When Rosy Atwal became pregnant with her first child, she said she began looking for a line of organic care products.
But it became apparent, she said, that there weren’t any organic lines that she could find, so she decided to develop her own.
Maple Organics, which was founded by Atwal and longtime friend Ashley Ward, recently received the New Business of the Year award from the Surrey Board of Trade. The company, Atwal said, is based in Surrey.
The two, she said, went to the same business school but graduated two years apart.
“We missed each other at school, but then when we both were in Vancouver, we ran into each other at a ‘women in business’ panel and we actually became really good friends. We hit it off and had a great interaction.”
Atwal said it was in 2009/2010, and on her own, that she started to make formulations for products, but then life got in the way.
“I started making them years ago because I was trying to develop cleaner products for my son,” she said. “Then I got pretty busy with trying to have babies, and trying to keep my day job.
“I actually worked for an organic food company at the time, so I really had a strong understanding of the benefits of organic farming, the organic produce that’s developed and how it reduces toxin overloads in your body and also how it allows more micronutrients to be delivered to your body through your skin or through your consumption of foods.”
When Atwal’s son got sick with the flu for the first time, according to Maple Organics website, “Atwal was determined to develop an effective, healthy alternative to the mainstream brands for relief of his symptoms
“Working closely with Health Canada and a chemist, she reverse engineered several mainstream topical ointments to extract the active medical ingredients. She then suspended them in an organic base,” the website reads. “As a result, we are proud to say that we are Canada’s first Organic Pharmaceutical Company.”
When the women were starting the company, Atwal said they weren’t aware Maple Organics was the country’s first organic pharmaceutical company. Maple Organics is also a USDA Organic and Health Canada approved company.
“We were just trying to provide cleaner options, and then as we started to look at our ingredients, we recognized that we were plant based,” Atwal said. “When we realized it was (the first organic pharmaceutical company in Canada), we thought, ‘Oh, we’re just basically going back to plant medicine.”
In the couple of years since starting, Atwal said she hasn’t seen another organic pharmaceutical company, but she said she doesn’t see that lasting long.
“I’m sure that they’ll come because there’s definitely a big interest from consumers to clean out their medicine cabinets.”
Maple Organics, according to a media release, had the opportunity to sell products at mass supermarkets, but instead chose to use a direct sales approach.
Atwal said the company now has hundreds of consultants across the country. She said the reason for the direct sales approach was to allow people “to be able to earn income without being stuck in a corporate 9-5 environment, where they’re commuting and rushing and kind of missing those little moments.”
“I think the biggest thing for Ashley and I, in that moment was, not only are we able to help people be healthier through our products, we are also able to make them kind of well through our income,” said Atwal, adding that it’s “really a holistic approach for wellness.”
Atwal said it was an “incredible feeling” to receive the award with Ward by her side.
“We had this big dream of creating these opportunities for men and women to start their own businesses selling our products and we did it in a way that would empower families to create a life of choice, one that was steeped in whichever family traditions they wanted.”