It’s May 2005.
I’m walking to my new cubicle to start my first ‘real’ job. You know the kind, nine to five, benefits, paid holidays… Special Issue Claims Specialist was my title. I had just finished a brief contract position with the company for RRSP season and was hired on to a permanent position, one of which I knew nothing about. Seated at my desk already was a smiling blond woman. She stood up as I approached and shook my hand. “Hello, I’m Jessica” she said, “I’ll be your trainer for the next 3 weeks.” I was taking the job she quit to follow her dreams.
Have you ever met someone and hit it off right away?
Have you ever gotten the feeling that you’re standing beside someone on to great things?
Do you know what I mean when I say ‘the aura of ambition’?
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Jessica Burman, owner and CEO of Kitchener based company Cocoon Apothecary. Although my first meeting with her was in a corporate setting, it quickly evolved into a friendship with business benefits. Granted, we did get through our training at the corporate company under the guise of acting professional but the very first night I met Jessica, she came to my home and brought me samples of her new products. I was to be a guinea pig and was eager to do so. In our conversations I would ask Jessica why she wanted to leave her stable job and start her own company. She would lament that she picked the hardest industry to break through in but always stood by her product, firm in her belief of its superior quality. There was no Plan B for Jessica. Only success. This kind of motivation and ambition can sweep anyone up in its current. I was taken and impressed by my new friend. Her conviction was contagious and I’ve looked to her for business advice now for over a decade.
“My first business idea was to create a store, an apothecary where I could sell many different natural beauty brands. As I was researching the best products to stock, I started stumbling on beauty recipes and ingredients. I knew I had found my calling because ideas starting pouring out of me, and Cocoon Apothecary was born.” – Jessica Burman
While her website was in its beta stages, I started out by writing copy for her. She had minimal products and her geographical location and
demographic was Kitchener based. The term ‘ma and pa shop’ can be used loosely in describing the first years of Cocoon Apothecary because Jessica made the products in her basement and hand delivered them like the Avon lady. It was close and intimate. I still remember the time she showed me her new alchemy lab that her husband Lane had made for her. I remember the smell of lavender that still lingers in all Cocoon Apothecary products.
The smell of lavender IS Jessica to me.
Fast-forward a decade. Now Jessica is the mother of 2 little girls and her husband Lane works alongside her each day. They have a 2300 square foot factory in Kitchener where they make and ship out numerous products under the Cocoon Apothecary line. Most recently, Cocoon Apothecary has
launched a new men’s line – Malechemy. Over the years, Jessica has had to evolve with the times; social media wasn’t even invented when her company first started. Her expanding market could be partially because of social media and its means of sharing a message worldwide, something that wasn’t possible in the same way in 2005. Jessica has travelled to New York City to have lunch with the Clintons, Bill and Hilary, she has had supermodel Lindsay Wixson endorse her products, Cocoon Apothecary has been featured in the likes of highly revered Flare Magazine and its story has graced many a media outlet, both print and online. Jessica continues to be a voice in the beauty industry community as a knowledgeable and trusted writer and blogger. Cocoon Apothecary stands by its ethical treatment of animals, its eco-friendly approach to packaging and distribution, the use of the highest quality ingredients and is helping nature make a comeback, as is its motto.
Now, our conversations revolve around business in a different way. No longer are we crunching numbers for an insurance and investment company, we compare notes on how to build our own dreams as entrepreneurs. I look up to Jessica like a go-getter entrepreneurial big sister who has forged her path with huge successes to accomplish a goal she set years and years ago. She has a look on her face when I see her now, one of contentment, a surety so to speak, because she has jumped the hoops and continues to do so, keeping up to date with the latest innovations and ways she can improve her product and branding. She and Lane work as a well-oiled machine together, not only making the product themselves with their small team in Kitchener but also tackling the task of marketing it and delivering it around the world. It’s nothing short of inspiring to have been one of the first to use her bath scrubs and face creams and now know the likes of supermodels have caught on to how good Jessica’s products are.
If there ever was a shining example of growth, never giving up and standing ground in a competitive and difficult industry, it’s Jessica Burman and her company Cocoon Apothecary. Time and time again she reminds me to never give up. That there are good times and bad times in business but “the key is to ride the wave”. And to moisturize at all times so the stress doesn’t give you wrinkles. Jessica is the wrinkle fighting, body delicacy dealing Escobar of the North, really, but not only that, she is an exceptionally motivated woman who works each day to make her dreams come to fruition.
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