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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 WINS BEST BOOTH

Atlantic Craft Trade Show Best Booth 2014

Anointment participated in the 39th annual Atlantic Craft Trade Show in Halifax, NS this past weekend. This was our third time exhibiting, our second time as a stand-alone booth (our first year was as an exhibitor in the New Brunswick Craft Council booth). With a few trade shows under our belts, we’ve devised a display that is easy to assemble/disassemble but still contains lots of interest and details. These photos were all taken with my phone and unfortunately in large convention centers glare is a problem so my apologies for the poor photography.

ACTS 2014 Halifax, NS

With a 10′ x 10′ corner space to work in, we angled our vinyl backdrop to invite people into our space. A table was positioned in front of the backdrop to hold our product. Using lots of props including antique fish boxes, a vintage cardboard suitcase, a vintage child’s chair and some antique books, we created lots of visual interest and height variations.
ACTS, Halifax 2014

Our tablecloth always gets lots of attention. It was purchased at fabricworm.com several seasons ago and is from Japanese fabric designer Etsuko Fuyura. It is a combination of 45% linen and 55% cotton which gives it a lovely drape. The colours just work perfectly with our branding.

With every trade show we add a few more lights. It seems you can never have enough. Using six high-impact halogen lights, the backdrop and table were lit to avoid any shadows and to highlight the look of light filtering through amber glass.

Our backdrop was decorated with hand stitched forest animals that I made using wool felt on rug hooking burlap. Each one depicts the animal from each of our New Mom & Baby products.

The remaining white generic pipe and drape was decorated with large flowers that repeat the floral patterns on our labels in a variety of bright colours. These flowers are copied onto card stock, cut out with an Xacto knife and then hung with monofilament thread (fishing line).

card stock flowers

This year I was so pleased to learn that we were voted BEST BOOTH by a panel of judges from the Craft Alliance. Visual merchandising doesn’t come easily to me and I will admit that I set up our booth over a week in a spare room in our home so I could evaluate, change, and re-arrange until I was happy. Presentation is so important to how a business is perceived in a highly competitive trade show, so it is important to put your best foot forward, even if it sometimes seems like more effort than it is worth.

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The Storefronts of Anointment: Cuddly Bunny Co.

Cuddly Bunny Co.

{Photo by Cuddly Bunny Co.}

At 191 Queen Street in Port Perry, Ontario you will find Cuddly Bunny Co. Carrying a selection of our mom & baby care line, Cuddly Bunny operates a retail store filled with baby clothing, supplies, gift ware, party supplies and balloons and even feature a gift registry. Stop in and say hello!

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What IS an Om Shanti, anyway?

Om Shanti Soap

Om Shanti. Our most popular soap with a sweet, intoxicating smell combining pure cinnamon and patchouli essential oils with the decadence of certified organic and fairly traded coffee grounds and cocoa powder. It holds its scent forever and I’m told it can be habit forming. Case in point: people present themselves to me at craft fairs and my Farmer’s Market booth with their remaining slivers in a baggie so they can ‘compare’ scents and get the right soap when they’ve forgotten the name.

A question I get asked a lot is “what is Om Shanti?” My lovely mother-in-law (also an Om Shanti lover) refers to it as “Chianti“, but that’s a type of wine. Not the same thing.

The “Om” is a meditation sound used in yoga practice and many Eastern religions including Hinduism and Buddhism. Om Shanti is a phrase that means “to bring peace”.

Patchouli essential oil is derived from a member of the mint family grown in India. Its earthy scent is often associated with the 1960s – the decade of swamis and enlightenment. Cinnamon is also grown in India and Sri Lanka, making Om Shanti soap heavily influenced by Indian traditions.

The Om symbol is popular in jewelry, clothing, and accessories – and of course, our soap!

Om in the world

1. Om Belt Buckle, Pip Robins
2. Keep Calm and Carry Om, adropofgoldensun
3. Om Mug, ThrowingShop
4. Om Necklace, Perini Designs

Ironically, the t-shirt I reserved for my Grade 10 Phys. Ed. class had a beautiful blue and purple Om symbol embroidered on it. As a 15-year-old, I had no idea what it meant but looking back, perhaps I hoped I could be at peace with my lack of basketball skills.

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Anointment + Bummis = A Match Made in Heaven


:: A photo of April, Owner of Anointment and Jolyn, Owner of Nurtured at the Toronto Kid Show January 2013.

Bummis and Anointment have entered into a fantastic partnership – beginning this year Anointment Baby Balm samples will be included in every Organic Cotton Diaper Kit and BeautifulBASIC Cloth Diaper Kit distributed in North America. We are SO THRILLED about this partnership, and we wanted to share with you a little blog post written by Betsy, co-owner of Bummis about the new relationship!

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The Storefronts of Anointment: Bogside Gallery

Bogside Gallery
Barbara Roberts, Owner of Bogside Gallery

{photo by eyecandy SIGNS INC.}

Bogside Gallery in the Hydrostone Market (5527 Young Street) in Halifax, Nova Scotia’s North End is a treasure in itself. Built post-Halifax explosion, the Hydrostone Market has a uniquely European feeling and is a great neighbourhood for a leisurely stroll, a delicious coffee and croissant from nearby Julien’s European Bakery.

Barbara carefully curates the selection at Bogside Gallery and features Atlantic Canada’s artists and artisans. You’ll find a great selection of gifts and art for yourself and anyone you might be shopping for. Bogside stocks our wet shaving kits, a selection of soaps and baby care.

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The Storefronts of Anointment: The Crofter

The Crofter in Sackville, NB – home of Anointment Natural Skin Care headquarters. Owned by Heather Patterson, The Crofter is a great little gift and toy shop located in the heart of downtown Sackville on Bridge Street. Snuggled away in a heritage building the hardwood floors creak as you walk in while Heather and Eva work incredibly hard to create beautifully merchandised displays to pique your interest. In business for over 40 years, The Crofter is definitely a landmark in downtown Sackville. It’s worth the drive!

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Behind the Scenes Part III

During my lunch break I:

goldfish

:: fed the gold fish, Goldie and John.

Anubis

:: Made sure the dog was still breathing. He was.

lunch

:: 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.

more belly butter

:: 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.

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Behind the Scenes Part II

Filling Rose Toner

:: It’s a rainy grey day outside and the lighting is poor in the workshop today, sorry for the shadows and sharp contrasts! Filling Rose Toner bottles one at a time…

cooling Belly Butter butters

:: Had only just started filling the Rose Toner bottles when the butters for Belly Butter had cooled and were ready to go. There is a trick to cooling the butters, but I’m going to keep it my little secret…

stickering the bottles

:: Adding the lot number stickers to the jars in prep for bottling. The lot numbers correspond to the date the product was made NOT the expiry date (which is generally about 12 months from production).

Whip it Good!

:: The butters are combined with oils and emulsifiers and whipped at high speed until they reach an optimum thickness – it is REALLY tricky to do this, it is either too thin or it thickens too fast. Time, patience and lots of experience is the only way to get it right. Temperature also plays a HUGE factor. Too hot and it won’t solidify, too cool and it hardens too fast. I had lots of trouble in the heat of summer getting product to set properly.

One batch of Belly Butter

:: The results of one batch of Belly Butter. Tiny, tiny batches!

LUNCH BREAK!

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Behind the Scenes

Workshop Buff

:: It appears that I could use more sleep! Got my ‘soapmaking buff’ on – far cuter than a hairnet but makes me feel like a Russian Matroyshka doll. Pencil securely tucked behind ear. Here’s what I’m listening to while I work: 8 Tracks Mashups.

Belly Butter Bowls

:: Stainless Steel bowls sterilized and ready for Belly Butter-making.

Recipes and Production Notes

::Essentials: production notes binder, super-secret well-loved folder of recipes, black Sharpie, good pencil.

Melted Butter

:: Melting the butters for Belly Butter, our most labour-intensive (pardon the pun) product!

Rose Toner Bottles

:: Sterilizing and Disinfecting the Rose Toner bottles

Soothing Skin Ointment

:: Step 1 of Soothing Skin Ointment: the herbal infusion. Inspirational (and good reminder) plaque hanging behind the stove.