National military store selling fragrances of peace this Christmas
By Jill Kruse
Just in time for the holidays, some of the CANEX stores across Canada will be offering their customers The 7 Virtues Fragrance Collection created by Nova Scotia entrepreneur Barb Stegemann. Besides being a product which helps war-torn countries like Afghanistan, all sales at the CANEX this Christmas will also go towards helping military families.
“CANEX is both honoured and excited to provide The 7 Virtues line of Perfume to the Military Community,” says W.D. (Mac) McMillan, Vice-President of CANEX - Canadian Forces Exchange System. “We see retailing this product as an extension to our Support Our Troops Program in that all profits generated from CANEX are given back to the men and women in uniform and their families.”
McMillan explains that this is managed by providing monetary grants to base, wing and unit funds which are used for various morale and welfare programs operated locally.
“The 7 Virtues has a business ideology that emulates the efforts of our troops in Afghanistan,” says McMillan. “The humanitarian effort by the Canadian government through our military presence is similar to 7 Virtues providing a means for the local farmers to succeed without contributing to the illegal drug trade. Only Barb, with her contagious positive belief in humanity, would have the courage to work towards improving the lives of the people and its economy in a war-torn country. It is a wonderful initiative that CANEX is proud to assist with."
Participating CANEX stores include CFB Borden, Petawawa, NDHQ Expressmart, Labelle, ValCartier, Gagetown and 14 Wing Greenwood.
Barb Stegemann, founder of the 7Virtues Fragrance Line, says she is thrilled to place her product and her book at the CANEX stores at military bases. Recently designated an Honorary Colonel for CF Base Greenwood, Stegemann says she has always wanted to place her book and her product in the hands of military personnel and their families.
“This is a pilot project,” says Stegemann. “CANEX has not historically sold fragrance. During WWII soldiers used to bring fragrance home from France for their wives and girlfriends and mothers. We already get orders from soldiers from the US and Canada, so having it at CANEX is, I believe a great statement to the military families who’ve been purchasing our fragrance online. Now they can know their purchases support the mission and also financially support the military family. It is an honour to be an Honorary Colonel for the Canadian Military family and to serve and to do all that I can, to do some of the heavy lifting and engage others in our new way of building peace together.”
Stegemann began her venture into the perfume industry on her Visa card in the garage at her home in Nova Scotia just a year and a half ago. Since captivating the attention and support of philanthropic entrepreneur W. Brett Wilson on the CBC show Dragon’s Den last winter, her business has literally taken off with its successful launch at The Bay stores across the country.
“7 Virtues was born out of my best friend’s mission of peace on earth for others,” explains Stegemann. “I realized that as an everyday citizen, particularly as a woman that I didn’t have a way to support the mission, a way to touch peace and prosperity and empowerment for others. So doing trade to lift Afghanistan and Haiti and other nations is my small way of saying to the military family, you are not alone; that we as a business community will do some of the heavy lifting.”
The oils she buys from the farmers in Afghanistan helps them resist the pressure from the Taliban traders to grow the illegal poppy crop.
“My supplier’s goal is to get all of the farmers off of the illegal poppy crop,” says Stegemann. “His father and his mentor were killed by the Taliban. He, Abdullah Arsala, is a wise and brave man and had 2,500 muslim farmers praying for me when I met with Macy’s. I feel business is the missing link and we have got to do more work to foster peace and support the troops’ mission in a concrete way. So this holiday season, this is one way to concretely build peace on earth through a product.”
Stegemann says it is rewarding for her to have her fragrance collection and book at CANEX because the profits go to military families and projects. It’s also personally meaningful to her because she wrote her book, The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen, for soldiers and men and women in transition.
“It is dedicated to my best friend, Captain Trevor Greene who was wounded in Afghanistan and (who) has made a beautiful healing journey with his family,” explains Stegemann. “I have always wanted to get my book into the hands of the members of the military family, so I am giving a free book with each fragrance purchase to CANEX. A dream come true to say the least.”
With the addition of the CANEX, Stegemann says her 7 Virtues product line will be sold in well over 100 stores including the 91 Hudson Bay stores across Canada. She is a regular on The Shopping Channel and is currently discussing the possibilities with stores in US and European markets.
For more information on The 7 Virtues Fragrance collection, visit www.the7virtues.com.
Photos: top Barb Stegemann, Founder and CEO of The 7 Virtues Fragrances and Honorary Colonel for 14 Wing Command Greenwood with her partner Mike Velemirovich. Front page and above the sales display of The 7 Virtues Fragrance line at the CANEX in Petawawa, Ontario.