Five minutes with Barb Stegemann, the CEO of 7 Virtues

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Five minutes with Barb Stegemann, the CEO of 7 Virtues

In 2006, Barb Stegemann received tragic news: A young man, hired by the Taliban, had put an axe in her best friend's head during a peaceful discussion about clean water and health care in an Afghan village.

Against all odds, Capt. Trevor Green survived. While visiting him in a Vancouver hospital, Stegemann promised to further his mission of peace. She wrote a book, The Seven Virtues of a Philosopher Queen, to call women to action. While promoting it, she read about an Afghan man who was growing orange blossoms instead of illegal opium poppies. She bought what little essential oil he had and launched her first fragrance.

Four years later, her company, The 7 Virtues, has financial backing from Dragons' Den's W. Brett Wilson and offers four fragrances. We talked to Stegemann about her next scent, Patchouli of Rwanda.

Andrea Karr: You're in the process of choosing one of six scents to launch as your new patchouli fragrance. Is making a selection difficult?

Barb Stegemann:
"We have to make something new, so I might have to say goodbye to my favourite of the six scents. We might even go back to the drawing board to elevate the new fragrance to excellence."

AK: Your fragrances support development in countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti and Rwanda. Do you still identify as a Canadian brand?

BS: "On our bottles is the Noble Rose of Afghanistan or the Vetiver of Haiti, and then in tiny print on the side: ‘Made in Canada.' We bring in the oils, make the perfume here in Halifax, package it here, design it here."

AK: Your fragrances are vegan and made from natural oils. What are the benefits?

BS: "Women tell me all the time, ‘I haven't been able to wear a fragrance for 18 years [due to allergies] and now I can wear yours.' Because it's natural, people are discovering fragrances again."

Experiment with different scents this summer. Check out these 6 must-try perfumes.
This story was originally titled "Five Minutes With Barb Stegemann, The 7 Virtues CEO" in the July 2014 issue.
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Five minutes with Barb Stegemann, the CEO of 7 Virtues