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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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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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Support the Metallic Family – soap style!


Remember that day when you met your first baby? When you held that little being in your arms and everything inside you shifted? When you realized that the world was bigger than your place in it, that what you considered priorities before were put on the back burner? When you realized that your heart really could grow immeasurably with love for that child.

The days seem long but the time passes quickly. Little ones grow up, they gain independence. They go off to start the process of building their lives independent of you. You wonder where the time went and think back to all of the wonderful times you shared.

Imagine your child, now at university, goes out on a Saturday night and Sunday morning can’t be found. Your phone rings, the police are on the other end, explaining that your child is missing. No one has seen him. He was not dressed for the weather. He does not have his wallet or phone.

You drive, terrified, mind racing, to the town where your child is living. A day goes by. The shoes your son was wearing are found, but no trace of your child. A day goes by. You search. You don’t sleep. You can’t eat. You cry. Another day goes by, you beg, you are angry, frustrated, tired. A week passes. You start the grieving process. You alternate between hope and despair. You are away from home living a mother’s worst nightmare.

*****************

A young man, Chris Metallic, has been missing in our community since November 25. His family have been living in a local hotel while co-ordinating ground searches, air searches and the search for answers on what happened to their son. As a community we are shocked and saddened that a person can simply vanish from our small town without a trace.

As a mother, I ache for this family. So many others I’ve spoken to feel the same way.

The first Saturday after the RCMP search had been called off the family, volunteers from their home community of Lituguj, QC and locals rallied to begin another thorough ground search. I passed the searchers as they were breaking for lunch. I came home and baked 3 dozen blueberry muffins to deliver to the searchers for their afternoon snack. Unfortunately when I returned, they had moved on. I couldn’t remove myself from their pain and kept wondering “what would I want my community to do if it were ME in that situation?”

The following Tuesday the family held a Mi’gmaq smudge and flag raising ceremony at Mount Allison University where Chris is in his third year. I made a point to attend and was again overcome with emotion for this family and their situation. What could I do? Then it dawned on me. I’m a soap maker. I make SMUDGE SOAP. So, I set about making a batch of soap in the scent of cedar and sage to sell. All proceeds go to the family to use in their efforts to be reunited with their son.

If you’re looking for a way to pay it forward and spread a little holiday spirit and would enjoy a tangible object as a reward, here is your chance! As I type this the scent of sage and cedar are filling the air of my workshop. Order online, or come see me at the Sackville Farmer’s Market. Every little bit helps!

Happy Holidays!

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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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The Perfect Soap Dish

Shave Soap, all lathered up

Sarah Bonnyman Round Soap Dish

I often get asked by people new to round soap (and handmade soap) what kind of soap dish to use. The best answer is a draining soap dish that has slots to allow your soap to dry between uses. Natural soap contains a significant amount of glycerine which is produced in the super-interesting but complicated-from-a-chemistry-perspective saponification process. This glycerine makes your soap soft, silky and a treat for your skin. Our soap also contains 50% olive oil, which makes it soft and remarkably gentle. If the soap is allowed to sit in a puddle of water, you will eventually end up with ‘smoosh’ for lack of a better technical term. Drainage is key and with proper storage, your bar of Anointment soap should last for weeks – well beyond the commercial stuff!

This summer I went to check my mail box and found this lovely gift carefully wrapped and packaged from one of our longtime customers – you know you have a loyal following when your customers send you gifts in the mail, it was a treat that warmed my heart – and don’t worry, I sent a gift back as a thank you!

This soap dish fits all the requirements for a natural, round soap like Anointment‘s. It is crafted by Sarah Bonnyman, a potter in Tatamagouche, NS. The raised slots allow water to drain and the size is just perfect for our soaps. Having looked on her website, I don’t see said soap dish available, but if you happen to be in Tatamagouche, check out her shop, or give her a call, I’m sure she’d love to hear from you!

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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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Sunflower + Calendula Soap

Last week I had the opportunity to lead a soapmaking workshop with a small group of youth from the Sackville Community Garden. Using organic sunflower oil and dried calendula (a type of marigold with excellent skin soothing properties) from their garden we made a small batch of a lovely mild soap.

This was a first for me – I have never given a soapmaking workshop before. I have learned that my workshop space is not particularly well suited to having a group of people! I did enjoy the process and got a rare chance to experiment with a new recipe AND make soap in a rectangular mold for the first time (oh how it is so simple compared to round molds)! It remains to be seen how interested the youth were – their willingness to participate in the process – well, they were a bit stoic about the whole thing but maybe they’ll come to appreciate it later on.

Sunflower oil contains a high percentage of high-oleic acid oils which makes the soap much slower to harden than I am used to – after 48 hours they were still easily ‘smooshable’ when removing them from the molds.

Sunflower + Calendula Soap

This soap also contains a small amount of annatto seed infused in the lye, giving the soap a lovely light yellow colour and tiny reddish flecks. I can’t wait to try it out and compare it to the super-secret-and-highly-coveted Anointment soap formula.

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Pink Grapefruit Soap!

Pink Grapefruit + Vanilla

Introducing a new {limited edition} soap just for summer – Pink Grapefruit with a hint of REAL vanilla! This one was a real nail-biter to create as the colourant starts out brown and it was very touch and go as to whether we’d get a lovely pink tone or Fundy mud brown. Luckily it worked out just as we had hoped.

With a combination of pink and white grapefruit essential oils and just a wee spec of coveted real vanilla essential oil, this is a soap not to be missed. Its appearances at the Sackville Farmer’s Market in Sackville, NB have given it an amazing reception – this soap MAY end up in our usual repertoire as a few of our soaps are due for retirement (more information on that coming very soon).

Available soon from The Crofter in Sackville, NB, Flow Lifestyle Boutique in Amherst, NS and Twice Upon A Time in Halifax, NS.

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The Coast Summer Shopping Guide – Halifax, NS

Anointment in The Coast, Halifax

Anointment‘s Rose Toner, Herbal Clay Cleanser and Soothing Skin Ointment were featured in The Coast’s Summer Shopping Guide in Halifax, NS. Also super popular this summer: Lime and Seaweed Soaps.

Find them at your local retailer or order online.