One of my favourite things about being Canadian, is celebrating all of the amazing entrepreneurs and companies that were founded in our country. As Canada marks 150 years this weekend, Saje Natural Wellness is celebrating their 25th anniversary! To celebrate the milestone, founders Kate and Jean-Pierre LeBlanc created a special 25th anniversary limited edition Pocket Farmacy. Featuring five of their most-loved roll-on oil blends, the pocket or purse-sized kits includes everything you need for wellness on the go.
Each roll-on is 6ml (these actually last quite awhile for me even with daily use) and include five different blends: Peppermint Halo Headache Remedy, Immune Germ & Virus Fighting Remedy, Eater’s Digest Digestion Easing Remedy, Stress Release Tension Reducing Remedy and Pain Release Analgesic Remedy. I’ve been a long time user of all of these except for the Immune roll-on so I am excited to try that one out - especially as a mom to a young child who is constantly picking up germs at the playground and elsewhere.
I had the privilege of interviewing co-founder Kate LeBlanc about this momentous occasion for her company and family - and also how Saje has made such an impact over the past 25 years. Happy Birthday Saje!
Starting the company 25 years ago, did you ever expect that you’d be opening up your 50th Canadian location in 2017?
When my husband, Jean-Pierre and I founded Saje 25 years ago, our dream was global wellness. At that time, we weren’t sure how that vision was going to be achieved, but we just knew that we wanted to bring nature’s medicine to the world, starting in Canada.
Four years ago, our goal was 50 top tier and thoughtful Canadian locations by 2020. It’s incredible to think that goal has been achieved three years early! It’s surreal to be welcoming our 50th location with a second store in West Edmonton Mall; it’s a massive milestone for us that holds great significance.
What has been your number one favourite product to use since opening up shop?
It’s always so hard for me to pick just one – but luckily I get to share my faves regularly with our monthly feature ‘Kate’s Faves’!
Something I always have on hand is Immune (known as Fortify in the USA). With my busy travel schedule, it keeps my immune system strong and helps me fight the germs I come into contact with so frequently on flights and in hotel rooms. I travel with our roll-on remedy, which I apply to my neck and directly underneath my nose during travel, and at night – on the bottoms of my feet.
Immune also comes in different application methods to make it extra-easy to stay in good health. Whether you choose to roll on the remedy, apply a spritz of mist or enjoy a hot bath, the healing powers of tea tree, eucalyptus and peppermint will increase your wellness while you’re on the go.
What have you noticed over the past 25 years about how Canadians approach health and wellness?
We now have Saje locations coast to coast and something I’ve noticed has always remained consistent is the value of wellness that many Canadians have in common. There’s a desire to lead happy and healthy lifestyles – and an openmindedness and sense of shared community there. I think Canadians are at the forefront of pro-active health and are now seeking other healing modalities and methods that support a more natural approach. Our incredibly supportive Canadian communities have allowed us to bring natural wellness to more provinces across the country and I’ll always be grateful for that.
It’s a disconcerting thought to reflect on all of the synthetic products we put on ourselves daily and the poor air quality and pollution we breathe in. When using synthetic products, your body is constantly ridding itself of those toxins and over time these chemicals build up and deplete our immune system, allowing illness and stress to take hold.
Our VP Brand and my daughter Kiara often describes our stores as a place to go to when 3pm hits and you just don’t feel well. We’re that place you can go to when you don’t necessarily want to see your doctor, but you have a health concern – and it might be a result of this depleted immune system. You can come in, get help and feel better - and at the same time because you’re using plant-based solutions you’ll experience health benefits, rather than side effects.
The Pocket Farmacy Remedy Kit is your special 150 x 25 year anniversary product - why do you think this set is such an essential for Canadians to keep with them?
It felt like a natural fit to bring a limited edition of our Pocket Farmacy to celebrate 25 years of Saje history because it was how Saje all started!
Jean-Pierre origionally blended these formulations for his own use. A car accident had left him with soft tissue damage and on pharmaceutical medication. Soon he was adding even more medication to address the side effects from those that were meant to be helping him – and he thought, there’s got to be a better way. It was then that he blended the five original remedies found in the Pocket Farmacy. At the same time, I had a passion for incredible retail environments and experiences – so together, we combined our passions to create Saje.
All that said, it was a natural selection for our celebratory, limited edition product. Growing Saje has been an exhilarating and rewarding journey and we feel the Pocket Farmacy speaks so perfectly to that experience. And even more rewarding to celebrate alongside Canada’s 150th anniversary!
How has being Canadian helped you professionally?
I’m super proud to be from this incredible country. Growing up in small town Ontario, yet also having experiences in Canada’s biggest cities – and living where I am now, amongst West Coast beauty – have played a huge role in who I am as an individual and my values of community, connection, wellness and nature. This, combined with my desire to experience other cultures and ways of life, has been an incredible lens to gain inspiration from.
I’m also always inspired – wherever I go in Canada – by the people. Some of the most genuine, kind hearted people I’ve ever met have been in towns, Coast to Coast, when I’m in our retail stores connecting with folks. It’s my favorite part of my job.
How have your Canadian roots influenced your work?
I grew up working in my mom’s fabric store. She was so much more to our little town than just that; she was a pillar of our community. I remember her hosting teas with the ladies of the town, and she had a real passion for customer service. People gravitated towards her for a place to go for more than fabric – for connection and a sense of community.
I knew then and there that I was passionate about retail, and that one day I wanted to pursue my own entrepreneurial journey within it. It was this early experience that inspired one of Saje’s founding pillars – outrageous customer service. To this day, it remains a founding pillar and the foundation of everything we do at Saje.
Beyond this, I have always been incredibly inspired by nature, by the effects it can have on the body, mind and spirit. Whistler is one of my favorite places to go to get grounded, feel super connected to myself and general disconnect, unplug – and at the same time, reconnect.
That’s something I also really love about essential oils – they have the ability to instantly lift us out of a place of anxiety and help us land in a place of possibility. Picture yourself taking a deep breath in the middle of a serene, remote place in the woods and think about how body would feel in that moment. That’s the effect essential oils have.
Essential oils act as rapid transit to nature. Whatever state my body and mind are in, whatever I’m feeling in that moment, I know I can rely on the ability of essential oils to adapt to what my body needs. When you’re connected to nature, your body releases endorphins which elevate happiness.
Thank you to Saje and Kate for the Pocket Farmacy Kit!