Business Profile: April MacKinnon, Founder, Anointment Natural Skin Care Inc.

Founded by April MacKinnon, Anointment Natural Skin Care Inc. started in 2002 at the Halifax Farmers Market, where the company’s primary product was handcrafted soap. The business relocated to Sackville in 2011. With MacKinnon’s background in the baby and children’s industry, Anointment made some product and ingredient refinements and refocused the brand to serve the wholesale market. The company currently have three employees, and its primary customers are independently owned baby and children’s boutiques, lifestyle shops and health food stores across Canada and the United States. You can visit Anointment on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Why did you choose to start your business in Sackville?

I grew up in Sackville, and after my three children were born, we were looking for a lifestyle change where our kids could access many of the activities and opportunities available in a larger centre but have more personal freedom. Sackville is  strategically located on westbound shipping routes which helps to keep shipping costs low, and many of the supplies we use can be accessed easily in Halifax or Moncton. Opportunities New Brunswick and the New Brunswick government have been extremely helpful in providing access to consultant advice, grants for trade show travel and assistance in growing our market outside of New Brunswick.

What surprised or surprises you about running a business in Sackville?

Sackville has a well-educated and skilled population that is eager to work. Our product labels clearly state we are located in Sackville, New Brunswick, and I hear a lot of feedback from former Mount Allison students from across Canada who pick up our product in stores and the location brings back fond memories. “Awww, Sackville,” is a comment I hear a lot; there are a lot of positive memories associated with this place.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

In building a business I wear a lot of hats and I parent three children. A typical day usually begins with processing orders that came in the day before, ordering supplies, checking our inventory levels and planning the production schedule for the week in co-operation with my amazing production assistants. Once production is underway orders are packed and shipped, and I reply to customer inquiries and emails. I check in regularly with our sales representatives in Quebec and in Western Canada to gather feedback, and dedicate one day a week to customer relationship management — calling customers to check on their stock levels and improve our relationship with them — and another day to financial updates. Future planning and financial management happens on top of all of this.

How do you see your business growing or changing over the next five years?

We are embarking on a pilot project with NRC/BioFoodTech in Prince Edward Island to scale up our recipes and improve our production processes. We are implementing more formal Good Manufacturing Practices and exploring organic certification for our New Mom & Baby line. We have been working on bringing Anointment to Holland in conjunction with a Mount Allison graduate now living in The Hague. We will need to move to a new facility and anticipate adding several production jobs and possibly also management positions.

What’s your favourite place to eat or explore in Sackville and why?

I love the Black Duck Coffee Shop and The Coy Wolf. I appreciate their farm-to-table philosophy and enjoy that I can get really great food that I could never prepare at home right here in town. It is a big-city experience that I don’t have to leave town for!

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about moving to Sackville?

Sackville has a culture of entrepreneurship and there are lots of opportunities for informal idea sharing over coffee. There are challenges to every path but success is possible with hard work and persistence whether your market is Sackville or you are selling a product or service elsewhere. The cost of living is lower than many places and the experience of being on the marsh or overlooking the Bay of Fundy at dawn is something that you can’t get in a big city.