It all began with a book. CEO Barb Stegemann launched her book ‘The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen’ on International Women’s Day in 2008. In a similar vein, The 7 Virtues fragrance line aims to harness North American women’s buying power in order to create change with regard to the unequal instances of poverty and conflict that exist globally.
Currently, the organic and fair trade essential oils are sourced from Afghanistan through a company called Gulestan, as well as from Haiti through the Peace Divident Trust, but the social business will soon look to sourcing oils from other countries in the Middle East and Africa. Afghanistan’s plight is particularly interesting due to the illegal poppy trade, but because The 7 Virtues buys legal organic oils, this allows for alternative crop opportunities for local communities.
What about the products? The company offers The 7 Virtues Afghanistan Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum, which mixes orange blossom oil, freesia and jasmine, and The 7 Virtues Noble Rose of Afghanistan, a spicier alternative with rose oil, carnation, peppercorn and clove. The fragrances are currently available at 91 The Bay stores in Canada as well as online.
As stated on their website, the goal of The 7 Virtues is "to encourage others to do trade with business people in Afghanistan and other nations experiencing strife as a part of the solution to building peace." This is another example of a business doing away with a strictly "charity" model, and instead, creating a mutually beneficial relationship that allows for dignity and social, economic and self-empowerment -- and affirming the now-popular expression "trade, not aid."
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