When Eclair Lips founder Sylvie Roy landed in New Brunswick from her native Ontario in 2016, the entrepreneur arrived at a pivotal crossroads. After establishing her company as a “side hustle” in 2015, Roy and her all-natural, homemade lip balms had found modest success via its online Etsy store.
What she didn’t necessarily foresee happening after moving to the Greater Moncton area with her family was the path that would ultimately lead Eclair Lips from its humble beginnings as a home-based operation to having signed its first lease for an industrial workspace.
“I credit a lot of the company’s success to the support I’ve received from being in New Brunswick,” Roy says. “Between the knowledge sharing, funding and assistance I’ve been given and the resources that entrepreneurs have available at their disposal is far above what was available in Ontario.”
Contending with limited space availability at craft fairs throughout Southern Ontario somewhat constrained Roy’s ability to grow Eclair Lips’ full potential. But in New Brunswick, she not only found an abundance of opportunity to get her product in front of consumers, she also found a buying public willing to take a chance on the little guy.
“It was my experience that consumers here want to buy something local or handmade. They recognize that keeping their money in province isn’t just helping that business, it’s helping the provincial economy, as well. I didn’t always get that impression while I was in Ontario. What’s been most touching for me has been the way that everyone is rooting for us and our success. When we first arrived in New Brunswick, income from the business was minimal, and now, it’s a full-time job for both my husband [Mario LeBlanc] and I.”
Aside from the desire to grow her business, there were several other factors behind the decision to move to New Brunswick. Between a full-time job, raising two small children and a daily commute topping 2.5 hours, Roy admits to feeling pulled in many different directions.
But perhaps the most important reason behind the family’s relocation to New Brunswick was the well-being of their children. In 2016, Roy and LeBlanc’s daughter was diagnosed as autistic. A significant factor in helping the family decide to call New Brunswick home was the fact she could benefit from the preschool autism services provided by the province.
“She’s just blossoming and doing great,” Roy says, adding their second daughter recently received the same diagnosis.
“Being in a province where these services are so accessible means a lot. And that makes it extra rewarding to be able to contribute to the province’s economic development since living here has impacted our family so positively.”
The seed for what would become Eclair Lips was planted while Roy was a lip balm-buying pre-teen.
“I always had a love for lip balm,” she says. “It wasn’t a cosmetic that changed the way you looked, but just incorporated a bunch of different flavours, which made it more fun than anything else. By the time I hit my 20’s, I had started using natural lip balm, but found myself missing the flavours I loved in my teens. I then went in search for lip balms that were made from natural ingredients, and instead decided to begin making my own.”
Joking that it’s equally impossible to make a small batch of muffins as it is a small batch of lip balm, Roy began sharing her creation with friends, who further encouraged her to pursue her passion. A background in cosmetic marketing helped Roy solidify her interests and passions into what she deems was a somewhat unlikely business plan.
More importantly, however, with the advent of her line of lip balm, Roy was putting into a position where she could help counter the frequent negative stereotypes put forward by major cosmetic companies.
“In the days where I was working in cosmetic marketing, it really hit home how women are primarily targeted with toxic messaging that there’s something wrong with their appearance,” Roy says. “I love that I’m in a position to mould this brand into exactly what I want it to embody. I want to be sure the product is sending the right message because what any company offers should be about more than people just buying the product.”
While Roy is grateful for the position Eclair Lips currently finds itself in, she is also insistent on giving something back to the community that has helped propel the company from the basement to the big-time. She recently signed on as a business mentor in NBCC’s OASIS program, a community mentorship that helps nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs.
“I was a mentee in the OASIS program twice and feel it’s the right time to step up to become a mentor to others,” Roy states. “If I can share some wisdom or advice with someone that’s in the position I was a couple of years ago, it’s all worth it. On one hand, it’s strange to think people could be looking up to me, but I also believe people like myself bring a lot more value to these types of roles than we might give ourselves credit for.”
Looking back on her journey of the last four years, Roy shares that while she had hoped her business would one day find its wings, being on the precipice of that reality is invigorating but also hasn’t come without a significant amount of work. And while the future of Eclair Lips is looking arguably brighter than ever before, she encourages other entrepreneurs to never give up on their dreams.
“If you’re thinking of starting a business, the best advice I can offer is to just go for it,” she says. “There’s no such thing as the perfect time, you just have to believe in yourself and do it. And even if your initial plan or product doesn’t strike gold right off the bat, it doesn’t mean entrepreneurship isn’t for you. Sometimes all it takes is the slightest of changes. Staying motivated can be tough at times, but there are a lot of lessons to be learned, both in the successes and failures you’ll encounter.”
A complete Eclair Lips product lineup, as well as New Brunswick retail locations, can be found online at www.eclairlips.com.
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