A new company featuring 100-per-cent natural skin-care products manufactured entirely in Vankleek Hill is aiming at national growth and development of new products to boost sales of its body creams, lotions and outdoor products.

Launched in July, Maïkan Nature produces all of its offerings at its manufacturing facility on Terry Fox Drive in Vankleek Hill, while marketing and promotions are done out of the company’s head office in St. Lazare, Quebec. The company currently occupies a 1,000-square-foot production space in the building it shares with its sister-company Aquasan and as sales of the product heat up, the space will be expanded.

“We’re doing research and development on new products right now so there will be a lot more products available come the fall and winter,” notes Maïkan co-founder Kristina Imeson, who owns the company along with father-son team Gilles and Philippe Fortin. “Right now we are focusing on development and manufacturing start-up. Locally our products are available at the Vankleek Hill Farmers’ Market and we are setting up other distribution channels.”

While sales remain regional at this time, one product which already has proven to be extremely popular is B!zzz Outdoor lotion, a natural repellent for mosquitoes and other bugs.

“The fact that we are all natural means we have a lot of essential oils with odors that repel mosquitoes, deer flies, horse flies and other insects,” Imeson says. “It’s a lotion, so you can put on your skin, your arms, your legs and it is good for children 12 months and older.

“The beauty is you can slather your kids with it and sit by the campfire and when it’s time to go to bed, you don’t have to worry about bathing them to get it off. It is super hydrating and really good for your skin. We are getting a lot of buzz on that product and it’s selling like hotcakes.”

Philippe Fortin, who has manned the Maïkan Nature booth at the Vankleek Hill Farmers’ Market each Saturday since the company launched its products, says he has been blown away by the popularity of B!zzz with local shoppers.

“Last Saturday at the market I sold eight bottles in the first half-hour,” comments Fortin, who expects shoppers to also embrace new formulations being developed by his company. “We’re very happy with the success of these products, but we have so many new products being developed right now – new soaps, products for winter, products for babies.

“We have so many products almost ready to go out but we are just holding off and doing a new release every two to three weeks.”

Maïkan Nature is also working on setting up a distribution network, with the current focus on Ontario and Quebec. The company has brought on board Melanie Albert – a third-generation herbologist- former owner of popular Quebec company Pissenlit & Coccinelle out of Valleyfield, Quebec as a consultant. Many of the products previously sold by Pissenlit & Coccinelle are being reformulated and developed as new releases by Maïkan, and the company is also contacting stores which previously distributed Albert’s products to see if they will add the new items to their offerings.

Both Imeson’s and the Fortins’ acknowledge the best avenue of promotion for the company’s products is the quality and level of detail the three founders put into each of the formulations they sell. All three are professional environmentalists and the company’s website emphasizes they use their scientific knowledge and passion for preservation to create products which reflect their values. Stringent production controls in the manufacturing facility ensure nothing but natural ingredients and exacting amounts go into each bottle.

“Everything is transformed here in Vankleek Hill and if you look at the ingredients label you will find them in our production room – all of our ingredients are of top quality,” says Philippe Fortin proudly. “It’s organic olive oil, sunflower oil – we go for the top-notch ingredients and we transform them right here.”

The company also makes a significant effort to purchase from Canadian producers when sourcing ingredients and other items required for production. That philosophy and the company’s commitment to the environment applies not just to ingredients, but to every aspect of the manufacturing process.

“Even our packaging we are ordering as much as possible from Quebec and Canadian suppliers,” Imeson points out. “We want to keep everything recyclable and good for the environment – all of our companies are focused on being environmentally friendly.”

The best way to purchase Maïkan Nature products locally is by visiting the Vankleek Hill Farmers’ Market when it is open on Saturdays. Products can also be ordered online through Maïkan Nature’s website, or by contacting the company via email at [email protected].

Maïkan Nature co-founder Philippe Fortin demonstrates the precise methods used by the company during the manufacturing process of the all-natural products made at its Vankleek Hill production facility.