This week’s Ms New Brunswick is Meigy Beatty, the owner and maker at Bella et Moi, a natural skincare line. Originally from Indonesia, Meigy met her husband in Bali when they were both working there and eventually followed him home to Edmundston. I asked Meigy first about the packaging of her line, Bella et Moi, because I was struck with how professional and beautiful it is. It simply does not look like a handmade product. Meigy explained to me that she felt that the packaging had to be high end in order to gain the trust of her potential clients. She felt that, because she was new to the area, she had to put forth an extremely professional looking product so that people took her and her business seriously. This was a poignant moment for me in our conversation because I realized just how difficult it must be to be new to an area. Being a mother is often isolating on its own, but to add the extreme difficulty of having no personal networks to draw on from time to time seems almost unbearable to me. I admire and respect the life that Meigy has made for herself since moving to New Brunswick, and her courage and positive attitude. Not to mention the quality of her products – which I personally know to be amazing and of extremely high quality!
Tell me about your business.
Bella et Moi is a natural skincare brand that I started when I moved to Edmundston. I aim to blend simplicity and high performance in my line, and I use plant based oils, essential oils and natural extracts. There are no synthetic colors or scents, and no harsh chemicals. I manufacture everything myself at home in very small batches.
Bella et Moi is about treating oneself beautifully, but also extending that idea to how we treat the environment, our neighbors and the world.
Fun fact: Since the start, Meigy has donated 5% of her sales to a humanitarian eye care organization that helps people in third world countries get access to necessary and costly eye operations.
How did you get started?
I moved to Canada in June 2016, and when I arrived I had no friends or connections to the community other than my own husband. I couldn’t even drive at the time. All my life I had lived in very big cities, like Jakarta and Dubai, so Edmundston was a he change. Through Immigration Canada I was able to take classes to improve my French, and I met a friend. She went on vacation in France and brought me back a beautiful handmade soap. I became curious about the soap and started playing around to see if I could make something similar, as I’ve always loved beauty products.
At the same time I was trying to think of more ways to integrate into this community. I needed a way to meet people and relate to them and I wanted to have conversations and make connections. I saw that there was a farmer’s market here, so I started to make the soap I had been playing around with and taking it to the market in order to meet my community and neighbors. I just decided to go for it and see what happens. When I began I didn’t think it would go this far. I began to make all kinds of different products, and now I have a whole line of skincare essentials for women. It has been quite an experience, because I gained not only the sense of belonging that I was looking for, but I developed a business sort of by accident as a result.
What are your future plans for your business?
Well we have a son, who is 3 now and I just don’t have a lot of time to devote to the business right now because he’s my first priority. Until he goes to school I won’t really have the time to devote to scaling the business much larger. Until then, the holiday markets and the weekly markets are my focus.
What do you love about your business?
For me, the most important part of it is the same thing that got me started - going out to meet people and be social in this community. I also use the markets as a way to practice and improve my conversational French.
I love beauty products and I love when my customers give me feedback on my products. I have a lot of customers that appreciate the quality of my work and they come back to me. Repeat business is the best way to know that you’re helping people, and that makes me happy. It allows me to make friends and meet new people.
Has the community been supportive?
They were very supportive. They were very complimentary of the packaging and my process and they all stopped by to see what I was up to when I first started going to the market. There is a mentorship program here I was able to take advantage of (through HIVE). It motivates me to continue learning and examining my process. The mentorship program also helps me avoid mistakes, for example, pricing. I didn’t really think of this when I started, because my goal wasn’t to make money, but through my work with my mentor I was able to see that in a different way. I was able to put together a business and marketing plan and get an ally who gives me advice and helps me check in on my goals.
What is the biggest difficulty in your business?
Networking. It’s hard, especially when you don’t have a personal network in the community. Word of mouth is great, but it’s slow. It’s effective, but for me it’s really a challenge. I’m working on it and it’s getting better. Generally I find people who live here are extremely friendly, and they pass my name along.
What piece of advice would you offer other women starting their own business?
Do what you love and be open to learning from others. Find something that inspires or motivates you and join a group of like-minded people who you can trust with advice and feedback. Facebook groups are a great place to connect with others. Definitely always start with a business plan, no matter the type of business you’re starting – even if you only have one product.
How can we get in touch with you?
The Ms New Brunswick project is about taking a title back for all the women who really embody the heart and soul of our province through creative endeavours and entrepreneurship. The makers and doers who are sharing with us their time, energy and talents, and carrying us forward. Full-time or side hustle. Big or small. At home or in an office. Products or service. Crafters, moms, entrepreneurs, shop owners, consultants. Whatever. If there is a woman in our province giving life to an idea or product, I want to know about it.
If you or someone you know would be right for the Ms New Brunswick series please fill out the Nomination Form!