This past year has made us see our city and its communities with different eyes. Now it’s time to rediscover it on a bike! To celebrate Summer 2021, Opus honours these communities by presenting a series of interviews that celebrate Montreal entrepreneurship, the strength of urban life and its inspiring people.
What role does biking play in your lifestyle?
Cycling has always been part of my daily life. I don’t drive, so it’s my go-to transportation for running errands. My husband also loves biking; in fact road cycling is his sport. Since we’ve been together, he’s introduced me to road cycling and sometimes I follow him during our van trips.
Which neighbourhood resonates most with you and why?
Saint-Henri! We've lived in the area for almost four years. I love having the canal within walking distance, so I can go there just to read and relax on the grass. It’s really beautiful in summer!
What do you like most about urban living?
Being close to restaurants and cafes. Plus, the relationships we build with local merchants. Grocery shopping in small independent stores, with access to local products, is a big priority for me. My neighbourhood gives me these choices. I love it!
What role do you want to play in your community?
I’m always looking to make a positive impact. For me, it’s important to support neighbourhood retailers and to buy local products as much as possible. We really must work toward building our neighbourhood’s vitality. The things that make a neighbourhood great to live in are its sense of community, collaboration and mutual aid.
Which community issue concerns you most?
Since the start of the pandemic, it’s been painful to watch local retailers and restaurateurs struggle to survive. To live in a community is to participate in its shared life. Over the years, these restaurant and café owners have become friends. So when the dining rooms closed, I did my best to continue my support. I’d buy my lunch sandwich at September café, my coffee at Cordova, my dinner from Sumac, and then I’d order a nice bottle of organic wine from Stem Bar. I encourage local business owners as much as I can because they enrich my community and to see them struggle is to see my neighbourhood decline.
How did you come up with the idea for Apprenti Ôr'ganik ?
I’ve always been drawn to midwives, shamans and healers. I was intrigued by the stories of women who had this gift, this intuitive sense for plants and nature. But the real trigger came during a trip to Morocco four years ago. I was in the heart of the souk, surrounded by the market’s utter chaos, when I found my calling. I discovered a tiny herbalist's kiosk shrouded in dried flowers, clay, herbs and oils of every kind. I could have spent hours there! I had never seen so many ingredients derived directly from Mother Nature!
I returned to Montreal with a bag full of treasures from Morocco. Later, in my kitchen, I became one of those women that have always intrigued me. My switch to natural products was effortless because of the way my husband and I chose to live our lives. I never planned on turning my hobby into a business. But gradually people started asking for my products and I thought, "Why not?" I pushed aside my doubts and questions and created something beautiful. I went for it — and I don't regret it!
What does this achievement mean to you?
It's huge! I now make a living from my passion and my lifestyle is now my work. Thanks to my customers’ loyalty and support, I’m now participating in a circular economy by hiring a small local lab to take charge of production, and my hemp oil supplier is a small local family farm.
What do you think is the strength of Apprenti Ôr'ganik?
Our values and the quality of our products. We’re committed to using high quality ingredients that are as good for the environment as they are for the skin. Our products are lovingly handcrafted and promote holistic skin care and a deeper connection to the Earth.
What’s your biggest source of inspiration and motivation as an entrepreneur?
My husband! [Laughs.] I don't have to look too far. He’s been the founder and owner of an ethical menswear company for about eight years. Competition is fierce in the fashion industry, and it’s both noble and inspiring to see him stick to his values and ethics.
How do you see the future of Apprenti Ôr'ganik?
I would like to have my own natural cosmetics lab one day so I can create jobs and help other small businesses start on the right foot.
What's your hope for the future of urban life?
Urban projects that are ecological and sustainable. Green roofs, a truly functioning bike path system and a better way for cars and bikes to circulate in the same environment. Montreal is such a beautiful city and I know we can do better. Having visited Copenhagen, I know that these sustainable urban projects are not utopian and that they really can work.
How did you feel when Opus approached you to offer its platform?
That mutual aid enriches and sustains a healthy community. This is something that many Montreal companies share. We all want to help each other. Together we can go further, so I am grateful for this forum.
What is a #chasethatsmile moment in your daily life?
My weekend camping trips with my man and my old dog. Heading off into nature is always the best!
As part of her commitment to her community, Alexandrine will donate her Opus participant’s fee to a cause that’s close to her heart!
Which organization did you decide to support and why?
Filles d’Action :https://www.girlsactionfoundation.ca/
It’s a non-profit that strongly believes in young women and gender diversity as powerful agents of social change. I truly wish that everyone, but especially young women, has the opportunity to fully realize themselves.
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