Öko Créations has just delivered its first batch of washable menstrual panties to Jean Coutu.
Please note: not washable at Jean Coutu, but on sale at Jean Coutu.
They will appear on pharmacy shelves by the end of April – an important milestone for the small Boisbriand business.
The 4200 panties in three sizes, printed with a delicate pattern, were made in his workshop.
“We do everything from A to Z. We do the graphics, we make the patterns, we create the patterns that go on it,” informs Karine Létourneau, co-owner with her cousin Marie-Noël Beetz.
The company employs 18 people, all of them women – without that being a goal. It is inspired by the humanist philosophy of Patagonia.
“One of our goals is to ensure that the work is really positive for our employees, specifies the co-owner. We have yoga, we have plants everywhere, it’s sunny. It’s the anti-sweatshop. »
Öko Créations was founded in 2009 by sisters Marie-Noël and Mélanie Beetz, who shared an interest in couture and an environmental sensitivity.
“Mélanie had children and she was always missing products,” says Karine Létourneau.
A young family can never have enough layettes, nursing pads, baby wipes, bibs… “Melanie was looking for eco-friendly items in organic cotton and there weren’t many things on the market. My cousin Marie-Noël, who is very good at sewing, made several for her. It gave them the idea to offer these products to everyone. »
Quickly, reusable sanitary napkins, therefore washable, were added to their production.
“One of our first retailers was Terre à soi, in Montreal, and the owner made labels herself to sell our products,” says Karine Létourneau, to illustrate the fragile beginnings of the adventure.
Karine, who was then making a career in video games, gave her cousins an occasional helping hand.
“It started with my maternity leave. Marie-Noël also had young children. She would tell me, for example, “I need to take some pictures to put a little more love on my website.” We took a morning together, and we did that with our little friends who were playing around. »
Enthusiastic and emotionally engaged, she joined the company in 2018.
“The ideas were there, were good, but just a little something was missing to put the company and the products in a good light,” she says.
“I did the branding, did the communications, and then really put the spotlight on the business. »
At the end of the 2010s, Öko Créations launched a series of zero waste products: hemp bread bag, coffee and tea bag, bulk bag…
It was during the pandemic downturn that the idea came to add menstrual panties with a washable insert to the range of sanitary napkins.
“We saw that there was a business opportunity in pharmacies because there were no washable menstrual panties made in Quebec,” she explains. There really was a niche to exploit. »
“My cousin and I went to our drawing boards, and we were like, ‘What do we do and how do we do it?’ »
The two cousins tackled the problem during the summer of 2022.
“What’s interesting with menstrual panties is that the protection stays really well in place and the insertion is really made to go over the panties”, points out Karine Létourneau.
Theirs is made from organic cotton and hemp. “Hemp is very durable, very absorbent, and naturally antibacterial,” she argues.
“The sizes of bosses, it’s my cousin Marie-Noël and one of our employees who worked on it. I worked on the visual, that is to say on the pattern that was going to be on the panties. Flowers and bees, like Hindu mandalas.
“But also on the presentation visual, because when we presented the idea, the panties weren’t done yet,” she adds with a laugh.
“It’s the leap of faith. You have to believe in your business. Then I have visual talents, I can do a lot of things with Photoshop and 3D software. »
She concretized in 3D image the pattern on which her colleagues were working and she provided her visual material to their distributor.
“Our distributor was already convinced that we were going to make a good quality product,” she said. They sold the idea, and it didn’t take long. »
Yep: “They’re women, too.” »
The agreement with Jean Coutu was concluded in the fall of 2022. The first order was for 1,400 units for each of the three panty sizes, with the corresponding inserts, to be delivered in early 2023.
Now they had to be made.
The first samples were tested by the owners and their employees.
“How do you like it?” Ah, it’s too high here, too low there…”, describes Karine Létourneau.
Production was launched at the end of the year. Cutting, assembling, sewing, packaging: everything is done in the workshop of the small business. “Our seamstresses worked really hard,” she says.
Marie-Noël Beetz designed the pattern for the packaging, whose graphics were designed by Karine Létourneau. “We called our families and they all came to help us put it together. »
They were delivered in January.
“If sales are good, Jean Coutu could reorder at the end of April or around May. »
The door is open.
Montreal engineering firm Bouthillette Parizeau has set foot a little further in the Ontario flowerbeds by acquiring Cleland Jardine Engineering Ltd., an Ottawa-based structural engineering firm. And that has nothing to do with horticulture. BPA specializes in institutional, commercial, multi-residential and industrial buildings as well as in eco-responsible and LEED buildings. “By adding Cleland Jardine and its 65 employees to the BPA team, we will increase our presence in the Ottawa region, further anchor ourselves in Ontario and position ourselves to offer services in all provinces of the country”, said in a press release Patrick St-Onge, first vice-president at BPA. This is BPA’s first acquisition following an investment made in 2022 by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to support the company’s pan-Canadian strategic development plan and accelerate its growth. Organic growth, with the acquisition of Cleland Jardine. BPA has 675 employees.
An image is worth a thousand evils, when it comes to retouching it. To make it easier, Montreal-based photo editing and retouching company Image Salon has officially launched PHAiTO, its professional online editing software powered by artificial intelligence and designed in Montreal. “PHAiTO is a revolution in automated photo editing,” said Victoria Dimaano, Managing Director of Image Salon, in a statement. “This software is the result of the work of a team of more than 50 photo retouchers who retouch millions of professional photos for prestigious brands each year. PHAiTO is aimed in particular at photographers and companies that have a certain volume of images to process and very short deadlines to respect. Its database is backed by over 120,000 professional photos, selected from the tens of millions in the Image Salon database. Image Salon was founded in 2014 by two Montreal wedding photographers, Davina and Daniel Kudish, who had married their professional lives and passions in 2007. The company employs over 70 people in its Montreal offices.
You have to stand up to dare to make a first delivery of snowmobiles in the spring. This is the feat achieved by the Saguenay-based company Widescape, which announced at the end of March the delivery of its first stand-up snowmobiles to some sixty Canadian dealers. The Widescape WS250 is a hybrid of snowmobile and motorized scooter. Powered by a four-stroke engine, it is propelled by a narrow track and steered by a single ski. When the vehicle was presented in February 2022, the company expected to deliver 2,500 units between September 2022 and early 2023. Why was the delivery so late in the season? Or so early for next season? “Our vehicles, the first stand-up vehicles, were ready for delivery earlier this year,” the company responded by email. “However, Transport Canada asked us at this time to conform differently to a standard applicable to traditional snowmobiles. It was ambitious on our part to challenge a norm that had been in place for decades with our brand new vehicle segment. We rose to the challenge. Widescape responded to 800 pre-orders from the Canadian market. The company wants to expand its network of retailers in the United States this year. “We plan to open about 15 retailers in the United States for the first year and about 60 within two years,” she said.
The first seven Lion6 electric bush trucks left the workshop of the – aptly named – Lion Electric Company in Terrebonne to reach Parc Safari in Hemmingford. Two more will follow shortly. In 2024, Parc Safari’s vehicle fleet will total 18 Lion6 trucks.