Everything Om Touches Turns to Glass
Om’s story is not that unique - we started where many grassroots natural product companies get their start: in our home kitchen, creating lotions and potions. Where Om differs is that the products we craft are made using ingredients we wildharvest or grow ourselves on our little Omstead Farm. Whether it’s the Okanagan Violets that sprout up in clusters around our vegetable garden, or the thickets of Wild Roses dotted around our property, our land provides many of the ingredients that are essential to our products.
This is all part of our Sustainability Model. We can’t go on about Sustainability if we don’t have a plan or an end game. You can only be sustainable to a point and then that will no longer cease to be true.
For some companies, this “point” may be getting their product line into a certain number of stores or for others it's a specific dollar amount. For us it’s TIME.
About 10 years ago, when Om was still in its infancy, Graeme and I went to a Farm-to-Table dinner at Crannog Ales in Sorrento. It was a potluck and I specifically remember this sumptuous Beet Chocolate Cake with Beet Pink Icing…but I digress! At this dinner, Brian MacIsaac and Rebecca Kneen of Crannog (truly inspiring thinkers and leaders in Sustainability) talked about the concept of “Enough.” They could easily GO BIGGER, they could SELL MORE, they could GO NATIONAL or GLOBAL…or they could know that where they were at was ENOUGH. It’s this place where their needs/wants/goals are met. This feeling where they are living their best life, earning a great living, giving back to their community and still loving what they do. As Brian joked, why would he want to be the CEO of a company when he gets to be the guy who makes the beer?
Graeme and I talked about ENOUGH the whole way home. Would we ever get there? How would we know if we reached that point?
Recently, I went to another talk Brian and Rebecca gave on Sustainability, and again they talked about the concept of ENOUGH. I asked the question: “You know with inflation, etc. obviously ENOUGH changes, how do you stay sustainable with the cost of everything going up? Their response was simple - WE CHANGE TOO!
So their concept of enough today is different than it was 10 years ago and 10 years from now it will be different again.
We have come to realize that it is the same for us. What is enough now could look very different in a few years, or even months. Summer is approaching and we want to enjoy this time with our young family. Perhaps, when our kids are older, they’ll decide they’d like to take on more responsibility with the Omstead and Om Naturale. Whatever happens, we can adjust our version of ‘enough’ to reflect our needs and wants.
In 2008, I left a full-time social work job to fulfill a dream and start Om Naturale. In the last decade, we have continued to meet goals and fulfill dreams. We moved several times until finally settling on The Omstead in the fall of 2012. We welcomed our first son in 2013, and our second in 2017. We grow many of the plants we use to create our products. In addition to larger amounts of lavender & garlic, we grow vegetables for our family and we raise chickens (both pasture-raised laying hens and broilers).
Graeme has gradually pared down his “Off-Farm” employment until last Fall when he started full time for Om Naturale (well as full time as possible when there are two boys and a farm to look after).
In that short span, Om reached its point of ‘ENOUGH.’ Only, at first, we didn’t realize it.
Enough came with not just me, but Graeme and I, working nights making and labelling product until all hours. Enough came when we started having to cancel markets—which is an important connection with customers and friends—to meet our wholesale obligations. Don’t get me wrong; Om would not have reached its current status without the unbelievable support of our retailers. The stores who support Om, who also believe in our mantra “There Is Nothing Green About Plastic,” and who are willing to support a small, family-run, local company - These are our people.
We joke about building the “Om Empire,” but world domination has never been our goal. Heck, going national would take us too far from our core beliefs, as we feel there is nothing LOCAL about selling across the country, to places that have their own local companies in need of support.
The volume we have reached, and the level we are at, gives us the opportunity to GREEN UP even further. We are able to buy ingredients/packaging right from the manufacturer, or right from the source, in BULK and by the pallet instead of by the bucket. This greatly reduces our CARBON FOOTPRINT, cuts out middlemen and keeps our products affordable.
What we are starting to realize is that the more stores you are in, the bigger you get, the more unmanageable it is to make everything yourself. It reaches a point where you start to need more staff, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers…the list goes on. Not only does this make doing business more cumbersome, it distances the company from its customers.
We could say ‘Yes’ to Influencers or to Investors, we could GROW AND GROW AND GROW. But then what? I don’t want to work in Human Resources, I want to make lotions. Graeme doesn’t want to work in distribution, he wants to master the art of swirling our handmade soap!
In order to continue to do what we LOVE - which in our case - is to make products, to keep our hands in the dirt, to create new formulas, to research new sustainable packaging and to push the #plasticfree movement, we had to have a LIMIT. There had to be ENOUGH.
We have reached it. We now have a WHOLESALE WAITLIST.
It may open up once summer is over, or as our personal needs change, or our customers needs change. It’s an evolution and that’s totally okay with us. However, as of today, we have reached ENOUGH (there are 3 NEW Retailers joining the