If you haven’t heard of Saje Natural Wellness by now, where the heck have you been? Drop everything right now and just go. This 100% natural healing company has been busy taking Canada by storm. Just recently, they opened their newest store located in the heart of Ottawa at the infamous Rideau Centre. Well, I was there to celebrate yet another victory for one of my favourite stores and to chat with one of the co-founders, Jean-Pierre Leblanc.
With so many companies out there catering to the natural healing world, what sets you apart from the others?
“I would start with product integrity. Everything you find in the store is 100% natural. The idea is, whatever you’re presently buying at the drug store or the department store for your personal or wellness care, we want to supply you the 100% natural version thereof. So for example, we would love to sell you some shampoo but we haven’t figured out how to make it truly 100% natural, so you can’t find any shampoo in the store.”
As of 2015, you have 24 locations across Canada. What is the main driver for your success?
“Well you’ve got to remember, we’ve been at it for 23 years. So 20 years ago, nobody understood what we were up to. But, over time, people are getting that we’re here to serve our communities. We’re here to educate. We’re here move society from using pharmaceuticals to using a natural alternative. People are getting that we are who we are. They come in because they just walked passed the store and they can smell something super attractive because there’s no perfume in the store. So they smell something that pulls them in, they ask some questions and they find out that we hire people who really care. Nobody sells anything around here. They just want to raise people’s awareness of wellness. And then, some people take products home and we get to pay the rent!”
Why do you believe that sourcing and sustainability are so important for Saje Wellness?
“Well the thing is, I don’t believe that people will save our forests if they’re not taking care of themselves. It’s people who get that our forests are generating our medicine who want to save the forests. So we are educating people on how all of this medicine is coming from nature and that’s one of the reasons why we want to respect nature. It’s beautiful but it’s also very useful. It’s very therapeutic. And so we want to get people very connected to the therapeutic power of plants. You’ll notice around here that all of the plants are real. There are no artificial props, it’s all real.”
One fun fact about Saje Wellness
Both co-founders, Kate and Jean-Pierre have been passing the baton back and forth for years. In 2000, which was the year of the feminine, Jean-Pierre handed over the leadership to Kate. Years later, when it was time to grow aggressively and raise more money, she handed it back. Last June, Jean-Pierre handed it over again to become the Chief Wellness Officer. In this role, he spends his time building a culture of wellness, training and helping to bring awareness to both the outside and inside communities. Recently, their daughter Kiara joined the team as their Creative Director.
“So I care about what’s inside the bottle, Kate cares about how well the retail store works (and the bottle), and Kiara makes sure that all of it looks fun and attractive. She makes us hip!”
Photos: Saje Natural Wellness & Catherine Sugrue
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Catherine Sugrue, CNP