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Uvvautik Soap Factory
Jaanimmarik School – Girls Project Class
We are a group of High School students (Project Girls) who started a small business in September 2014. We named it “UVVAUTIK Soap Factory”. We started this business so that we would discover our full potential through a “hands-on” experience. We have grown our business from simple soap making to include lip balm, face cream and other skin care products.
In March 2016, we began producing essential oils from plants native to Kuujjuaq. Our products are all natural. We are proud to be the very first Nunavimiut to create essential oils! We began making our own essential oils because buying them was too expensive. The lowest price we could find for a five-milliliter vial of Labrador tea essential oil was $32 and we couldn’t afford to use it. So instead, we decided to produce it!
We decided to try and make our essential oils from our community plants such as Labrador Tea and Black Spruce needles. To be able to experiment with this, our teacher presented our project to Brighter Future program. It has been accepted by the mayor and councilors of our community so we had a training a year ago (March 2016) and we bought the equipment too. Labrador tea is a hearty and very fragrant shrub that covers the tundra. Labrador tea has a piney and citrus scent and takes very long time to pick so we use this essential oil particularly for our perfumes and creams, but not for the soaps because that would take too much time! Instead, for our soaps we use the Black Spruce, it gives a really good aroma to the soaps and to the bath oil!
Our first distillation of Labrador tea was 27 pounds! We were able to produce 57 milliliters of essential oils from our first distillation, which made 11 5-milliliter vials, worth about $350!
We are so proud to produce a locally-harvested product, but also a product that has so many medical and nutritional benefits. Black spruce is known to release blockages and open the respiratory system, while Labrador tea has long been used as a tonic for liver and kidney disorders as well as a topical ointment for skin problems.
While we do not have our own distilling facility yet, our teacher has the equipment set up in the covered porch of her home, where she hosts us when we’re ready to distill. We are unable to use the equipment at school because it is heated with propane gas and our school’s insurance does not cover this. We get our propane at a discounted rate from Mr. Willie Gadbois, our local distributor!
The new equipment and scents have let the Girls Project expand, their horizons and they really appreciate the opportunity to experiment and make new products.
Nunavik Creations approached our group in 2014, and has sold our soaps ever since! Our products are also available for sale to the public by contacting Jaanimmarik school. To date, we have saved almost $5000 that we have placed in our bank account. We use this money to buy the ingredients we need, but we want to purchase a new distiller heated with electricity so we will be able to use it at school.
Demand is so high for our soaps and skincare products that we struggle with supply! We often set up a table and sell our soaps at Christmas fairs, but we sell out very quick! We have been asked about whether we would want to expand online and create our own website, but we believe that if we make a website it would become very difficult to meet the demand. So far, most of our clients are from Kuujjuaq (KRG, KSB, CLSC etc.)
We are very proud of our product and our business! As a customer once said, “Your products spread happiness on my skin!”
A note from our teacher, Suzanne Chenard:
“Our small business gives a team spirit to my class. Since 2014, I have seen the girls changing. They have become more involved in the project and in the academic subjects too. I can see that they are proud of themselves and of their accomplishment. They develop more confidence in themselves and in their future.”