Don’t worry; this isn’t going to be a lecture about how you should love your neighbours, be kind to animals, or stuff like that. This is actually a pretty inspiring story, and it involves perfume. What’s better than that?
Wednesday night, I was typing away on a project, and sort of paying attention to the show Dragons Den on CBC. I believe there’s a US equivalent called “Shark Tank” or something like that. Anyway, it’s like “The Gong Show” for entrepreneurs. People pitch their ideas to 5 very successful Canadian venture capitalists to see if they can entice them into investing in their ideas. Of course, more people get turned away than receive financing. It’s almost like watching Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” without having to invest weeks and weeks watching the assorted soap operas develop. Either the Dragons say, “I’m out”, or they make an offer. It’s up to the individual entrepreneurs whether or not to accept.
One Barb Stegemann from Nova Scotia faced the Dragons with her fragrance. She handed them each a bottle and explained that it was made with organic orange blossom essence grown in Afghanistan by farmers whom she had contracted to grow the flowers for her, instead of growing poppies. She was asking for financing to expand distribution of her scent, explaining that her project was offering an honest living to farmers who once grew poppies for opiates. The Dragons were intrigued, and a few of them had very strong, positive reactions to her fragrance. When asked why she was embarking on this venture, Stegemann replied that she was doing it to fulfill a promise to a friend of hers, a Canadian Forces soldier who was badly wounded while serving in Afghanistan. After she revealed that, the tears started to flow, the wallets flew open, and the purse strings were untied.
I could tell right away that Barb Stegemann meant business. Her demeanour and her determination were obvious. In other words, the woman really had her shit together. The Dragons were not only impressed by the scent and the story, they were impressed by the packaging and the overall presentation. Good for her. I immediately Googled “The 7 Virtues”, landed on the Web site, and was ready to order up a bottle of the scent, when I saw that Barb got her wish: The 7 Virtues is now available at 13 Bay locations across Canada, and at several independent boutiques. One of the Bay locations is Yorkdale, and I couldn’t get over there fast enough.
The 7 Virtues Afghanistan Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum is heavenly: it is the perfect blend of orange blossom, freesia, with a bit of jasmine lurking in the background. I loved it on the spot. And many of you know I’m a sucker for a good orange blossom. And it is good.
The story gets better: the second scent, The 7 Virtues Noble Rose of Afghanistan, is a spicy rose after my own heart: rose, clove, peppercorn and carnation. I’m not the biggest rose fan; but when it’s spiced up like this one is, I’m in. Each bottle is $70 Canadian for 50 ml. How could you not?
In the grand scheme of things, a couple of bottles of scent are never going to solve the world’s problems. But when someone comes along who wants to do their tiny part to try, you have to admire that. There are plans in the works for a scent that will utilize Vetiver grown in Haiti and other scents that will include ingredients from poverty stricken areas of the world, where people need ways to earn a living. I know this isn’t a new idea – the Body Shop, Lush, Ojon, and countless other beauty companies claim to have Fair Trade ingredients in their products, and are helping people all over the world. I’m all for it. I’m even more impressed when I get to witness the birth of something, and watch it grow. I only hope that Barb and her fragrances continue to help the impoverished people of Afghanistan. It’s inspiring, uplifting, and it doesn’t stink. It actually smells wonderful.
For more about Barb and The 7 Virtues, click here.
Disclosure: Both scents were sampled at The Bay.