When Canadians think of Afghanistan, images come to mind of soldiers, dusty mountains and burkas. When Barb Stegemann thinks of Afghanistan, she smells flowers and a new perfume she’s about to unleash on Canada.
“It’s really precious. My perfumer says it’s one of the greatest scents ever,” the Halifax businesswoma and author says of Afghanistan Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum.
“It’s very fresh. It’s got lighter notes of freesia and other citrus notes, but mainly (it’s) the orange blossom oil with a hint jasmine. The perfume is incredible: it makes me happy,” she laughs. “The minute you smell it, you associated it with light, fresh, happy; we’re changing the perception of a community. There are some beautiful things in Afghanistan.”
Born in rural Nova Scotia, Stegemann moved to B.C. and ran a consulting firm before returning to Halifax. Two years ago she published The Seven Virtues of a Philosopher Queen: A Woman’s Guide to Living and Leading in an Illogical World and became a full-time author and motivational speaker.
Now she’s set her sights on the beauty world with Afghanistan Orange Blossom. Stegemann buys orange-blossom oil directly from women in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. That allows them to earn a decent living without being beholden to the Taliban and it allows Stegemann to produce what one fashion magazine called an “absolutely glorious” scent.
Stegemann has a professional perfumer turn the oil into perfume and has long-term ideas about branching out into candles and bath oils.
Like her book, the perfume’s packaging comes infused with quotes from poets and leaders. During the steep learning curve of bottling her own perfume, Stegemann was delighted to discover that “Gandhi” means “seller of perfume.” Mohandas Gandhi is one of her personal heroes.
For Stegemann, the total package is about 3-D beauty. “It’s the new retail therapy: You come, you want to look more beautiful, you leave more beautiful on the inside,” she explains.
Afghanistan Orange Blossom is being launched on International Women’s Day (March 8) and will be available at http://www.the7virtues.com and select retail outlets across Canada.