An abiding love of nature and a desire to source natural solutions inspired Geneviève Losier to launch Woodsmoke & Fir Botanicals in 2015, before rebranding the company to Skogen Apothica in 2018. Based in Memramcook, NB, Losier spoke with Excellence NB about the founding of the company and the challenges in operating a business.
How did you get into this business?
I’ve always had an interest in wild plants, and since I was a child I’ve spent most of my free time exploring nature and feeling more comfortable being in the woods than anywhere else. Approximately 15 years ago I was challenged with multiple health issues and pharmaceuticals were making my situation worse, and so I turned to alternative medicines for help. I was desperate, but I knew that if I immersed myself in my herbal studies that there was a solution, somewhere. And with a complete change in attitude, in diet and in medicines, I was able to reverse and heal my health issues.
Being completely self-taught and having made herbal medicine as well as natural home alternatives since 2005 it was a natural progression for me to start my business. Also, my background as a business owner; creator of an upscale cloth diapering brand and eco-feminine wear since 2002 shaped and helped me in knowing how to produce products that fill a need with families.
I’ve always loved helping others and found there was a big need for not only completely natural alternatives, but the interest in wild food and medicines was also growing, and I knew I could share my knowledge with the world. My experience showed that many people want to make changes, but aren’t sure how to make that happen. This is my way of showing up in the world and helping others, as well as myself and my family.
What are the pros and cons of this business?
I absolutely adore that I have creative freedom in my business, and I get to spend so much time outdoors with the plants, and nature that surrounds me. I love crafting unique combinations of upscale oils and butters, while adding a wild element to my formulations. The feedback from customers and other likeminded businesses has been phenomenal, and we seem to be making a big impact as a company that promotes the zero-waste movement, while also utilizing local, wild and abundant plants. We’ve been humbled and ecstatic with the testimonials pouring in from our customers, and couldn’t be prouder to offer such products from our local terroir. Already we have businesses reaching out and wanting to carry our products in their stores, and we have big plans in the works on new product lines that change with the seasons.
Managing every single aspect of a small business can be challenging, no matter how much passion you have for it. Time management, planning, marketing, fabrication, distribution, web design and accounting all falls under the hands of the owner/director. It’s a dream of mine to grow this business enough so I can employ local passionate people to work alongside me.
Can you think of an example of how you support local?
Since 2002, my family has been extremely conscious about supporting local, and always choose the local option over anything ordered online or not within Canada. Be it produce bags made locally, or health food stores that are local, we always choose the better option: Supporting local whenever we can!! As the movement towards conscious living and plastic alternatives grow, we are right there alongside you, making a difference.
My goal as a business owner is to offer zero-waste alternatives, from the products to the packaging itself. We know that each conscious action has a ripple effect, and we serve our community and our planet by offering a product you can truly feel good about using.
We believe that our use of local, abundant plants serves the community, not only by creating awareness of the bounty that surrounds us, but also serving as a guide into healthier living. I’ve always said that our medicine cabinet grows 10 feet from our front door, and we hope to serve the community by also offering a variety of classes for everyone.
What is it about your work that inspires you?
Working with plants, getting to know their whims, their growing seasons, their medicinal values, feeling connected in the natural world, and knowing I am helping others choose a more sustainable lifestyle, one that focuses on local and abundant plants, not plants or spices that are imported from overseas, or are often overharvested. We are passionate about teaching the local and online population about sustainability, and about using what we have here in our local terroir.
Do you have any advice for others looking to start a business?
Do your research: Abide by the rules set out by the New Brunswick government and Health Canada.
Follow your passion: This way of making a living can be challenging, with many ups and downs, but you have to know that you will work through it and not quit, even if that’s the first thing you want to do when there’s a hiccup down the road! It takes years to establish a business, be sure to work diligently each and every single day.
Look for funding opportunities: There are wonderful groups out there wanting to help entrepreneurs make their dreams come true, like the CBDC groups, Women in Business and others.
As an entrepreneur, what would you say to others asking why you choose to live here and operate a business in NB?
I was ecstatic to move here 12 years ago and subsequently establish our family here in 2007. We absolutely love the community we live in, as well as the laid-back, relaxed atmosphere only the Maritimes can offer. We chose to establish our business in New Brunswick to connect with likeminded folks who want the same thing we do: a relaxed, comfortable living experience, pristine wilderness that is accessible year-round, and fabulous natural sites that offer a multitude of wild foods and medicines.
What do you think about this initiative to encourage NBers to buy products and services made in NB?
I am absolutely thrilled about Excellence NB encouraging people to buy locally-made products. It is important, not just for our own economy, but because we have so much to offer. I personally think we have some amazingly talented and creative entrepreneurs in this province that deserve to be recognized for their work!