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‘This is it’: The Om Organics Story

‘This is it’: The Om Organics Story

That fall was cool but sunny in the Columbia Valley. Summer had vanished with the tourists, and what remained was that harvest feeling of possibility, of turning the gifts from the land into other beautiful things to enjoy.

Like many twenty-somethings in Invermere, BC, Kari Asselin had work that she did more of during the tourist season (an esthetician at fancy spas), and she had work that she did more of in the colder months (at a local farm). There, she packed and labeled strawberry jam for a woman whose jars were now being sold at high end grocery stores and boutiques across western Canada.

“I thought it was so inspiring that this woman had this craft, she was making something of her own, and she had become so successful,” says Asselin. “It made me think, ‘What do I know really well? What could I create and sell?’”

As she rubbed flat the jam jar labels amidst the scent of berries and hot sugar, Kari thought about all the years she’d worked in spas and had been able to try the best of the best in skin care products, and yet her own sensitive, breakout-prone skin had never changed.

The idea came to her as a gentle but urgent plea: natural skin care.
“As soon as I was on that path, I knew, from the deepest part of my self, this is it. This is right.”

TO THE MARKET I GO

Kari quit both jobs. She spent every penny she could find or borrow on raw materials. She took courses. She turned her kitchen into her research and development lab, and herself, product tester number one.

“It was a night and day difference, and it happened so fast,” says Asselin, who was blown away by how much her skin improved with formulations made entirely of all-natural ingredients. “After seeing what I could create and how effective it was, I knew I needed to bring super effective, potent products to people who had struggled like I had.”

For many women, that struggle is a cycle they’ve been in since their teen years: washing and washing with harsh cleansers to get rid of oiliness or breakouts, only to wake up with skin that’s even more red and sensitive and blemished.

“It was a constant battle of keeping everything under control. Before, I always felt like I needed to put something else on, fix something. With these clean formulations I was creating, my skin was so much calmer and more balanced.”
She gave the company behind these potions a name: Om Organics. Om, the vibration, they say, of the universe.

While the kitchen became the Om Organics warehouse/laboratory—boxes and pots and potions taking up every square inch of countertop, to the point she had to stop cooking food in there to avoid cross-contamination—farmers’ markets were the first shelves where women found and tried her oils and butters and cleansers, sprays and salts and scents. Unique variations and combinations of herbs, plants and essential oils: prickly pear seed oil, black cumin, white willow bark, to name just a few. The women who stopped at her stall could never believe it: You make this yourself? They’re completely organic? It’s so affordable!

She realized how much it means to her, and to Om fans, that there’s a face behind these jars, a Canadian woman’s face, and that everything is crafted in small batches with great care. That it’s accessible, to every woman.

A few years in, a local hairdresser, said to Kari, “You know, you’re going to be the Kicking Horse Coffee of skin care.” Kicking Horse, the famed coffee bean maker also of Invermere.

HEADING DOWNTOWN, AND AROUND THE WORLD

Kari would have been content to keep her formulations on the stove and bottle 700 jars at a time by hand, but her boyfriend, now husband, convinced her that she needed equipment, a proper space to make and store and sell the products she was continuously selling out of.

On the rainy May long weekend of 2016, they opened the doors to the Om Organics Apothecary in downtown Invermere, a then 1200 square-foot building with ornate wooden shelving and furniture crafted by her carpenter boyfriend.
Kari remembers the sea of faces, the smiles. That feeling, This is what we’ve worked so hard for.

Each day since then, and in all the wonderful ways she could not have imagined, Om Organics has grown: Retail sales. Wholesale. Online sales. Across Canada and around the world.

After participating in the Columbia Basin Trust’s RevUp program, Kari says she “learned how to be a CEO…and that was invaluable.”

Now, while she still leans on her intuition, she also makes decisions based on data. During those six months, in which she received mentorship from three expert executives, Om Organics was stripped to its most basic parts and beginnings—that moment on the farm when she felt the heart-skipping feeling of her clean skin care idea—and built it back up on a foundation of vision, values and strategy.

Not long after adopting the adjacent retail space, doubling their square footage, Om Organics launched a much slicker website to support e-commerce. In the face of COVID-19, the storefront shifted to curbside pick-up for locals, and shipping online orders.

“Sales skyrocketed,” says Kari, whose team was able to make more products so much more efficiently in the entire 2400 square feet, and thrilled at the joy of bringing Om Organics into homes in places they’d never heard of, and all those beautiful reviews that spoke to their hearts. They now have their eyes on a new production facility in Invermere that will “sustain us for a really long time.”


“I walked into the store and couldn’t believe they were making the products on site. I went home with a new skincare regime and haven’t looked back.”
-Onalee O.


Discover the quality and integrity of our clean formulations for yourself! Shop Om Organics products and find your new favorite everything skincare.

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