As Canada Day approaches, brightly patriotic red-and-white maple leaf flags are on view on streets and buildings across Canada. The flag might be a good visual and symbolic representation of the nation, but how would you capture the country’s smell? Perhaps it’s the comforting aroma of a double double coffee, the clover of Cape Breton, the balsam fir of Jasper National Park or the heady smell of … peameal bacon?
Natalie Gluic’s company, Smells Like Canada, captures all of these scents in whimsical soy candles that she sells online. Her new Parks of Canada candles feature the earthy smell of the country’s favourite forests and are a perfect aromatic accompaniment to Canada Day.
Where did the idea of creating Canada-scented candles come from? As it turns out, it’s one part affinity for smell — “I’ve always found scent to be the biggest trigger for memory, and it’s something that I always wanted to dabble with,” explains Natalie — and one part brainstorming session. “I came up with the concept of connecting smell to place, using places across Canada and thought, ‘Hey! This is a really good idea — I’m going to do that!’”
A Toronto resident, Natalie is keenly aware of how many Canadians are living away from their hometowns. The candles are designed to bring a little of where people once lived to where they are now. On her Etsy page, she writes, “I found that people from across the country were nostalgic for the wet rainy forests of BC, or the sweet air of Nova Scotia. So I thought I could help forge that connection through a line of products themed after the towns that shape our Canadian landscape.”
Natalie is already familiar with the perils of being a small business owner. For instance, she got burned by a department store that created their own version of her product just a few months after buying and stocking her candles. “It was an extremely demoralizing process where my idea — the true value of my business — was taken from me,” she remembers.
Now, things have brightened and expansion may be on the horizon. Natalie finds herself wondering whether she should continue making all her products at home by hand or scale up and start hiring employees.
Natalie discovered Square when she was selling her candles at the One of a Kind Show in Toronto a few years ago. As a cash-only vendor, having to say no to requests to pay by card was limiting her income. These days, she’s happy she can say yes when making in-person sales at gift shows and pop-ups. “I don’t have a brick-and-mortar store,” Natalie says, “so buying a full point-of-sale system (POS) is just not cost effective. Square allows me to have the flexibility of a POS without having to handle the large costs associated with it.”