Business & Finance
953 Words

Catching up with Halifax entrepreneur Barb Stegemann

Supplied Publicity Photo
Barb Stegemann, founder of The 7 Virtues, a Halifax-based fragrance company Supplied Publicity Photo

Make perfume not war. That's the motto behind Barb Stegemann's fragrance company, The 7 Virtues. Her company sources fair-market essential oils from war-torn nations and is a soaring success — thanks in part to her emotional investment pitch on CBC's Dragons' Den nearly six years ago.

Three Dragons sought to partner and mentor Stegemann on the show, minus one current Conservative leadership candidate: Kevin O’Leary.

In a twist of fate, Stegemann found herself opening for O'Leary at a speaking engagement.

“People thought we were going to duke it out,” reflects Stegemann.

Any potential drama was quickly diffused as O’Leary made a backstage confession to the Nova Scotia-based businesswoman: “I really missed the boat.”

Halifax entrepreneur Barb Stegemann’s memorable pitch on CBC's Dragons’ Den lured three Dragons to her fragrance company.
Halifax entrepreneur Barb Stegemann’s memorable pitch on CBC's Dragons’ Den lured three Dragons to her fragrance company. Screen capture

Stegemann is part of a growing number of social entrepreneurs — companies whose goal is to do social good and turn a profit. The company's sourcing of essential oils from Haiti, Rwanda, Ghana, India and Afghanistan has been a powerful weapon for peace.

In Afghanistan, farmers who grow poppies for heroin production are at risk of having their daughters taken by the Taliban if the crops fail.

“But if that farmer is growing legal rose or orange, then nobody can take their child,” Stegemann says.

"We’re going to buy makeup, lipstick and moisturizer anyway, so why wouldn’t we ensure that whatever it is we’re buying is sourcing something that can contribute to other people’s lives and nations rebuilding?”

An Afghani worker sourcing essential oils for Halifax-based The 7 Virtues.
An Afghani worker sourcing essential oils for Halifax-based The 7 Virtues. Supplied photo

On a recent volunteer trip to Haiti, Stegemann was shocked to learn just how much of an obstacle corruption is to nations rebuilding. Just a day before she arrived, a Norwegian Aid Boat was turned away by Haitian officials demanding bribes that the ship couldn’t pay.

"I’m still livid,” says Stegemann. “All of the billions that went into Haiti could have fixed it, and it’s still a mess.”

The key, she says, to ending corruption is economic empowerment.

“That’s where the old charity model turns a blind eye... Did [the money] really empower them?”

Passionate about social enterprise, Stegemann doesn’t believe in charity. “For me, as an entrepreneur, I would far rather do fair trade and invest in people. There’s so much dignity lost when you’re dependent upon charity.”

Raised by a single mother on social assistance in rural Nova Scotia, Stegemann knows this first-hand.

Read the full 953 word post

Support independent Canadian arts coverage

Rodney Daw / Air Farce Productions Inc.
Television
815 Words

Looking back at 25 years of Air Farce on TV

Air Farce founding member Don Ferguson shares the behind-the-scenes story about how the troupe made the leap from radio to TV.

Air Farce Productions Inc.
Television
243 Words

Photo Gallery: Air Farce in pictures 1971-2017

A visual history of Canada’s iconic comedy troupe Air Farce, which celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2018.

Supplied photo
Business & Finance
106 Words

Beauty and the Beast is Canada's top grossing film of 2017

Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast towered over its box office competition in Canada, earning $46.744 million in 2017.

Supplied photo
Business & Finance
162 Words

'Coco' tops the week's Canadian box office with $2.4 million

The top 10 grossing films in Canada from December 1 to 7, 2017

Supplied photo
#MyArtsculture
552 Words

Jenn Grant shares her top Halifax cultural spots

Folk-pop singer-songwriter about to tour again in support of her latest album, Paradise.

Supplied photo
Television
579 Words

Conor Woodman talks Hunting Nazi Treasure

History Canada’s new series documents a real-life, present day search for stolen Nazi works of art.