We started out as two women with a desire to see our families and friends be able to use healthy, natural, environmentally-friendly products. From a small booth at the local farmer’s market to selling to stores Canada-wide, we’ve come a long way!
It all started with a dead ring of grass in Joann’s back yard. She had always been into eating healthy – canning food, making bread from scratch, keeping her family away from fast foods, avoiding prescription drugs… but had never paid attention to what she was putting on her skin. This all changed when one day, she found a ring of dead grass where her kids had placed their tent a week before. Being a Mom, she immediately yelled at her kids: “What did you do to the lawn?!” The answer: “The mosquitoes were coming in so we sprayed *** (a well known mosquito spray) around the tent.” She was horrified! If it killed the grass and poisoned the soil, what was it doing to her kids?
She checked Health Canada to see if there were any warnings about this mosquito spray. There was a whole page about how it could cause seizures in young children, how you should never use it under clothing, shower it off when you came inside, never leave it on for more than 4 hours, don’t breathe it in… Her family had always used *** like everyone else – you spray it on and forget about it. But after reading the warnings from Health Canada, she couldn’t believe they could sell this stuff. Did people know about these dangers? She decided there must be a better, safer spray out there.
Throughout Joann’s search, she came across other information about the ingredients in many skin care products. As she discovered more about the harmful contents of so many household items, she became determined to get her family off the bad chemical products everyone uses and go NATURAL. She started reading ingredients before purchasing anything. She educated herself and her kids on harmful products and their side effects. Back in the early ‘90’s, essential oils were just starting to become available and they sounded like a great alternative. Soon she was mixing up all kinds of concoctions using everything from weeds to exotic-sounding oils like almond and mango. Her friends loved her lotions and soaps and encouraged her to sell down at the farmer’s market.
Mercy MSM Natural Pain Relief has been Cloud 9’s most successful product. It all began with some chronic pain issues. Trish (Joann’s business partner at the time) had heard about MSM (an organic chemical compound) helping with pain and inflammation and Joann began researching and formulating a product. They weren’t scientists, although they had a passion for natural products. As Joann likes to say, “Between the two of us, we had a brain and a loads of common sense!” They started with lots of information and ingredients, experimenting with things like capsaicin peppers, black pepper, white willow bark, salves, creams, butters and lotions. Trish finally came up with an MSM lotion and Joann had a combination of essential oils that she called Mercy. It took two years, no wages, and lots of failures before it finally worked! It worked in less than 5 minutes, lasted for 6-8 hours, AND it took down the swelling!
Together, they decided to call it Mercy MSM and started selling it at the Red Deer farmers’ market. People loved it. Their sales grew by word of mouth and people started using it for all kinds of pain. Despite having very little money, Trish convinced Joann that they needed to go bigger. Soon, they were doing Home and Garden shows and began selling wholesale to small stores as well. When asked about this phase, they smile. “Our packaging was terrible and we didn’t know how to market, but we had a great product!”
All this time, the business came second to family. Joann was a single mom of 4 and believed family was a priority. Coaching, volunteer work, and leading a life that set a good example was a priority. Work would always be there, but their kids wouldn’t. Finally, in 2011, the kids had graduated from high school and Joann was free to actively pursue Mercy MSM and the business.
Money was always tight and for 6 years the ladies at Cloud 9 didn’t bring home a wage. Every penny went back into building the company so that they could remain debt free and have managed to remain debt-free to this day!
Today, Cloud 9 focuses on products that are completely natural, chemical free, organic and fair trade where possible. Product development focuses on products that actually help people in some way – with pain, damaged, or sore skin. Damage Control (helps cracked, painful skin), Nature’s Touch (helps with psoriasis and scar tissue), 4 Thieves (antiviral), Mercy MSM (natural pain relief), and Essential Oils. Their products are effective, safe to put on your skin, safe for all ages, and finally safe for the environment and animals (and although they aren’t typically food products, they are technically safe to eat, too! Once, a customer mistook the Mercy Soak for a tea and had been drinking it for months.
Cloud 9 Naturally products are found Canada wide and they continue to expand their business every year.
A Message from Joann & Trish
We have always believed in our work making Natural products, even when nobody cared because it wasn’t cool or trendy yet. We believe in helping people live healthier lives by manufacturing environmentally safe products, helping people in third world countries by buying Fair trade, and helping the planet by not using man-made chemicals. We believe that we must set an example for our children and children’s children (we are now grandparents) by eating healthy, working in a healthy environment, and by donating our time and money to causes we hold dear.
Over the years, we have coached sports teams, taught free classes, taught children at risk, sat on boards for seniors, taught women’s entrepreneurial classes, volunteered at the local soup kitchen, sewed for the homeless, and volunteered at our kids’ schools. One of our most recent projects was a trip to Costa Rica to work in the barrios with women in crisis, buying and delivering sewing machines to help teach them new work skills to better support their families.
We never let money, nay sayers, or our lack of a Ph.D or other specific education keep us from pursuing what we believed in. Believe in yourself and pursue your passion.
We may not change our world in a big way but between us and our families, we are a few drops in the bucket and every small contribution helps. We hope we can inspire you to read labels, make informed decisions for you and your family and set an example to those around you. Join us and be a drop in the bucket. Together we can make a change!
….and by the way, the grass never did grow back around that ring in Joann’s back yard.