For the past 12 years, Cecelia Brooks of St. Mary’s First Nation has dedicated her time to specializing in body care and wellness products. Soul Flower Herbals is a Wabanaki family-owned business that prides itself on creating products using locally-harvested and plant-based ingredients.
Cecelia says, “It’s always nice to provide local alternatives to people for body care and wellness products. I believe it’s significant that we use materials from our local environment because we’re not just allowing the forest to get cut down, we’re actually utilizing it.”
Prior to officially starting Soul Flower Herbals, Cecelia had been making body care products for her family for several years. “I used to make products for my sons. I also started making my own moisturizers after realizing the ones I was using were causing my skin to break out. My son was the one who assured me that people would love my products.”
As the sole proprietor of her business, Cecelia says she couldn’t do it without the help of her family. “Soul Flower Herbals is a family-owned business. My oldest son helps me to harvest the plants used in our products, but I’m the primary harvester because he has a full-time job at Parks Canada. My youngest son is a photographer and takes all of the pictures for the website. My boyfriend takes the videos for my website and my daughter-in-law is the one who helps me on Saturdays at the market to sell the products.”
The story of Soul Flower Herbals is pretty remarkable. Cecelia Brooks had traveled the world and worked in the US for most of her life before she decided to move home to her community of St. Mary’s First Nation. With a BSc in Chemistry and 20-years of experience in her field, Cecelia was surprised when she received no response after applying for multiple positions here in Fredericton.
After talking with her family, she felt that the lack of responses may be due to racism as she had put her community address on her resume. This surprised Cecelia, as she had never expected to be faced with this sort of adversity. Cecelia says, “I decided that if someone doesn’t want to hire me because of racism then I don’t want to work for them anyway.” At this point, Cecelia says she was at a stand-still. It was the encouragement of her eldest son that pushed her to start her own business.
Some of the products offered by Soul Flower Herbals include: soaps, lip balms, a variety of moisturizers, a variety of essential oils, healing balms, mineral makeup, bug repellent, sunscreen, candles, dream catchers made out of red willow, sage bundles, sweetgrass from local harvesters, etc.
In addition to have a great product line now, you can expect exciting new things from Soul Flower Herbals in the future. Cecelia and her team are working on renovating their work space to include a certified kitchen. “There’s a lot of wild foods that people don’t know about, we want to teach people about it.” Additionally, Cecelia and her eldest son are partnering to create a business that provides forest walks to teach others about the bounty of our local forests. You can also expect some new products such as detergent made from liquefied hardwood ashes, which Cecelia and her family have used for years, “My family and I have used this product for over ten years, we just haven’t had the time to develop the packaging.”
When asked if she has any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Cecelia says slow and steady wins the race: “Start off small, don’t pressure yourself to be the biggest company. Serving the local economy is just as important. There’s a lot of self-doubt in our youth and it’s not their fault. I’m at that point in my life where I welcome the opportunity to be able to guide them to creating their own businesses by sharing my experience.”
Soul Flower Herbals can be found at the Boyce Farmers Market and in a number of local stores here in Fredericton as well as in a variety of locations throughout New Brunswick. For more information, visit their website at: https://www.soulflowerherbals.com/locations/