22 Jun 2017
Perfume for peace-Our House Spring 2017
The following is from the Spring issue of Dominion Lending Centres’ Our House Magazine.
A Halifax-based entrepreneur runs her flourishing fragrance business from home
From her home in Halifax, N.S., Barb Stegemann could be on the phone with a supplier halfway around the world and have her daughter’s favourite casserole in the oven at the same time.
As founder and CEO of The 7 Virtues, running her fragrance business from home lets Stegemann grow her company and still spend quality time with her family.
“It’s living the dream,” she says. “I don’t get in my car and drive to a location two hours away. I can get up at 5:30 in the morning and walk down the hall to my office, grab a decaf and start working. I really love the serenity of that.”
And it’s a lifestyle that completely fits with the company she founded nearly a decade ago.
The 7 Virtues makes fragrances using fair-market natural essential oils sourced from nations rebuilding after war and conflict, such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Rwanda and countries in the Middle East. All the fragrances are vegan and free of phthalates and parabens. The farmers who supply the oils earn as much as two and a half times the income of the next crop, enabling them to purchase school uniforms for their children and build homes.
Born from tragedy
As Stegemann explains, she was living in B.C. when a friend was wounded serving in the Canadian military. She visited him regularly in the hospital for a year and told him she would take up his mission of peace. Stegemann picked up a pen and wrote her first book, the best-selling The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen: A Woman’s Guide to Living and Leading in an Illogical World. The company hit the national stage when Stegemann appeared on the popular CBC show Dragons’ Den in 2010 to make a business pitch to the cast. She caught the eye of the Dragons, the business investors on the show, getting $75,000 for a 15 per cent stake in her company. In 2013, she was chosen by the Dragons and viewers as the Top Game Changer in the history of the show for making a social difference with her company. From there, she created her line of fragrances and hasn’t looked back. The company continues to grow globally, a success Stegemann pegs to the honesty of the product. She says that in a world filled with clutter, the ideals of the seven virtues, such as truth, courage, justice, and wisdom, have resonated with people. Stegemann says her fragrance line is an example of leading with those principles.
“People want to know what success looks like,” she says. “It’s in your divine, it’s in your soul and it’s in your leadership of what is right, what is ethical and what is good. More so now than ever, we really need people to draw courage and speak up and speak truth to power and do what’s right.”
With growth comes responsibility
As the company grows, Stegemann’s goal is to reach more people and turn The 7 Virtues into an international brand. She views her company as creating solutions for women who want products without harmful chemicals. And it’s all accomplished from the CEO’s home. Although the company has a distribution centre in Toronto, Stegemann still tests products out of her garage.
“We’re not built to turn on creativity at nine and shut it off at five,” she says. Stegemann says she started the company at home because she didn’t want to leave her kids. Thanks to the success of The 7 Virtues, she is running a thriving home-based business and now her kids are by her side, lending a helping hand.