NEW GLASGOW – One of Atlantic Canada’s most successful woman entrepreneurs will deliver a talk entitled ‘Business as a Calling: 7 Virtues for Living and Leading in an Illogical World’ at the New Glasgow Public Library.
Barbra Stegemann, CEO of The 7 Virtues Fragrance Company and native of Antigonish, will be returning to Pictou County where she hopes to have an audience larger than when she was here four years ago.
“I only go where I’m asked to speak but on that occasion, there were about six people out to hear me talk,” she said.
She took it in stride however, and says it was a special evening that helped to shape the second and third editions of her bestselling book, “The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen.”
Stegemann attained national fame as the first woman from Atlantic Canada to land a venture capital deal on the popular CBC show, Dragons’ Den with her perfumes made from oils distilled from legal crops of orange blossom and rose in Afghanistan.
Her goal and guiding philosophy that that women can flex their buying power to effect change and reverse issues of war and poverty, are helping to provide an alternative to the illegal poppy crop for farmers in the troubled country.
She’s kept both her business and personal eye on Nova Scotia, with her business headquarters and family based in Bedford.
“Nova Scotia is a geographic and exceptional business centre,” she said, noting one could be in the major city centres such as London, New York and Toronto in a few hours by plane.
When Stegemann made a cold-call to The Bay, when her perfume initiative was just getting started, she said her Nova Scotia roots were to thank for the positive response.
“I left what I thought was a pretty good message and got a call back from their perfume rep ten minutes later,” she recalled.
She was more interested in Stegemann’s ‘902’ area code that showed up on the phone.
“Atlantic Canadians are always willing to help each other out and it proved to me that emotional capital is just as important as financial capital.”
There’s this idea that resources are scarce in Atlantic Canada and we need to keep our success secrets close. Rather, when we realize we can share and help each other more, we can be even more successful as a community, province and region.”
She is confident that others in the region can find the same success she can.
“You’ve got to see the glass half empty and half full. Go and get whatever you don’t have and market what you do have.”
Stegemann got started in the perfume business in her Bedford garage with a maxed out Visa card and $2000 worth of orange blossom and rose oils.
In the years after that, she’s been able to send over $100,000 legal funds back into business in Afghanistan.
Her inspiration came from her best friend, retired Capt. Trevor Greene, who was brutally attacked with an axe by the Taliban in 2006. Her book was dedicated to his bravery and resolve.
He’s become her mentor and inspired her to support his mission of economic empowerment for others.
Her interest and drive caught the eye of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who appointed her an Honorary Colonel, with the role of advising the military.
She considers the men and women in uniform at CFB Greenwood and around the world her extended family.
“We can’t rely on the government and the military to solve all the problems,” Stegemann said. “When a farmer in Afghanistan is thriving and his business is succeeding, his children will have food and go to school and not be taken and corrupted by the Taliban.”
She recently found out the farmer who supplies her orange blossom oils was about to give up on his business before she intervened.
Even a small act, like buying a bottle of perfume called ‘The Noble Rose of Afghanistan’ can have a big impact.
Trecia Schell, Community Services Librarian Manager at the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library says Stegemann has broad based appeal to men, women, businesses, fashion and activism, to name a few.
And it looks like this time, there will be more than six people in attendance.
“Barb’s talk is going to be very well received, that I’m sure,” said Schell. “We’re predicting a full house.”
Barb Stegemann will speak at the New Glasgow Public Library on Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.. All are welcome, though seating is limited.