of purchase. We will supply ingredient cards with our bulk logs of soap, enough for 14 bars per log.

SANITARY CONDITIONS

Ensuring sanitary conditions is important. For example, if you are working with a scoopable product (ointments, cream deodorant, body butter) or powders and salts with open containers, you will need to wear disposable latex/nitrile gloves and keep a dedicated scoop or spoon for each product that is washed and sanitized between uses.

Products in pump containers that remain closed are easier to manage and keep sanitary. Be sure to keep your bulk products out of direct sunlight and at ambient room temperature to avoid premature product degradation, which is more likely to happen in products with natural ingredients.

Product subject to open air, like bulk logs of soap, should be kept clean and free of dust and dirt.

Ensure that the bottles and containers your customers are supplying for refill are clean and dry. Extra bonus points if you spritz them with an isopropyl alcohol spray before filling.

MEASUREMENTS

You will need a scale that is certified by Measurement Canada (yes, that’s a real department! They are responsible for things like certifying gas pumps, grocery store and farm stand scales, electricity measurements. They even have their own vehicles and drive around certifying and inspecting scales). A certified scale is approximately $500 and must be certified at the factory level before purchase. You will need to submit information about your business and the intended use, your scale will be certified and you will be issued a certificate. If you are selling body care products only, your scale never needs to be re-certified. If you are also selling food items, your scale will need to be re-inspected and certified again periodically according to your certificate terms.

We bought our scale from a local restaurant supply store,  it is Kilotech brand.

HOW TO MEASURE

Weigh the empty container (with our without lid, just be sure you are consistent for the entire transaction), when the measurement is stable, press the TARE or ZERO button on your scale. When you remove the bottle, your scale will display a negative number. Some stores add a sticker to indicate the weight to the container itself for future reference.

Fill the container, then reweigh. The total will indicate the net weight of the contents. Multiply this number by the price per gram to obtain the product price.

EXPIRY DATES

Keep an eye on the shelf life and expiry dates of the products you are ordering. There may be wide variations in shelf life. Since you are buying in bulk, you will want to manage the amount of bulk product you can sell in a reasonable amount of time to ensure your products remain fresh, current, and shelf stable.

Products that are opened and closed frequently, bulk bins of bath soaks, for example, will oxidize faster than product that remains unopened and sealed in your store. Be aware that repeated exposure to air, light, and heat may shorten shelf life.

PRICING

Pricing will vary from product to product and by brand, but you can generally expect that customers will save 10-25% on the cost of retail by choosing to refill.

Thank you for your part in reducing single use packaging!

 

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2019: A New Year

In 2018 we celebrated, very quietly, 15 years in business. I had big plans to celebrate, and with new projects and demands that came up, plans were derailed.

2019: New Year New Beginning. There are still some amazing plans on the horizon. We are improving our Body Wash & Bubbles to make it tear free. We are testing some new products we want to bring forward this year for New Moms, women’s skin care, and men’s grooming. We are improving our website to bring you a new experience.

We are looking forward to this year together! Onward and upward!

Apri & the Anointment team

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ANOINTMENT BABY X CHAPTERS INDIGO

Exciting News!

Select Anointment items, namely Baby Skin Care Essentials Gift Set, Postpartum Recovery Set, and Postpartum Bath Herbs are now available ONLINE ONLY at Chapters Indigo.

Chapters Indigo is a popular shopping stop (both online and in store) for the holiday season. A convenient way to get your Anointment fix. If you’re a regular (thank you, we are SO grateful for each and every one of our customers), please feel encouraged to leave a product review!

 

 

 

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MNDFL Beauty December 6, TORONTO!

MNDFL Beauty is a brand discovery and shopping event featuring the most awesome Green Beauty brands that Canada has to offer, hosted by Graydon Skincare!

Not just a shopping event, this is a truly unique opportunity to meet brand founders in person, and ask them your burning skincare questions! This year there will be over 30+ INCREDIBLE beauty and wellness brands!

Mark your calendars now! FREE ADMISSION!

Thursday, December 6 from 3:30 pm to 6 pm

The Jam Factory

2 Matilda Street

Toronto, ON

We are also hosting an evening VIP Cocktail Party!

As you get cozy with brand owners and do a little shopping, you will receive a premium swag bag full of goodies (over $100 value!!) and sip on a complimentary green cocktail provided by Greenhouse Juice Co! Tickets are on our Eventbrite page.

We have some incredible brands to shop from, including:
kaia naturals, Living Libations, Basd body care, Schaf Skincare, Wildcraft Care, Province Apothecary, Sahajan Skincare, Zyderma HS, Pura Botanicals, Aromacentric, Sappho New Paradigm, Helena Lane Skincare, Clean Kiss Organics, East Coast Glow, Shoosha Truly Organic, Étymologie Skin Care, Suncoat, Anointment Natural Skin Care, Plume Science, The Andrea Olivera Centre for Ayurveda, Iremia Skincare, Buck Naked Soap Company, Muni Muni Skin Care, boosh, Merben International, and more!!

This is the perfect time to do your holiday shopping, and stock up on gifts that aren’t only beautiful to look at, but clean, natural, and so good-for-you.

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How did Anointment transform from soap to a best-selling New Mom & Baby skin care line?

Anointment Original Branding

Anointment began as a stall in the Halifax Brewery Farmers’ Market in 2002. Selling bar soap, Anointment did brisk business with customers who came weekly to buy multiple bars of soap packaged simply in hand-stamped paper bags secured with twine. Herbal baby products were a side idea for a booming soap business. Fifteen years later, the tables have turned and soap is now a smaller focus for a business known more for its New Mom & Baby products. How did that happen?

Anointment left the Farmers’ Market in 2008. After a brief hiatus and a change of ownership, Anointment re-emerged at a Halifax natural parenting store then owned by new Anointment owner April MacKinnon where local customers were relieved to find their beloved bar soap. For the next few years, soap remained the top selling category.

In 2011, after relocating from Halifax, NS to Sackville, NB and the birth of her third child, April worked with a handful of local families to provide postpartum doula support until her own family obligations forced a re-prioritization. April was also struggling to find direction for Anointment. One day, while having a lengthy telephone conversation with a fellow baby industry business owner, it was suggested that Baby Balm be submitted for a PTPA Media Award for best new product – and Baby Balm received that award! The lightbulb went on! What if Anointment New Mom & Baby products could embody the postpartum support of a doula in the products themselves? What might that look like?

It started with product formulations. Every ingredient was scrutinized and evaluated. Parents have a lot on their plate, it’s important that Anointment create products with intentional ingredients and product formulations that are pure, simple, and effective. We made changes, we found new suppliers with organic certifications.

We continued with packaging and new label designs. How could we impart a welcoming, supportive feeling into our packaging? We went through several iterations of designs, including lighthouses, whales and other Maritime imagery before bringing it really close to home: using the designs pressed into the doorknobs of the century Farmhouse I call home with my family. It fit like a perfectly warm hug.

That was just the beginning. As interest and product love grew, so did our New Mom & Baby line. We added more products to support moms in the immediate days postpartum when our body and spirit are raw. We tucked well wishes into the flaps of boxes, recipes into the insides of gift sets. Adding the intangible into a tangible item.

Anointment continues to grow and evolve, but today, our New Mom & Baby Line continues to be our best-selling line of products, and we couldn’t be more proud!

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Anointment Fall Show Schedule

 

 

Where to find us:

September 29 / Sackville Farmers’ Market // Bill Johnstone Memorial Park // Sackville, NB // 9 am -noon

 

October 6 / Sackville Farmers’ Market // Bill Johnstone Memorial Park // Sackville, NB // 9 am – noon

October 13 / Sackville Farmers’ Market // Bill Johnstone Memorial Park // Sackville, NB // 9 am – noon

October 20 / Heart and Pocket Revue // Sackville Legion // Sackville, NB // 9 am – 4 pm

October 27 / Sackville Farmers’ Market // Bill Johnstone Memorial Park // Sackville, NB // 9 am – noon

 

November 3 / Sackville Farmers’ Market // Sackville Commons // Sackville, NB // 9 am -noon

November 10 / Sackville Farmers’ Market // Sackville Commons // Sackville, NB // 9 am -noon

November 16 / Craft Nova Scotia Christmas Show // Cunard Centre // Halifax, NS // 10 am – 9 pm

November 17 / Craft Nova Scotia Christmas Show // Cunard Centre // Halifax, NS // 9 am – 5 pm

November 18 / Craft Nova Scotia Christmas Show // Cunard Centre // Halifax, NS // 10 am – 5 pm

November 23 / Dartmouth Makers Winter Show // Parish Hall, 61 Dundas Street // Dartmouth, NS // 5 – 9 pm

November 24 / Dartmouth Makers Winter Show // Parish Hall, 61 Dundas Street // Dartmouth, NS // 9 am – 4 pm

 

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The NB Box

The NB Box (image courtesy nbbox.ca)

 

Leaving Home

Like kids everywhere, I couldn’t wait to leave home. I was packed for a full year before I moved away, eager to leave behind the small New Brunswick town I grew up in and see “the world”, find success elsewhere. I left for university as a young woman, moved to a larger city and established a career. I traveled to Europe, saw a bit of the world and started a family. At that moment, “home” started pulling me back. There were several iterations of what that could look like. First it was weekend visits to my parents’ home. Then, it was the idea of maybe purchasing a summer home or a cottage. Finally, three children and two careers later, an opportunity arose that allowed us to move back to Sackville, New Brunswick, a university town of 5,000 people in the South Eastern corner of the province.

Having lived for over a decade in Halifax, I was used to the love and lore of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia is celebrated and has a strong folklore. There are songs written about it (I have yet to hear a lamented “Farewell to New Brunswick”). I was inundated with “you’re moving to NEW BRUNSWICK?!” with disdain by many of my colleagues and friends. It was a bittersweet goodbye. I’m not sure what they imagined, but I presumed they were imagining a place devoid of culture, of ideas, of people. Just moose. And trees.

And certainly our move was full of trepidation. I was leaving behind an entire community that I loved, friends I would miss terribly, a successful business I had built from the ground up, all to move to a tiny town in New Brunswick.

To be honest, there was a time I thought those voices might be right. I had enjoyed significant business success in Halifax, I had built a name and a reputation there. I was moving from the largest regional economic centre and trying to build Anointment on a national scale in a tiny town. Could it be done? Could *I* do it, while raising three children? I wasn’t sure.

Coming Home

Seven years later, I know it CAN be done from here. I see a re-awakening in celebrating what we have. We have unparalleled natural beauty. We have communities that come together in times of crisis. We have entrepreneurs who are taking on the world. We have a way of life to celebrate and be grateful for, and we have a culture of modesty that generally looks like “we have enough.”

Earlier this year I was introduced to Ingrid Elyse, a writer and mother of young children from Saint John, NB. She had begun a weekly column called Ms. New Brunswick, which I thought was immediately brilliant. Having grown up in the 1980s, I recall clearly teenaged girls vying for Miss Marshland Frolics here in Sackville, or Miss Dorchester. I remember the swimsuit modeling, the talent portion, the prom dress. And I’m thankful those days are gone. I’m so impressed that Ingrid has reclaimed that title for women to be celebrated for their achievements and not how they look in a two piece bathing suit (which I’m betting would also be AWESOME because women are beautiful and amazing). Ingrid kindly interviewed me for the Ms. New Brunswick series and I was shocked at how much came out of me – over a decade of business experience, of learning, making mistakes, feeling the fear, picking myself back up again and forging forward. It was a moment I realized that I knew something, that I had accumulated knowledge I didn’t even take the time to acknowledge I had. I am grateful for that. The feedback on the article was amazing and the energy has buoyed me forward.

The NB Box

Ingrid also has felt inspired by the women she interviewed and now, while expecting a baby, she has launched her own business, the NB Box. An opportunity to celebrate the product of some of the women entrepreneurs of New Brunswick. A gift to send to those for whom the pull “home” has begun but they have not negotiated their lives into place yet (it took me six full years). A way to support individuals who want to be successful on their own terms. And so the NB Box was born.

Soothing Skin Ointment 40 g (Image courtesy nbbox.ca)

Anointment’s signature Soothing Skin Ointment is included among the gorgeous offerings of this box, we are thrilled to be part of it and hope that you will support the growing culture of entrepreneurship flourishing along with the wild roses and goldenrod in the meadows of this beautiful province right now! #nbproud

 

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Inside Anointment: Making Baby Balm

Anointment has been making Baby Balm for 15 years. Many things have changed since then: in 2003 ago I carried a Palm Pilot, listened to 50 cent’s “In Da Club” on repeat, and rented “Lost in Translation” at the local Blockbuster for Friday night entertainment. One thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to pure, simple, natural recipes that work! In that time, Anointment has moved provinces from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick, changed our business model from Farmers’ Market stand to serving the wholesale market, and now has coast to coast Canadian distribution! Our workspace has evolved, our team has grown, and our batch volumes have doubled, but we still do things very much by hand.

We use minimal processing to maintain the quality of the natural ingredient benefits.  Learn how Anointment Baby Balm is made.

We begin with the best ingredients. We source certified organic herbs from a trusted supplier in Ontario. We now purchase certified organic extra virgin olive oil by the DRUM (produced in Tunisia, it is beautiful oil), and use Canadian beeswax from a lovely farmer named Tom in Manitoba. Each ingredient is carefully weighed and all of the product details are recorded for our batch records.

When the herbs are weighed, they are added to a heated infusion pot (not shown) along with the measured extra virgin olive oil and heated over low heat for several hours. This allows the natural (oil soluble) soothing properties of the herbs to be extracted into the oil.

After the heating period, the oil and herbs sit for several more hours (sometimes days) at room temperature to continue steeping. The oil is then double-strained to remove all of the dried herb material.

Fragrant Canadian beeswax is weighed and added to the oil. Beeswax is the thickener that creates an ointment (see what we did there with our name?) texture.

When the beeswax has melted, the Baby Balm ointment is ready to be bottled.

Poured hot, each bottle of Baby Balm is poured by hand and filled by weight.

Each bottle is labeled using a semi-automatic labeling machine. It operates with a foot pedal like a sewing machine. This photo shows Lavender Body Wash & Bubbles, but we use the same labeling machine for Baby Balm. We had to send the machine for customization because of the lips on the jars we use (notice the notches cut in the silver and black rollers).

The end result is a bottle of double-award winning jar of Baby Balm, ready to fulfill its diapering destiny.

Do you have a story to tell about Baby Balm? Let us know, we’ll add it to the website!

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Anointment x Dartmouth Makers 2018 Spring Market

Mark your calendars Dartmouth, Anointment is coming to the Dartmouth Makers 2018 Spring Market happening at the Parish Hall, 61 Dundas Street in Downtown Dartmouth (such a beautiful venue). Friday, May 25 (5 pm-9 pm) & Saturday, May 26 (9 am-4 pm). Best of all, admission is FREE and I’m telling you, the quality of the vendors at this show is second to none – it’s worth the trip over the bridge, or in from the Valley, or my drive from New Brunswick, for that matter.

I’ll have all of your favourites and I’m working really hard to have a few new surprises in store for you as well, stay tuned!

I can’t wait to see you all, Dartmouth!

XO, April

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April MacKinnon Featured On Ms. New Brunswick Series

Ingrid Elyse is a writer, mother and passionate New Brunswicker. When she agreed to feature me on her blog, I was excited to tell my story. I have repeated the entire article here on the blog, you can find the original on Ingrid’s Ms. New Brunswick website.

Something that weighs heavily on my mind is the pressure that working mothers feel, both at work and home. For me, it was impossible to escape the mom guilt over how long I was spending at the office, but I also felt like I wasn’t giving my employer my full attention. It’s hard when you feel like a failure both at home and at work. Flexible employment options are limited for working moms in New Brunswick, so it was very encouraging and refreshing to speak with someone who felt like I did, but who was an employer. April MacKinnon, the owner behind the skincare company Anointment, is next in the Ms New Brunswick series. Anointment’s products are stand alone impressive, but so too is April’s understanding and compassion for her employees and their families.
When your work is very rigid in their expectations about your performance and attendance, it can feel like having a family is preventing you from achieving your career goals. Having a family shouldn’t impact your career, but we know that it does. An article that ran in the Financial Post yesterday stated that “women are 15 per cent less likely than men to get promoted — and a mother is half as likely to be promoted as a woman without children”. These are stats coming out of the United States, but the data here isn’t much different.

Tell me a bit about Anointment.
Anointment is a clean skincare company. Our products used to cater to pregnant and nursing women and babies, but has grown over the years and now there is something for everyone. It started as a farmer’s market product in Halifax 15 years ago, and changed to an online retail and wholesale style company when we moved home to Sackville in 2011. Anointment did really well in Halifax because the market was bigger there. When we moved to Sackville we had to redesign the brand to be wholesale-able because we just couldn’t sell at the same volume at the local farmer’s market. Sackville is so much smaller than Halifax so we had to think differently and find a larger market for our products. Now we sell to over 300 retailers and you can order our products directly from us off our website. Every product is still handmade here in Sackville. We’ve grown so much over the years and we’ve done it all in this rural community!

How did you get started?
That’s a complicated answer. My background is actually in civil Engineering and I had done a lot of work in landfills and became really dismayed at the throw-away culture. It’s jarring to see just how much trash we create. Another part of it is that during my first pregnancy I really went through a skincare detox. I became aware and informed about chemicals and cleansers and all the terrible things we are exposing ourselves and our kids to and I became passionate about keeping that stuff out of my house. At the time I owned a baby goods store in Halifax and one of my suppliers was a friend of mine that made soaps that were safe and natural. She taught me a lot about soap-making and eventually she was looking to sell her business, so I bought it. I already had a passion for all-natural products, and I just really enjoyed making soaps, and I loved coming up with new ideas. I also knew that I would eventually want to relocate to New Brunswick to be nearer my family and I thought that this business would be easier to transport than a physical retail store (and I was right).
Anointment looks a lot different now than it did when it started, but when you have a business you have to be in it for the long-term. Success is often a slow build and it’s very much like parenting where you are working day to day for a long-term goal. I’m 12 years in and I am still working toward that long-term.

Has the community been supportive?
Yes! The very first thing I did was join the farmers market to see if there was potential for my business to thrive here. Sackville is small but they have been incredibly supportive. I have two retailers here even though the town is so small. I still go to the market, seasonally and when time allows, but for the first little while that we were here it was a huge chunk of the business. I am so thankful for that.
I also received lots of opportunity and help from the CBDC and Opportunities New Brunswick. I have had great success from those programs, and I feel that they are good resources for small business owners. It can be difficult I think to get in with them, to get on their radar, but once you are you have access to a lot of wonderful programs.
My family has also been a huge part of the reason I’m successful. My husband for one, I couldn’t do it without him. I used to always work Saturdays and he’s always been great at backing me up. He picks up the slack when I’m away at trade shows. It hasn’t been easy; he’s never had a super flexible schedule, but he makes it work. We moved home to be closer to family and my parents live like 500 yards away now. They are very helpful and my Dad even works with me.

You have a ton of wonderful products for pregnant/nursing mothers and babies. Is that still the main focus of Anointment?
I wouldn’t say that is the focus anymore. We have so many lines and have expanded so much we really have products for anyone. As the business grew, so did the opportunities to expand the product lines. As my life changes, so does my interest in the direction of what products to try and develop next. I have adolescent kids now so I am interested in developing deodorants and skincare lines for teenagers.

Do you have any employees?
Yes. I have an amazing team of women, plus my Dad. There are five of us total, and we make, package and ship every single product ourselves. Dad is my soap maker. He covered my last maternity leave (6 years ago) and has been with us ever since. He loves it. The rest of us all work together, but we all have specific roles so everyone can get their work done on their own time. Mostly they all work about 25-30 hours a week and we work around their family schedules. It is so huge to be able to offer flexible employment to these women. It’s something I am really proud of. I have kids, I know what it feels like to be worried about your employer’s reaction when you have to pick up your sick kid at daycare, and so it is important to me to be a different kind of employer. And it works, for all of us.

What is the biggest difficulty you’re dealing with now?
The biggest challenge I have had in this community is finding workspace. We are home-based right now – I have a separate production space in a building next to my home, but it’s too small. There’s nothing really suited to my needs in Sackville and I haven’t found a suitable space. I am a medium-sized business that doesn’t require a retail front. I need something like a warehouse, but not a giant industrial-sized one. It seems like there are a lot of options for small businesses, retail, or large-scale commercial operations here.

How do you balance work and personal life?
For a long time, I don’t think I had a lot of balance. I had three small kids and I was working well into the night or getting up at 3am just to squeeze in 4-5 hours of work time before they got up, which I really don’t recommend, by the way. I’ve come to realize that life doesn’t get less busy it just changes. There is no point where it’s easier – there is no point where suddenly things relax and it gets significantly easier. Life is crazy. So, when you realize that, you just prioritize. I make time for my family. I try really hard not to work on weekends, and I don’t work fulltime. I am always around for suppers, homework and helping out. I talk with my kids. I attend their events. You show up for your family, and you multi-task when you can.

What’s next for Anointment?
We’ve started growing some of the ingredients for our products here on the property, like calendula and rose hips, and I am looking to expand that even more next year. My parents were always thrifty and always had a garden, so growing our own ingredients has become a part of the business. We also recently got our cruelty-free certification which was a big deal. We’ve always been cruelty-free of course, but it’s not easy to get the official certification and it opens up a lot of opportunities for us. I am excited for what is on the horizon for Anointment – I’m always playing the long-game.

What is one piece of advice you would give other women looking to start their own business?
Get connected with local business resources like the CBDC and Opportunities New Brunswick. Try and find a mentor even if it is unofficial or online. Find other women in business that you can rely on just to bounce ideas off of. Even just the odd coffee date can really help. Business ownership can be very isolating, so be aware of when you’re giving the business too much of yourself to prevent burnout. Don’t underestimate the power of your small and local farmers market. That community can lead you to the next step and provide you valuable feedback on your business and products. Make sure you know about the regulatory framework that surrounds your business. Also, be prepared to bootstrap it for awhile.

Where can people find Anointment products or get in touch with you?

We are online at www.anointment.ca. You can find our list of retailers in your area there as well. You can find us on Facebook and Instagram.

I immediately went out and bought some of her products after our talk (I got mine at the Feel Good Store in Saint John), and I read the literature she pointed me toward about chemicals in household products. I bought the clay mask and bubble bath and I love both products. After trying them out, I went online and bought the highly rated baby balm diaper cream and you can bet that when she launches an all-natural deodorant I will be all over that.

April quite genuinely cares about people. This is evident both in the nature of her products – clean, vegan personal care products – and in the way she produces them. It’s evident in the way she talks about her community, her family and her employees. She has a wealth of knowledge on her craft, and on business in general (from sales & pitching to marketing and distribution). I love that a company of this scale could be coming out of a rural community like Sackville, and I admire the determination that it would take anyone to operate such a large-scale business from there.
Most of all though, I respect that April offers to her employees what she never received from anyone else; the opportunity to be successful both at home and at work through flexible working conditions.

The Ms New Brunswick project is about taking a title back for all the women who really embody the heart and soul of our province through creative endeavours and entrepreneurship. The makers and doers who are sharing with us their time, energy and talents, and carrying us forward. Full-time or side hustle. Big or small. At home or in an office. Products or service. Crafters, moms, entrepreneurs, shop owners, consultants. Whatever. If there is a woman in our province giving life to an idea or product, I want to know about it.