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New Brunswick couple turns soap into hope for their business

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WATCH: The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on small local businesses. One New Brunswick couple with a small business wants to turn soap into hope in order to keep their business thriving. Shelley Steeves reports – Oct 26, 2020

A New Brunswick couple is turning soap into hope to keep their business thriving amid COVID-19.

The process of making all-natural homemade soaps has always been bit of a messy job for Alex Batten and Erica Steeves of Riverview, N.B.

The couple owns Rosemary Wellness and manufactures homemade all-natural vegan soaps in the basement of their home.

Read more: N.B. reports 3 new COVID-19 cases, 2,400 tested in Campbellton this weekend

But when the pandemic hit,  Batten said he thought for sure their entire business might be soiled for good.

“When COVID hit, places started closing down, we thought, ‘This is it, it might be the end of our business,'” said Batten.

He and his partner started the soap making business in 2016.

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“In a matter of a few days we had a lot of stores closed and a lot of orders cancelled” said Steeves.

Click to play video 'Public health officials in New Brunswick believe there is community spread' Public health officials in New Brunswick believe there is community spread
Public health officials in New Brunswick believe there is community spread – Oct 23, 2020

It was heartbreaking, said the pair, who run their business in memory of Erica’s mother who passed away from cancer two years ago

“My mother was with us actually the first time we ever made soap”, said Steeves.

A heart is stamped on every bar in memory of her mom, said Steeves, whom she says taught her to never give up.

So, with their retailers shutting down in Canada and in the U.S., Steeves said it was time to pivot.

Read more: Coronavirus: Some businesses in Campbellton region shutter for third time

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The couple switched their focus to online sales and the result was nothing like they ever imagined, said Batten.

“It just kind of went hand in hand for us and it was surprising and great”, he said.

With health officials calling for people to wash their hands often to slow the spread of COVID-19, Batten said, demand for their soaps started to bubble over.

Online sales jumped 10 fold in just a few months and when restriction started to ease and stores started to reopen, Batten said their retail sales tripled.

“To turn that horrible negative into something in a small positive that we had is unreal”, said Batten.

“Every day I wake up and I am thankful that our business is thriving at this time, said Steeves, who said she feels like her mom is watching other them, grateful they’ve managed to persevere in such trying times.

“I believe she would be just amazed and so proud”, she said.

In a show of gratitude, now every time Steeves stamps a heart on a bar to be shipped out to a customer, she said a little bit of her mother’s love and support goes with it.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.