When Madame Thai founder Nichapha De Maeyer moved to Canada in 2016, becoming known as a skin-care entrepreneur was, arguably, the last thing on her mind.
Then again, in her defense, De Maeyer perhaps hadn’t anticipated just how nasty Canadian winters could be upon her skin. In her native Thailand, temperatures didn’t generally go much below 15 degrees Celsius.
“It was during my first winter in Canada that I struggled to find natural products suitable for my skin,” De Maeyer says. “I searched in local stores and even some online merchants and couldn’t really find what I was looking for.”
Rather than resigning herself to merely accept her skin’s fate over future winters, De Maeyer saw an opportunity to bring a new, natural-based product to market.
Madame Thai was born shortly thereafter. She began first selling her products at the Shediac Farmer’s Market in the fall of 2017 and it didn’t take long for word-of-mouth to spread about the quality of product De Maeyer was producing.
She subsequently expanded her product line, which now includes seven varieties of soap bars, as well as body scrubs, shampoo bars, balms, lipsticks and more.
Finding a willing and supportive market for her New Brunswick-made products is merely one of the many exciting things to have happened to De Maeyer since her arrival nearly three years ago.
“Coming from a city like Bangkok [population 9.4 million, 2017] to the Moncton area was a big adjustment, but in all the best ways. My husband and I wanted a better life for our children, and we saw being able to provide them a better future in New Brunswick. It’s the pace of life here that is what attracted us to Canada, and New Brunswick in the first place. But also, we have everything we could possibly need. We didn’t feel we had to live in a big city so that we weren’t missing out on anything,” De Maeyer says.
Of course, De Maeyer’s path hasn’t entirely been without its challenges. Acclimatising to a new country, culture and language would be stressful enough for anyone, but when you tie in the launch of a business, she insists she knew she had her work cut out for her.
“One of the biggest challenges I faced was not being local. It takes time to build relationships with friends and business people, but it’s been such a gratifying journey. The community has been so supportive of ensuring I have access to the resources that could help me be successful. I’m very grateful for so many things.”