Coming up I hope :)

I have requested two interviews.

1. Eviction Lab, want to know what is happening with evictions in the USA. Check this site out it's not pretty but it's important to talk about. So i have emailed and asked them for some insights.

2. I also contacted a site that does specialty tea sets. I hope to have someone from the site based in the UK contact me soon for an inerview.

3. I have also sent a request to two more people one expert on heat waves and a company that provides expert witnesses for trials.

C. T.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Au Savon de Marseille les Grands Ballets Canadiens & The Nutcracker Market. What Do They Have In Common? Ahh Read Below To Find Out

It's November and we all know what that means, next month Christmas. Already in the works are a variety of partys and events to celebrate the season. One event that is coming up in the Montreal area is the Nutcracker Market. The event is held each year near the end of November and goes into the first week of December. It is run by les Grands Ballets Canadiens. The event raises funds for the troop's youth program.

One of the companies that will be participating in the event is Au Savon de Marseille. The company sells soaps from the Marseille region of France here in Quebec. I contacted Stephane Thibaud to find out more about the company and what drew him to the Nutcracker Market. Stephane thanks for being a part of Candid Conversations.

Stephane Thibaud: Thank you Cliff for highlighting our participation in the Nutcracker Market. It is the second edition and this Christmas market really deserves to be known by the public. As you mentioned, it is also a philanthropic event. 

Cliff T.: I have to admit I have not heard of Au Savon de Marseille. From what I can see your an online retailer. How long have you been selling soap for?

Stephane Thibaud: You can wish us happy birthday. We have been selling soaps for exactly two years this month. In fact our website was launched as a fast and a low cost way to test the potential of this great soap in Canada. Now we are ready to move on. Opening a street store is one of our options but, we also want to develop and improve our wholesale capacity. Already Le Marché Vert in Saint-Sauveur and La Maison Oléa in Bromont are offering our Marseille soaps. 

Cliff T.: Now from what I read on your site Marseille soaps have been around for a long time, since the 16th century, what makes this soap unique? 

Stephane Thibaud: The first soap was made in Marseille in 1360 but, in the 16th century is the very beginning of the industrial era of the Marseille soap. The success of this soap can be summed up in four simple facts: efficient while being safe, versatile, and long-lasting. Efficient and safe because it does what it is supposed to do: cleaning up without pretending to get your skin younger or things like that. It is a well known soap among people who have skin irritation or people who have to clean up their hands often. Considered as a hypoallergenic soap, mothers use it to wash their baby clothes. Versatile: we can use the very same Marseille soap for our personal hygiene and use it as a household cleanser, laundry soap and even as a natural insecticide (it kills aphids). Its properties are very well known in Europe but I must admit this is something not so easy to explain here in North America. We have been told for decades to buy one product for the kitchen, one to clean up our clothes, a different soap for our toes and and another one for our hands. But, Marseille soaps do all those tasks, even better and safer than industrial detergents or cosmetics! I could talk for ever about this soap but the last important things I want to bring up to your reader is its quality and the way it is made. A genuine Marseille soap must contain at least 72% of vegetable fat oil and be made according to the old “Marseille process”. It is this manufacturing process and the percentages of oil that make this soap such a high quality and long lasting product. One of my friends told me I was crazy to start a business that sells long lasting products. I said I must be crazy but as a consumer, I am also fed up with this modern marketing concept which is to make a product obsolete after a very short time or so. Anyway, as part of our effort to explain what a Marseille soap is, our website displays videos that were taken right into the soap factories. They are all in french but, at least everyone can get a very good idea on how this soap is made, a process that takes more than 20 days. is where one can see the videos. 

Cliff T.: This is your second year at the Nutcracker Market. How did you get involved with les Grands Ballets Canadiens? 

Stephane Thibaud: We were contacted last year by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and they asked us if we would like to participate in the first edition. They were searching for merchants who are offering products of great quality and hard to find here in Quebec.

Cliff T.: As noted in the introduction the event helps raise funds for the troop. What exactly does the money get used for?

Stephane Thibaud: 10% of the merchant’s sales and all other revenues go to the Nutcracker Fund for Children. This fund is aimed at helping disadvantaged children who want to take part in educational workshops and also attend a ballet. This will also help with production of the Nutcracker ballet which is mostly attended by children.

Cliff T.: Stephane, was this one of those events you heard about and said I have to do this? What was the motivation to become part of the Nutcracker Market? 

Stephane Thibaud: 2010 was the first year of the Nutcraker Market so of course, we could not have heard about it. When the team of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens called us in September that year and asked if we would participate…well…to be honest, we did hesitate and took a few weeks to think about it. First, my business was not even one year old and we were absolutely not prepared to do such an event. You must know that I am running this by myself with the help of my conjoint. We have unfortunately no employees to help us and not a bit of an expertise on how to manage such events. Beside, we did not know what to expect since this Christmas market has never taken place before! 

Then we remembered that starting a business is about taking some risks. We also put in the balance the fact that this could be our opportunity to learn how to prepare for an event like that. It is also important for an online based business to get in touch with its customers outside the net, in a more physical way, especially when you sell soap.

The other motivations came from the fact that this is not only a market but also a philanthropic activity. We really like this concept which is in perfect accordance with our philosophy, not only as a business but as persons. Last but not least, I must confess: the invitation to participate in this new project was really flattering. You know, merchants were selected and invited according to the concept which is to offer hard to find good quality products. Nine months after starting a business, we were feeling rewarded already! 

Cliff T.: Au Savon Marseille at a charity market must make for some interesting conversations, what has been the reaction to your entry last year and your entry this year in the Nutcraker Market?

Stephane Thibaud: reactions were all positive. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens were really happy to see us last year and we must have been of a good help in their cause since they invited us again. This year we did not think twice before accepting the invitation. The experience is great for the Nutcracker Market visitors too, we get to meet customers face to face and explain to them what a Marseille soap is, its history, its uses. People see that we do not hide behind our website and even that we are not a big corporate entity, we can do something via our business to help others in the community. 

Cliff T.: And, are you going to be taking orders or selling the soaps you feature on your site during the event?

Stephane Thibaud: Of course. Having an online business is like having a store you can never close. Fortunately and just as last year, I have my retired parents coming right from France to help us.

Cliff T.: Sounds like you will be having some fun and helping a worthy cause thanks for sharing the story with us here on Candid Conversations.

Stephane Thibaud: It is my pleasure. I do invite your readers to come visit The Nutcraker Market at le Palais des Congrès de Montréal, November 24 – December 4, 2011. There will be about 69 other passionate merchants who will be there to offer wonderful gift ideas and contribute to the Nutcracker Fund for Children. 

Stephane Thibaud from Au Savon de Marseille a company that sells the world famous Marseilles soaps online is participating this year, for the second time, in the Nutcracker Market. The event raises money for les Grands Ballets Canadiens. You can find out more about the company and the event by going to the website, Stephane wrote from his offices from the Montreal area.