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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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{details}

Adapted from Soulemama‘s “…Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.”

Rather than capture a “moment”, I feel inspired to capture the small details around me, to remind me to stop and smell the roses in this new iteration of our lives.

first day of school

If you’ve noticed interesting {details} around you, please share or leave a link in the comments.

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Anointment Soap = Stain Remover

Anointment Soap takes the stain out!
Anointment Soap takes the stain out!
Anointment Soap takes the stain out!

This topic has come up a few times now but this is the first true customer testimonial that has come in complete with photos! I have three kids, a dog, two cats and eight hens (not in the house – most of the time). I have a lot of messes – and when it comes to carpet and bedding, I certainly reach for a bar of soap and start scrubbing. I have noticed that it works really well to get tough stains (vomit, peanut butter on carpet and paint are three that come to mind recently) out.

Another friend and longtime Anointment customer sent me a quick note one day to tell me that when her usual stain remover didn’t work, scrubbing with a bar of Anointment soap DID!

And this recent email (and above photos) from my dear friend and long-time Anointment customer, Taryn (also a mom of three):

“[My daughter] got paint on her top at preschool. I wish I had more pics. I tried hair spray, rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover with a nail brush – nada! So I grabbed the bar of lavender and used it to wash away some of the above mentioned chemicals. Magically the stain looked lighter. More lavender and a little nail brush, gonzo!!!! This shirt was ruined. Not now!”

If you’ve got tough stains and a bar of Anointment soap (scent doesn’t matter), scrub away! An easy, effective and environmentally safe way to deal with stubborn messes around the house! Let me know how it works – leave your comments below!

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pasta punctuation

pasta punctuation

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.

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Catherine MacLellan house concert

We are hosting a house concert with the lovely and talented Catherine MacLellan SATURDAY, JULY 14 at 8 pm at our home in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. I will have tickets available at the Sackville Farmer’s Market Saturday, July 7 and Saturday, July 14. You can also contact me if you’d like to make arrangements for tickets.

Come one, come all. You don’t want to miss this!

She’ll be playing in our 110 year old parlour with great acoustics – her guitarist is coming too, the full meal deal! See the Facebook event for extras and details!

In case you need more (from catherinemaclellan.com):

    Winner at the 2010 East Coast Music Awards:

  • Female Solo Recording of the Year
  • Folk Recording of the Year
    Four time winner at the Music PEI Awards!

  • Songwriter of the Year: Catherine MacLellan – “Take a Break”
  • Female Vocalist of the Year: Catherine MacLellan
  • Album of the Year: Catherine MacLellan – Water in the Ground
  • Folk Recording of the Year: Catherine MacLellan – Water in the Ground
    Winner for Solo Artist of the Year at 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards

  • #1 Roots Artist on iTunes Canada
  • PEI winner for CBC Radio 2 – Canadian Song Quest

YOU SHOULD COME!

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Spring {bee} Cleaning



Honey


Hopefully there aren’t too many of you having heart palpitations at the sight of so many bees! It was time to open the hive and check out how our colony did over the winter, clean out the detritus of the winter and get the hive ready for another season. We’re thrilled they made it through just fine and have about thirty pounds of honey to spare. We are working on getting that honey out of there so they have plenty of room for this year’s production (and we can enjoy the spoils) – this is proving more difficult than we thought since of course the engineers want to build their own centrifuge. We’re gathering parts…

I’m excited that oatmeal + honey soap will soon be made with honey by our own bee colony. Gathered from the clover and goldenrods of the Tantramar Marshes.

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Spring Chicks

Spring Chickies - 3 weeks old

Oh it has been so long. Life has caught up with me again and in the day-to-day-ness of it all, I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon. I think of it a lot, if that means anything!

We’ve had a full spring – and spring came early, which means we’ve had lots of projects happening around this old farmhouse including the arrival of our spring chicks! We have eight baby laying hens that for a month lived in a cardboard box in our mudroom with a heat lamp shining over them night and day. Their yellow fuzz quickly gave way to “grown up” feathers and while the kids were enamored with their new feathered friends I was relieved that the cats and dog didn’t give them the time of day.

A weekend’s worth of work (thank you Kent and Steve) on Jeff’s behalf means the chicks are now living in a corner of our barn that my brother has dubbed “the Taj Mahal” – it’s a pretty sweet hen house complete with wood paneling and vinyl flooring (scrap, I might add). We were able to reuse a door that was removed during our renovations. The chicks, who are largely un-named except for two – Brown Betty and Ginger – seem pretty happy in their new homes. We’re hoping to have daily egg deposits by September.

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Jeff & April MacKinnon Win Premier’s Award for Energy Efficiency

This week Jeff and I and, by extension, Anointment Natural Skin Care, were the recipients of the Premier’s Award for Energy Efficiency. We attended a gala evening in Fredericton and were presented with a beautiful award made by New Brunswick potter Tim Isaac.

Jeff and April MacKinnon – Energy Efficiency Champion – Residential Sector

Our Home

Jeff and April MacKinnon and their three children moved from Nova Scotia to Sackville in April 2011, and into a 150-year-old Victorian farmhouse overlooking the Tantramar Marsh. Even before taking possession they began to research how to make their home more comfortable and much more energy efficient. The MacKinnons had some experience with energy efficiency upgrades having improved the EnerGuide rating of their Nova Scotia home by 30 rating points and reducing their energy bills by almost 50 per cent.

Shortly after moving in they had an energy advisor conduct a pre-upgrade assessment, the first step in their extensive energy efficiency retrofit. The most significant recommendation from the assessment report was to replace their home’s electric baseboards with an energy efficient central heating system. Jeff determined that with the grants available from the Efficiency NB’s Residential Energy Efficiency Program and the federal ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program, a ground source heat pump would provide an efficient system with low operational costs and a reasonable investment payback period.

Over a five month period the family took a top-to-bottom approach to make their home more efficient. The heritage home that, at one time, was the site of a post office, blacksmith shop and grocery store, was retrofitted from an EnerGuide 36 to 76, as energy efficient as an average new home built today.

In addition to the ground source heat pump and modern ductwork and controls, the MacKinnons added spray foam insulation to the basement stone walls (R12) and the header space (R18), blown-in insulation to the attic bringing the level from R0 to R50, they replaced six windows, choosing ENERGY STAR qualified models in locations that would maximize solar heat gain and they also carried out extensive air sealing with the use of caulking and weather stripping throughout the home.

Jeff says prioritizing which areas to improve, selecting products to use and working with contractors & suppliers was made easier with the resources available on Efficiency NB’s website. The site’s Resource Centre features presentations and other helpful links and resources on topics such as insulation, heating systems and building materials. “With the use of these resources we were able to make informed decisions,” he explained.
The MacKinnons are proud of what they have accomplished over the past year and have become advocates for energy
efficiency and Efficiency NB in their community. Jeff feels that retrofits are better for the environment than building a new home considering the total carbon footprint required to clear land, create and transport new materials, construct the building and dispose of waste. “The greenest and most efficient home is one that’s already built,” he says. They are often asked about the work they’ve completed and are quick to emphasize to the importance of doing research and using resources like those available through Efficiency NB prior to undertaking an energy retrofit.

Jeff and April were chosen as the recipients of the Energy Efficiency Champion – Residential Sector Award for their
impressive retrofit which improved their home’s EnerGuide rating by 40 points and reduced energy consumption by
over 60 per cent.

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Follow Your Heart To Financial Success

Progress Magazine
Progress Magazine
Progress Magazine Volume 19, No. 2

The following is an article written about Anointment Natural Skin Care in the latest issue of Progress Magazine, a regional business magazine.

[small business]

Follow Your Heart To Financial Success

“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