Barbara Stegemann became known to millions of Canadians when she became the first woman from Atlantic Canada to land a venture-capital deal on the CBC TV show Dragons’ Den. Her perfume company, The 7 Virtues, sources organic, fair trade essential oils from countries experiencing turmoil, such as Afghanistan, Haiti, the Middle East, and Rwanda, to create their scents.
Barbara’s entrepreneurial vision was formed after her best friend — a soldier — was severely wounded in Afghanistan. Wanting to help, she created The 7 Virtues to support Afghanistan’s economy in hopes of building stability for its people. For her first scent, Barbara purchased legal orange blossom and rose essential oils from farmers in Afghanistan — paying them twice what they could make selling the illegal poppy crop.
While her company was doing well, she realized that she was missing a key demographic – millennials. In an article in Women’s Wear Daily, she discusses how, with the guidance of Sephora Canada, she was able to refresh and rebrand her company to appeal to this previously untapped market. Below is a snippet from the article. Read the full piece here.
Even with funding and passion, Stegemann faced growing pains endemic to start-up beauty companies. In particular, she felt she wasn’t making an impact with an important buying group — younger women including her millennial daughter. She had the opportunity to bring her products to Sephora where she learned about the company’s Accelerate program (which is dedicated to building a community of female founders). She asked to apply and was subsequently selected. During the boot camp-like experience at Sephora, Stegemann was advised to rethink her entire positioning. “I had to let go of my old ideas or I wasn’t going to be able to really help farmers. We were surviving but not thriving.”
Under the guidance of the Sephora team, Stegemann revamped her entire line including all new scents and packaging. With alacrity, she relaunched and debuted within 11 months in Sephora Canada in February of this year.
The new collection is made with natural oils from Afghanistan, Haiti, India, Madagascar, The Middle East and Rwanda. The packaging highlights notes, ingredients and the countries that benefit from the production of the fragrances. She said it broadened the appeal to younger shoppers. “Now my daughter even buys my fragrances,” she said.
The 7 Virtues is expanding online at Sephora this month with plans for 100 stores in August. That includes a launch of the Peace Blend Box, which retails for $28 and includes all seven scents. Prices range from $28 for rollerballs of the signature scents to $77 for the full eau de parfum. All fragrances are made with organic sugar cane alcohol.
Interested in learning more about Barbara and what she can bring to your next event? Contact us at [email protected].