A Hand Sanitizer Inspired by Mi’gmaq Culture
N’tus Skincare & Cosmetics (N’tus), a Gesgapegiag business owned by entrepreneur Christianne Bernard, launched its first product this summer, which is a hand sanitizer. In the near future, N’tus will be coming out with a full skincare line, inspired by traditional Mi’gmaq medicines. The following is an overview of this brand-new company, which took advantage of an opportunity created by the COVID-19 pandemic to start its activities.
The hand sanitizer sold by N’tus Skincare is medi-spa quality with no harmful chemicals and its packaging is environmentally friendly. Future products will include a sweet grass infused hand sanitizer. The sanitizer is gentle on the hands and does not have a strong alcohol odour compared to other products of its kind. For her first order, Christianne ordered 500 bottles of her product, just to see how quickly the stock would run out. After about a week and a half, all the bottles had been sold. A second order of 1,000 bottles were ordered days after receiving her first order. This new enterprise is therefore off to a great start after only beginning its activities a few weeks ago!
An extensive entrepreneurial background
Although new in terms of having her own business, most of Christianne Bernard’s career has been linked to economic development and the business world. Indeed, in 2004, she started working as an economic development officer for Gesgapegiag. Her first big project that launced her career was an organic farm for her community, called Mi’gmaq Organics. A position she held for about four years until she decided to try something else. This was short lived however and after some time she returned to working in economic development, including writing business plans as a consultant. She then worked at Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Business Corporation (MMBC) until June 2019. Christianne always liked working for the benefit of her community, but her life led her in the direction of becoming an entrepreneur where she now has the freedom to operate her business on her own terms.
She started working on the concept of her business in early fall of 2019. The idea to start her business was inspired by her 8-year-old daughter, who loves beauty products. Christianne wanted to create products that are gentle and safe enough for her to use. Indeed, “N’tus” means “my daughter” in Mi’gmaq, which is an evocative name for this brand-new company! In addition to their passion for beauty products, the mother-daughter duo is also very interested in traditional Mi’gmaq medicines made from herbs and plants. In order to bring together her two passions, Christianne therefore decided from the outset to integrate materials into her products such as birch bark oil or seaweed, which are found in abundance on the traditional Mi’gmaq territory. To this end, she has sent sweet grass that was harvested from Gesgapegiag to a lab for research and development.
A business opportunity to seize
In February 2020, Christianne began writing her business plan based on her experiences as a consultant and CEDO. Despite the fact that the writing process was going well, she had to put her project on hold in March due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During those uncertain times, she told herself that this was really not a good time to start a business. Shortly after, the lab she had already started working with announced that it was working on the production of a “formula” for hand sanitizer. Christianne therefore took advantage of this opportunity, telling herself that the profits from the sale of the disinfectant could be reinvested in the development of new products. Thus, she resumed writing her business plan and conducting her market research. N’tus Skincare was finally registered in May, but its activities actually started in July.
She has invested her own money in developing her first product and purchasing her inventory. Moreover, for the time being, Christianne has been working with pre-existing products that were developed by the laboratory with which she collaborates, and to which it is possible to integrate plants and herbs that are traditionally used in Mi’gmaq culture. However, once her business gets bigger, Christianne plans to conduct research to be able to produce all the products she has in mind from A to Z, including a special request from her daughter who asked her to create a non-toxic products for nails! In the meantime, she wants to be able to launch her second product this fall, a facial cleanser made from seaweed that will be certified organic.
Are you interested in buying hand sanitizer? The product is currently sold in a few shops in Gesgapegiag, Listuguj and Eel River Bar. A transactional website is currently under construction and should be available soon. Also, a transactional website is currently under construction and should be available soon.
To purchase this product as of today, we invite you to visit the N’tus Skincare Facebook page.
To discover other projects and initiatives led by women, we invite you to visit our women entrepreneurship section.