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!
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!
Today’s post at Oh My! Handmade Goodness is the summary of the conversation I had about balance, life, and raising kids while running a business with Betsy Thomas, co-owner of Bummis, one of Canada’s original cloth diaper manufacturers. Be sure to check it out!
:: Ate a left over bowl of chili cashew chicken noodles, a recipe by Donna Hay. Note that mine looks nothing like her photo. I also substituted pine nuts for cashews since that’s what was in my cupboard. Perused a back issue of Stitch Magazine to gather ideas for Christmas gifts I will have no time to complete but still like to think about.
:: I had prepared three more batches of Belly Butter for cooling before I went for lunch, so when I came back, I emulsified, whipped and jarred them all. I typically do three batches at a time and usually two sets of three to end with a decent amount of product. This is only a fraction of what I need to complete this week.
I’m still working on the Rose Toner and have 45 minutes left before my two older children arrive home from school. Their little brother will be along shortly, he spent the morning with my mom and providing the rain doesn’t pick up, she’ll walk him home in the stroller. I’d best get moving.
Sometimes when you’re at home with your children the smallest things are funny. As I was cleaning up under the high chair after a spaghetti lunch a perfectly formed ampersand greeted me under the table. I couldn’t stage that if I tried. There you have it. Pasta punctuation.
“The best piece of advice I’ve had from another entrepreneur was, ‘if you run your business from your heart, success will follow,’” says April MacKinnon, owner of Anointment Natural Skin Care. That advice is from Jeremy Long, owner of Padraig Cottage Ltd., whose slipper business started in North Vancouver and whose products are now sold in boutiques across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. “I believe authenticity is important, and so is standing behind your principles,” says MacKinnon, “no matter what your financial statements may say.”
It’s her deeply rooted principles about the importance of natural skin care and providing products that don’t comprise her customers’ health or the environment that drives MacKinnon – and it’s paying off. From her base in rural Sackville, NB, MacKinnon, AGE, has expanded her wholesale business across Canada, reaching as far as Edmonton, AB. “We’ve gone from selling in four stores in Nova Scotia to fulfilling orders for 30 stores nationally,” says MacKinnon.
A civil engineer by trade, MacKinnon left the profession in 2006 to pursue the natural health products market full time. She bought Anointment in the spring of 2009. She and her husband, Jeff, moved their growing family from Dartmouth, NS back to her home town of Sackville, NB in YEAR. They are now parents to Anna, 6, Cameron, 5, and Andrew, 1. MacKinnon is a stay-at-home mom who runs Anointment from their 150-year-old farm house.
To grow her business, MacKinnon focuses on the baby and children market. “I find boutiques and online websites that cater to moms like me – women who care about what we’re putting on our family’s skin.” MacKinnon gets weekly requests from stores wanting to carry Anointment products.
“I think the most important thing when supplying to retailers across the county is to commit to supporting them,” says MacKinnon. “You have to treat your retailers well – get your orders out on time, help with merchandizing, be accessible. Basically, empower them to sell your product as well as you would if you were in their stores. And never underestimate the power of professional branding. It gives retailers more confidence in your product.”
Her future plans include opening an Anointment retail store in Sackville, NB, and joining the Atlantic economusee network. “Soap making is physically demanding, but really rewarding. I want to contribute to the local economic development here and job creation – I want to employ women like me who have a strong business sense and young children.” – Heather MacLean
Meet Ed, Andrew’s birthday Waldorf Doll. I’ve tried to make it a tradition to give babies (mine, family, close friends) a baby of their own on their first Christmas, first birthday on on the occasion of the birth of a sibling. I’ve fallen behind but I did manage to make my FIRST DOLL IN FOUR YEARS for Andrew’s first birthday. I bought the wool for the hair nearly a year ago from Deanne’s rug hooking studio. It’s Slubby Blue from Nova Scotia’s The Fleece Artist and is by FAR the best yarn I have ever used for doll hair. I LOVE it. I’ve used locally-spun-plant-dyed local wool, I’ve used mohair, boucle, you name it, I’ve tried it and I’m telling you THIS IS THE STUFF.
I had to restock my doll making supplies and my usual “skin” supplier seems to have all but disappeared since 2008 so I went to a new supplier, the quality of their organic cotton jersey is really great. I was lucky I had a head made from wayyy back when as that’s the hardest part, once I had the pieces, assembly went pretty quickly. I didn’t have time to get a proper outfit made (this seems to be a pattern), but he is wearing a newborn kimono that Andrew wore as a newborn. It was a gift from our good friends Julianne and Rodney and one of those baby outfits you can’t part with.
When I showed him to Andrew and told him this was his baby he gave the baby a nuzzle and when I asked what we should name him, he gave an “ehhh” grunt, so we called him Ed. Ed it shall be and Andrew, he is your baby made by your mama with love on your number one birthday.
This weekend we celebrated our baby’s number ONE birthday. I can’t believe the year has come and gone. We all – my parents, my brother, friends – shook our heads and said “I can’t believe how much has changed in a year”. 366 days since we sold a business, sold a home, bought a home, moved a home, renovated a home and settled into a home. Grew a newborn into a toddler, watched our pre-school daughter blossom into a little girl with grown up teeth and a personality that has blossomed with room to use her imagination. Watched our pre-school son make meaninful friendships and settle into the community. It’s been amazing and we’ve never been happier.
We enjoyed a full weekend of celebrations with homemade pizza and cake on his actual birthday and a wagon ride through the woods courtesy of our “up the road” neighbour, Melbourne Smith. Melbourne is a man I have talked to only a few times since moving here but his passion for horses is evident in all he does. He truly is a “horse whisperer” and a master at training, showing and handling. We’re very lucky to have him close by and I hope to learn from him in the coming years. His quiet pride for his animals and confidence in his knowledge is impressive and inspiring.
The rhythmic movement of horses moving through a snow-covered woods road relaxed everyone and made some of the kids sleepy. We enjoyed conversation and the sunny Sunday air and the pleasure of company.
We celebrated with friends and food and conversation and ended the day exhausted and thankful for the community we have around us and for the growth of our family this past year.
Happy Birthday, baby. You changed everything for us and we’re so glad you did.
I’ve been kicked in the pants by a few folks, most recently the lovely Sarah to start blogging again. I promise, I will.
I have been up to my eyeballs in alligators, so my old boss, Tom Austin, used to say. Since January I have been producing like mad in preparation for the Atlantic Craft Trade Show, which took place in Halifax the first weekend in February. This was my first trip back to Halifax and left me with a lot of emotional loose ends to tie up. All five (!) of us went and while my friend Tory was very gracious in hosting us all, suffice to say that next year, I’m going alone.
The exhaustion of working the booth and nursing all night long with a baby who hadn’t seen me all day left me drained, and all five of us came down with various incarnations of the flu, which put me behind another ten days or so.
I’m almost caught up.
I find my hands are always so full of children/babies/work/home that I don’t think to take photos of my day, and when I do, weeks pass before I have a minute to take them off the camera and upload them. I’m making an effort to change that.
Many things are happening in the workshop these days. I made some hefty goals for Anointment this year and I’m working as hard as I can on about five different projects while simultaneously keeping my eyes on the fries, as it were. I’ve got a lot of building to do.
For now, I’ll leave you with this, a link to the article I have written this month for Oh My! Handmade Goodness. I have been thinking a lot about the changing retail landscape recently and thought you might enjoy this little taste of my experience with consignment.
People often say this to me: “I don’t know how you do it!” When I tell them I have three small children and run a business. With the oldest home sick from school today and the other two home (as is normal), it can be a tight fit to work with them. And this is what it often looks like. Today I am packing an order for one of our retail stores while my oldest creates her own books at my table and the middle child helps pack soap into boxes. The baby is asleep in a carrier on my back.
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