05 From a Farmer’s Market Soap Company to a Skin Care Brand Focused on Women’s Wellness with Anointment’s April Mackinnon

May 11, 2021 | Environmental Health, Episodes, Impact Business, Sustainability

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In today’s episode, we chat with April McKinnon from anointment. We learn how having a newborn with a critical illness led April from a career in civil engineering to buying a farmer’s market soap company. We learn how she’s inspired by the unique landscape of her maritime homestead, how she leveraged the soap business into a skincare brand, and why when looking back at the last 12 years, April, thanks at buying a business over building a business may have cost her more in the long run.

If you want to learn more about April and her all-natural handcrafted skincare for pregnancy postpartum and menopause. Visit anointment.ca. And if you’re looking for a gift for a newly pregnant mom in your life, I particularly love belly butter. You can follow along with April on her mission to support physical wellness in life transitions on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter. April’s podcast The Ripple Effect can be found anywhere you get your podcasts.

About the Host


I'm Jennifer Myers Chua. The Host and Producer of the Cost Of Goods Sold podcast. I'm an entrepreneur, a creative, a cookbook fanatic, mother.  I have always been interested in hearing people's stories and I've been determined to change the world for as long as I can remember.

You'll find me at home in Toronto deconstructing recipes, listening to podcasts, enjoying time with friends or wandering alone through a big city.  I'm excited to have you here. Let's do better, together.


Episode Transcript


Jennifer Chua: Hello, everyone and welcome. You’re listening to Cost of Goods Sold with Jennifer Myers Chua episode 05

In today’s episode, we chat with April McKinnon from anointment. We learn how having a newborn with a critical illness led April from a career in civil engineering to buying a farmer’s market soap company. We learn how she’s inspired by the unique landscape of her maritime homestead, how she leveraged the soap business into a skincare brand, and why when looking back at the last 12 years, April, thanks at buying a business over building a business may have cost her more in the long run.

This is cost of goods sold a podcast about why the products that make a difference are made. I’m your host Jennifer Myers Chua. And I believe you can use your business or purchasing choices to cause a change you’d like to see in the world. Join me for conversations with intentional entrepreneurs, thoughtful designers and responsible creators and curators building for profit companies that create positive social and environmental change.

This episode is brought to you by hip mommies carefully curated wholesale merchandise for modern retail if you want to stock your shelves with brands that are socially responsible and sustainable, or if you want to be a part of the collection that is delighting Canadian retail visit, hipmommies.ca

If you’ve browsed through a baby boutique or natural health store in Canada, chances are you’ve come across Anointment. It was founded in 2002. April has been handcrafting all natural skincare sometimes with a team. And sometimes without, since she took over seven years later. And in the nearly 12 years, since April has experienced some ups, some downs and plenty of moments when she questioned whether she could go on.

I used Anointment products religiously when I was pregnant and postpartum and they live up to their claims. And so business has been good, the last couple of years. Anointment is on the shelf in all of the larger natural food stores. In Indigo and in Whole Foods.  April’s always ready to take stock and she’s focused on what has been working and then niched down. And a year and a half ago, April put the plans and processes in place to make a significant leap with a larger manufacturing space and a larger team.  But then COVID. And April had to do what many small businesses have had to do and ride out those waves.

She’s learned how to appreciate the quieter times at home with her family. Overlooking the beautiful marshland she lives on. And celebrate that she’s had the chance to be involved in every aspect of the business, every order, again.

Anointment is a natural skincare brand. They manufacture and distribute products related to pregnancy postpartum and menopause. There are some other products for new babies, some skincare goods for women. But the guiding principle is supporting through these times of change. And April is passionate about supporting women when sourcing her materials or partnering with brands. And natural skincare is essentially what led April into business in the first place, though. It was not the focus of her original venture.  So in 2004, April was pregnant with her first baby and the environmental working group, the EWG, launched their product database, which was revolutionary at the time.

April MacKinnon: I cross-referenced everything on their website with everything in my house and did a full sweep of my bathroom cupboard with a garbage bag and just everything went into it because I was pregnant and I was really concerned that maybe I was doing harm to my unborn baby, and I didn’t even know it, just through sheer ignorance. And so that was my first introduction to caring about ingredients at all.

Jennifer Chua: April went on to have her baby. And while she had spent so much energy focusing on her child’s health while she was pregnant, nothing could have prepared April for what happened after her birth.

April MacKinnon: There was also a whole story that would be far too long to tell here about her critical illness at birth, which led to us being in isolation in the NICU for three weeks. And because we were a a contagion risk, if you can imagine all of the things we are doing with PPE for COVID, it was like that. And everything that I wore in the room with her had to be double bagged and then sent for incineration because nobody knew what was in it. So, as far as biohazards. So we just, we created an insane amount of waste for those three weeks. And I left there sort of a culmination of all of these small markers in my life, determined to live a just a more natural homestead kind of life, but we were living in urban Halifax.

And so I did the best I could with our small plot of backyard that we had at that time.  And also that led into opening a natural parenting shop, which then subsequently led to me purchasing Anointment, which was a soap company at the Halifax farmer’s markets. So all of those things led me back to natural skincare essentially. So life before Anointment was really life before Parenthood for me.

Jennifer Chua: And at this time, April was in civil engineering, working with water and wastewater treatment. She helped to provide safe drinking water to communities in rural Cape Breton, rural Newfoundland.  And there within public health, April, learn more about the environmental sustainability. And she enjoyed landfill work, finding it interesting to know where your garbage goes, what happens to it and how that is all economically driven.  And all of this has led to how April thinks about the materials she uses now. The impact on the land, the soil, the earth. And April loved her work, doing water treatment, sewage treatment in the field and getting to know all of the people in the community and working with them. But then the funding for those kinds of jobs started to dry up.

April MacKinnon: There was a deadline in Atlantic Canada at that time to bring all of the small communities, to a new standard of drinking water quality. So there were all of these jobs happening. It was a very busy time. The deadline came deadline passed. Everyone had been brought up to standard. And now all of a sudden there’s no more of this type of work. And so my job in engineering then became very desk-based and I was, I was preparing engineering drawings. I was writing proposals and writing Specs for construction projects. And I really was not inspired by that kind of work. So I went from being really, really excited about my career to just feeling like, okay, another day sitting in front of my computer screen for eight hours.

And then when my daughter was born and she was critically ill it just, it changed everything. When you are looking at an infant who in one moment has changed your life. And then, if, if she didn’t make it, then I was going to have to walk out of that hospital without a baby. And then what was I going to do? And it just brought up like every existential crisis that you could imagine of what. What am I, who am I, what is my purpose? And everything that I was at that point sort of melted away. And I literally became an entirely new human being and I wanted nothing more than to just make the world better for her.

And I sort of made a promise that if she made it, then. Like things would be different. And so I had decided before I even left the hospital where I had mentioned all about, double bagging and incinerating, all of this waste that I was going to use cloth diapers.  I learned about attachment parenting. It just, it changed everything about who I was and the kind of parent I was about to become.  It just really changed the course of my life, that one moment where, a nurse noticed that my baby was not looking okay and that led to a three week, essentially a nightmare of a of hospital stay.

Going back to anything that I did before that time, just, it just didn’t seem like it seemed like I didn’t fit. I didn’t fit anymore. I was so profoundly changed. I did actually go back to my engineering career three days a week for time that didn’t work out so well. And I had started my first business kind of online in in the meantime. So I was building that up thinking that I could just pack and ship orders. Have this little online retail store and stay at home with my children and, it was going to be that simple. And of course it was not that simple.

Jennifer Chua: Do you remember any other moments in your life where. It kind of led you on this path of being interested in sustainability.

April MacKinnon: I think I’ve been interested in sustainability my whole life. My grandparents were beef farmers, cattle farmers, and had a very post-war post-depression kind of garden my entire life. I distinctly remember my grandfather dusting the potatoes with DDT in the 1980s and thinking, this seems like a really bad idea. My parents were gardeners. My parents also were cattle farmers that we just always grew up making sure we had enough. Just to feed ourselves. And then if there was something left to sell to, to have actual spending money at the end, and that was great, but the intention was always just to have enough for yourself.

Jennifer Chua: Why did you choose to make your impact here?  I want to do better. I’ve gone through this period of time that was really challenging. And I experienced a lot of waste, but why skincare? Why were you drawn there?

April MacKinnon: Really good question. I think it’s been a really roundabout journey. Perhaps actually secondary to the sustainability message,   we use minimal packaging, cardboard, recyclable, packaging, glass jars, the ingredients are all food grade ingredients. And so. We try as much as possible to maintain, the certified organic to keep soils healthy. Cruelty-free to ensure that we’re not impacting, animals and animal testing on a larger basis, vegan wherever possible. We do use beeswax, which is not considered vegan, but bees are not killed to harvest beeswax. So that’s I know that’s a gray area for a lot of people, but we actually have an apiary in our backyard. And I see every single time we opened the hives, how, how bees are managed and I feel okay with that decision. My desire to impact is really built around ensuring that women are supported in their time through pregnancy, postpartum, with their new babies, having the ability to choose products that they don’t have to worry about and that allowed them to feel better in their physical recoveries so that they can open up the space to do their own mental and emotional recovery. And so that’s really, that’s what drives me as a company, as the kind of skincare we produce. And then the environmental ethics are sort of cooked in there with it. Everything really in my life has, has led me here. I would say my upbringing, my family history, my education and Parenthood.

Jennifer Chua: How do you think you’re different from other skincare companies? Do you think that other skincare companies are so intentional?

April MacKinnon:  I think a lot are, the successful ones are . I think people have their own journeys with this. I know when I started out, because I took this company over, it was primarily a soap company. And so I became a soap maker, but I was never really passionate about soap itself. And so it’s taken me a long time to bring the two together to determine what kind of skincare I want to make that allows me to move my passion forward to support women  in those times in their lives. And I see lots of other companies who are doing similar things with the passions that they have And then there were others that are far more general but still do a fantastic job. Rocky Mountain Soap Company comes to mind. They make something for everyone. In multiple flavors and scents and they are extremely successful doing it and are doing a fantastic job. But my approach has been more to niche down and then niche down, even harder. But it’s taken me a decade and a half to sort of figure out what my niche was in the first place, because I, I didn’t put two and two together necessarily at first that skincare was the way to make my message heard, because I thought for a long time we would do the same thing. We would make something for everyone and we would do lots of it. And in that approach, I realized in speaking to everyone, I was speaking to no one.  And so it was really only in 2019, I got much clearer about what it is we are actually doing as a skincare company.

Jennifer Chua: On your website. It says that you’re inspired by the balance and change for our local landscape and our place in nature. Could you give me a little bit more of an idea of what you mean by that?

April MacKinnon: Oh, if you have ever been here, you will know that our landscape is quite, it’s quite unique and it’s quite inspirational. So I live on the Tantramar marsh, which is a landscape unlike anywhere else in the Maritimes. It is a saltmarsh that was created by Acadians in the late 16 hundreds with horses and specially made shovels to literally hold back the tides so that they could create farmland. And so we are at the mercy every single day , of these berms of these dykes that hold back the Bay of Fundy. It’s flat. It’s very much like a Prairie land. And it’s grassland. It’s historically the world’s largest hay producing. Location in, in North America and it inspires artists. There’s so much wildlife here. We have we have a big population of birds and therefore a large number of birders who live here. And it’s just. It’s rural. It’s quiet. There are no power lines out there. You can just be at one with nature.

I’m a runner. And so that’s sort of my favorite location to run. I’m up there all the time. Winter, spring, fall summer. I see from day to day, what’s coming into bloom. What’s blooming late this year. What’s out already. Oh my gosh. Look at the birds. That bird is back. This is early, you just kind of get into a rhythm of the seasons. And it’s just a really nice way to live, to notice when the Colts feet are blooming two weeks earlier than they did last year. My husband and I actually keep journals about these things. Cause we’re nerds like that.

Jennifer Chua: Now that we’re talking about your beautiful landscape and your beautiful property, can we talk a little bit more about the bees?

April MacKinnon: Yeah. So we have I think there’s five hives out there right now. We started out, I don’t know, maybe six years ago with one hive and Just to kind of try it out. And my husband has really latched onto this particular he took some beekeeping seminars and this has really become not only a hobby, but he has his own small business now as an apiary.

We produce honey. We do refine a small bit of beeswax and mainly make it into candles. It’s not, it, there’s not enough for me to use at work and we don’t have the equipment ourselves to be able to refine it to a place where I’m comfortable using it in our products. So we normally reserve for candles or sometimes people use it for beeswax wraps for their food, or even furniture, Polish and those kinds of things.

My brother also has blueberry land and so we move our hives to his blueberry land in the spring to help pollinate the blueberry blossom. So it’s, we’re all kind of interconnected in this family of small agricultural enterprises and and small business.

Jennifer Chua: When you started to look into creating products, did you come to any realizations that conventional baby care products may be less than ideal?

April MacKinnon: I think it’s really a different approach. It’s a different philosophical approach. There are lots of conventional baby products out there that that we’ve all used. We all have sworn by them at various points in our lives or our mothers or our grandmothers used them. I think that they all have their place and certainly there are specific ingredients in those that health Canada recognizes as being appropriate for treating diaper rash and that kind of thing. Our approach has been more rooted in traditional herbal knowledge. So it’s really just a different philosophic approach to to a product for the same kind of purpose.

Jennifer Chua: Those ingredients that maybe really mass produced skincare lines are using, do you think any of those have significant environmental impact?

April MacKinnon: I think any ingredient can have significant environmental impact. We, we have the potential to overproduce just about anything on earth or overuse.  There is a lot of emphasis placed on soil health and soil regeneration within the parameters of certified organic agriculture, which is one of the reasons that I look to that particular certification for our ingredients. Essential oils are a great example. It’s kind of like making maple syrup where you have to extract out of huge amounts of material to get a small amount of product. And so right there, if, if you’re not careful and there are essential oils that are considered environmentally irresponsible and  they are getting harder to procure. So they’re very expensive, but they’re also come with caution that, these are being produced in environmentally sensitive areas, you might want to, be careful about using these kinds of products in some of your formulations for environmental reasons. I think everyone has their own set of ethics around that because everything is a shade of gray. Everything is a shade of gray when it comes to trying to figure out sustainability. And information changes over time.

Jennifer Chua: Thinking of the small business owner who  wants to make a bum butter, for example, or a home homesteader wants to make their own. Why may someone not want to just go on to Amazon and buy a block of Shea butter or something like that? For example, like what kind of checks and balances should people be looking for when they’re looking for materials?

April MacKinnon: Well, I’m a huge proponent of relationship-based business. Shea butter is a great example. I work with a with a supplier that purchases directly from a women’s co-op in Ghana. And so you can see from their videos and from their newsletters what’s happening in the village where the Shea butter is produced. The fact that the women there have been able to send their children to school because this is the income that they are making from selling the Shea butter. And so. I really like that for the social responsibility aspect. For someone starting out. You really have to define your, define your ethics, define your values within your business and don’t deviate. So spending time thinking about those things is really important. I think, there are some companies who for whom success is measured by bottom line and to other companies for whom success is measured in their work-life balance and other people for whom success is measured by something else completely. So knowing that is often enough to drive how you decide to purchase.

Jennifer Chua: Could you tell me about the moment where you realized that this could work? Like people were interested in this product you were creating or this brand you were building.

April MacKinnon: Yeah, it wasn’t that long ago. I mean, I think there have been many points where I’ve ridden the roller coaster of, okay, this could work and then, something catastrophic happens and then you are left with self doubt. I think the first year that I was able to draw even a meager salary from the company, which was about the seventh year in to owning the company and still have enough money to operate. There have been a lot of decisions that I’ve made just in the last 12 or 18 months that were, that were scary just in discontinuing some products. We’ve let go of our men’s line, for example, which in 2015 was the only reason we were profitable. And so letting go of products that had previously been quite successful, but no longer fit the direction that I wanted to go in, was really scary. And then seeing that, Oh my gosh, sales actually went up when I got rid of those products was a big eye opener that, okay, this, this could actually work when they say to niche. And then when you niche niche down again, they really mean it. So yeah, I would say when I thought, what I thought this could really work was literally 2019.

Jennifer Chua: Has there been any other costs associated with building this business to your family life or your mental health? Like how tough has this been?

April MacKinnon: Yeah, I’ve burned out twice. I’ve had significant challenges with my mental health and trying to rebuild after a big burnout. I went hard on, craft shows, trade shows. I went from New York directly to Toronto. To the craft show circuit for Christmas and then back to Toronto and then back to Toronto again. And after that last Toronto show, I came home just feeling like I was hit by a truck. I had no motivation. I had no desire, no drive, no direction. My kids were still very little. My youngest would have been three. I had no childcare except for my son had a half day preschool, my older two were in school, they have early dismissals, so they’re home by two o’clock and preschool was only half days. I was the primary parent. My husband works in the next city. So he’s, 40 minutes away at any given time. I can’t just call him to say, can you, can you come and just cover me for an hour? Looking back now I can say that I was doing a lot of things by half measures. I was parenting by half measures. I was trying to run this business by half measures and just trying to do work in 30 minute increments or parent in 30 minute increments or do laundry in 30 minute increments.

So I just was mentally overtaxed most of the time, which is a really big reason why that aha moment only came just so recently. I finally had some space to really think about really focus on one thing at a time and think about what it is. I actually wanted out of this business instead of just trying to run everything possibly poorly.

Jennifer Chua: These realizations led to this increased success after a decade in the game, or so. Have you encountered any other really big challenges in your journey here?

April MacKinnon: Always challenges. There’s, there’s never enough money. There’s never enough time. It’s hard to know. It’s hard to know what the right decisions are. I think I spent a lot of time working in a vacuum without a lot. Like I didn’t have a real business community around me. I knew some other business owners and we would talk occasionally, but, I didn’t have a mentor or a coach or anyone to really support me in learning new skills.  I think I spent a lot of time trying to learn everything, to figure out what it was I needed to know. Knowing, trying to figure out what you need to know is half the battle. And because if your measure of success is something other than straight profit margin or straight dollars in the bank or even if that is your KPI, you need to know how to measure that. I didn’t come into this with a business background. I have a good sense of problem solving skills because of my education, but I’m trying to run a business and try to run a manufacturing business is very different than running a retail business. So it took a lot of years to figure out. What are the parameters I need to be measuring there compared to, what I was looking at in a retail store, which is what my first business experience was.

Jennifer Chua: Can you tell me about a time where you feel like the odds may have been stacked against you?

April MacKinnon: The winter of 2015 after, after that period of burnout the, the winter of 2015 was probably the toughest winter on record recently it snowed all the time. School was canceled seemingly all the time. It felt like we couldn’t leave the house. So I wasn’t getting any work done because the kids were not in school. Everything just felt like it was piling up. Life was just piling up on top of me. And I was not sure that I was going to get through it honestly, or how I was going to get through it without completely cracking under the pressure. And I did crack under the pressure.

There was a point not long after I purchased the business that I had sort of rebranded it loosely. And then went to my very first trade show and realized that I actually could not sell the product. It was psychologically impossible for me to actually stand with confidence and sell the product because I couldn’t stand how it looked. I thought the packaging was terrible. I thought the branding was mediocre and I definitely was not competing with the other companies that were within that trade show. And and so I left with my confidence broken. My youngest son, I believe was about six months old. And so we went as a family, all five of us, and my husband would bring the baby to me to breastfeed while I was in the trade show booth.

And he would try his best to entertain them all day long while I was in that trade show booth, I still don’t know how we ever managed to get through it. And when I think back, I had this constriction in my chest of just. Why did I feel I needed to push so hard if I had just been smarter, I should have been working smarter and not harder, but there’s no way I could’ve learned that lesson any other way. And so there was that point where I thought, okay, I’ve got to rebrand everything and completely fixed this company from the bottom up. Or I’ve got, I’ve got to shut it down today. And I had already spent tens of thousands of dollars purchasing the company. And rebuilding a website and having new labels designed and printed and it was going to be another 25 or $30,000 investment to rebrand and relaunch and rebuild a website. Like I could have started this company from scratch for far less than what it took to get it to where it is today. But. Those are the lessons you learn. So there was that point quite early on where I thought, okay, maybe, maybe this just isn’t possible.

2019 I would say was another time. We were still operating from a second kitchen in my home and  I had signed a lease for a new location. That lease was to begin on March 1st, 2020. And from January 1st onward, I was getting up at four in the morning, every single day to go to my computer because I wanted to have on the day that we opened in our new facility, all of our, our good manufacturing policies in place, which have been in development for years, but I, I have, they’re like 99% done. I just wanted to complete them and have them in a binder. And like, this was going to be our fresh start. We’re going to get Health Canada licensing. We are going to become, federally licensed all of these things that I was trying to put into place.

And I had just started meeting with contractors at the end of February as our lease was about to start and we just ran into complication. After complication, after complication, we were going to have to Jack hammer out the floor to put in proper drains. And we were going to have to completely rebuild the entrance door because the metal had had rotted to a place where it was just sort of falling apart. And it was going to be a $5,000 job just to get the new door in 16 weeks of replacement. And everything was just not working, it was just not working. And I remember saying to my husband, I don’t know if, what I’m trying to accomplish is possible right now. And then by March 13th and everything had just ground to a halt. I had time to just think for the first time in, nearly two decades. And eventually we agreed between the property manager and myself that because of COVID and everything that had happened, that this was not a good fit anymore.

I walked away from the lease and I had leaned into, okay, we’re just going to be home-based. This is just what we are right now until something else comes along. And that’s what I did until November of 2020, when the perfect space came along and I signed a lease on a Tuesday and started moving in on a Thursday. So it just, it just came that quickly. Like it turned that quickly. And I think the lesson learned there is I was just trying to force something that wasn’t, was trying to put a square peg in a round hole. It just wasn’t meant to be. And if I had taken the time to step back and say, okay, if I have to force it this hard, maybe there’s a reason because when it came together, it came together and literally in 24 hours.

Jennifer Chua: We talked a little bit before, about 2015, when you were isolated in your home. And now you’re back isolated in your home because of COVID. And this challenge with your manufacturing space. Is there any other way that COVID has affected your business either positively or negatively?

April MacKinnon: After we went into lockdown, business completely stopped. Everything went quiet. Any orders that I had pending for retailers just sat. Nothing was happening on our website. My normal way to cope with stress is to run. That’s the only way I can make my mind stop. So I, I literally would do homeschooling with my kids in the morning, and then I would go for a run. For the first couple of weeks after we went into lockdown, I was just doing, I was still just doing busy work, like organizing my Dropbox folders and the things that probably needed to be done, but did I really need to be doing them? I felt like I needed to do something business-related. Otherwise, the business would just stop breathing. And I actually did consider for a while, this might be the end and I was starting to think about, well, what do I do if I’m not the owner of a skincare company, what do I do if this isn’t my job, what do I go back to school? Do I go back to engineering after 15 years? What do I do? And so I had laid off my staff, it was just me. By mother’s day, things were starting to pick up again. And so I was, I was able to ride on the inventory we had made for probably three months just because I was packing, little orders, one thing at a time, going out to people. And then it just every month built on top of the last month. And so it got busier and it got busier and it got busier. This year. August was so busy. It was our best month of the whole year until the Christmas season hit.

But I still, I had time to, we went to the beach as a family. We just, we just kind of enjoyed time for the first time in a very long time, even though we weren’t able to go far and we don’t normally go far because we have livestock and we have, we have a farm, so, going anywhere overnight is a big ordeal. We have to have someone come and farms sit so we don’t we don’t often go anywhere that isn’t a day trip, but we were able to take some really nice day trips to the beach or to Fundy national park for a hike or to take a picnic lunch somewhere and look over the Bay of Fundy. But the benefit business-wise came from me touching every single product, because I, I had to make everything I had to ship everything. It was really, really clear that when people can’t go to stores, there are five things they want from us. And I was packing the same five or six things over and over and over and over and over. And so that’s when it got really clear. What anointment actually is as a company. So I really have to credit the forced need to slow down with the clarity to move to the next level.

Jennifer Chua: COVID and purchasing habits has been fascinating. Completely fascinating.

April MacKinnon: I have seen definitely an intentionality around supporting small business and supporting local business. I don’t know that I had actually correlated that the way you have, because. You would see that you have a broader range of product that you’re working with than I do. But I have talked to a number of small business owners. I’ve heard that candles are off the charts, people who make candles right now cannot keep up with demand because everyone’s at home and once their home to smell nice, I think people have really taken an interest in self care and if that correlates to natural product then that could be it. They’re willing to spend a little bit more on things that make them feel good and things that they feel good about. I know for us because my husband is not commuting into the city every day. We’re saving a lot of money on gas that we can, that we can then put toward other things that make us feel nice. So there’s been a shift in how our family budget works that way. I pick up flowers at the store every so often for the kitchen now, which is something I never would have done before, but I make a point to go to the flower shop and buy a bouquet of flowers just because I’m in my house. I might as well make it look nice. So there, there could be that just people buying things that make them feel good.

Jennifer Chua: If someone was trying to make an impact in the personal care category, and they’ve heard your story and they feel inspired now to do something about it. What do you think a common reason they might give up or walk away from this would be?

April MacKinnon: I think that there is huge personal cost at stake if you don’t clearly define your boundaries very early on. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to podcasts this year and listening to women founders in particular, and I think for a lot of us, we don’t learn to set boundaries. We don’t necessarily learn to set boundaries until we’re approaching 40. And that certainly was true for me that I didn’t know, I needed boundaries. And I didn’t know how to appropriately set them, whether that was with the line between work and family, or even valuing my time enough to say, okay, maybe I’m not bringing in a big salary because I did this for a lot of years. I wasn’t bringing in an income. And so I didn’t feel that I could hire someone to look after my children so that I could work. But if I had hired someone to look after my children, even for a few hours a week, maybe I would have gotten there faster. There are so many things that I can only say in hindsight might have been different, but I can’t tell you for sure that they were, but I do feel that the boundaries around time, my husband never once hesitated to say, no, I have to go to work. I cannot take our son to his after-school class, so it was then automatically delegated to me. And I didn’t feel that I could also say that back. Well, no, I have to work. These are my work hours because I don’t have a boss who is clocking me in and clocking me out and watching whether I’m coming and going. So on the one hand that is the benefit of being self-employed, but it can also be a pitfall when it comes to managing your time.

I think that I underestimated for a very long time, the the importance of mindset in business. So not only defining your boundaries and defining your values, But really working on your mindset to believe that you can to have the confidence in yourself as a leader, but also to understand that business is a long game. You have to think of it. In the same terms. If you are a parent in the same way you think of parenting that you put in the work at the beginning, you may not see the rewards or the outcomes for several decades. And success is measured in decades. It’s not measured in days and it’s not measured in years. It is a very long-term goal, and it is a moving goal. So you can’t apply the same mindset you would use if you were playing baseball or if you were, coaching soccer or basketball or whatever, and so understanding those things I think has been really beneficial to moving myself forward, particularly in the last year.

And also intentionally scheduling downtime into your, and this is very hard if you’re trying to build a business and you’ve got small children, it is very difficult to have it all and to do it all well. And people told me that for years and I would not believe them. I was, I was contrarian and said, like, I know I’m going to,  I’ll show you. I will show you, it can be done and it can be done. But like you said there is always a hidden cost and that cost will often come at your own physical or mental health or both because your body will tell you when it’s time to stop. And so I am working really hard to build in quiet time into my schedule, time that I’m not at work and time that I am not parenting so that I can just think, and creativity will come in those small moments. Would that have been possible? When I had three kids under six, probably not. Unless I was, again, really super clear about my boundaries and not only clear about my boundaries, but willing to enforce them, because that’s the other thing, people, you will be pushed. So being gentle with yourself, but also being clear about those things and that unfortunately sometimes comes with experience.

I’m looking to scale this company now and I’m looking to solve the problems that were not possible to solve while we were home-based. I’m looking forward to building a fantastic team and I want, I want anointment to be a household name in Canada. It’s been a long and interesting journey and I hope I haven’t highlighted negative things more than positive things, because I think while there have been a lot of challenges, I am a curious mind.  I mean, I am a student of the school of hard knocks for sure. Anything that I have learned through the gift of opportunity of making mistakes. So when it sounds negative, I only mean it to be that this was how I learned the lesson to get better and to look at my mistakes as not so much cautionary tale, just that I think everyone has these sort of dark holes they have to pass through in order to become the next version of themselves.

Jennifer Chua: if you want to learn more about April and her all natural handcrafted skincare for pregnancy postpartum and menopause. Visit anointment.ca. And if you’re looking for a gift for a newly pregnant mom in your life, I particularly love the belly butter. You can follow along with April on her mission to support physical wellness in life transitions  on Facebook at @anointmentnaturalskincare, Instagram, or Twitter @anointment. April’s podcast. The ripple effect can be found anywhere you get your podcasts.


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