Canabelle Received a big write up in the Star thanks to Kayra Williams who braved public transport from Castries all the way to Soufriere and then to Canaries to interview the Co-op. Here is the link to the full article below.
Below is the basic text of the Article:
The Canabelle Women of Canaries
By Kayra Williams
A trip to Canaries is incomplete without visiting Spring’s Bread to take home the tastiest bread on the island or dropping by Plas Kassav to find scrumptious flavoured cassava or even lend a hand in the cassava making process. For most, the knowledge of the village is limited to its roadside scenery. Most of the premier attractions of Canaries are on the outskirts. The rest of Canaries is by-passed by most en route to Soufriere or other locations.
A new industry might just give people a reason to make Canaries their number one spot and at the same time, boost the community’s tourism product. Canabelle Cooperative Society Ltd is taking the best of St Lucia and putting it into their handmade soap products. The new company boasts all natural and handmade soaps made with 100 percent soya oil, coconut olive oil, sunflower oil, natural local herbs and vitamin E.
The soap making initiative started seven years ago with a now non-existent organization—SL Rep, St Lucia Rural Enterprises Project—and originally began with 20 women from Canaries. The project’s intention was to reduce the unemployment rate in Canaries, presently one of the highest on the island.
Gregory Deterville president of the Canabelle Cooperative told the STAR some of the women from the project had "fallen by the wayside." The numbers had dwindled from 20 to 10 only a year ago. Now only six ladies remained. The women told the STAR others left because nothing was happening. They did their work voluntary and knew they wouldn’t get paid until the company began flourishing.
Despite that, they persevered primarily because they wanted to see change in Canaries. "We don’t want Cannabelle to go down," said one worker. "We’re here voluntarily, we all have families. We’re here sacrificing our time coming here to help form a product that may one day help generate income in Canaries."
The first home of Canabelle, the Canaries Community Center was deemed inadequate because workers couldn’t stay there for long periods of time and would frequently be kicked out when meetings needed to be held. Today, Canabelle’s producing takes places at the Old Church in Canaries which was badly in need of repair.
But it was clear that a lot of work had been done; the structure was a far cry from the dilapidated building they’d initially used. They’d cleaned up and even replaced the massive doors that had once been dryrot. It wasn’t much but they didn’t have to pay to use the building. Leo Klejnot, a US Peace Corps volunteer from Indiana on a two-year assignment to help develop Canaries, was working with Canabelle to raise funds and market the product.
He spoke highly of the ladies who were the heart and soul of the product. "This is how all good things start; you have to have faith, vision and it takes courage," he said. "That’s what these ladies have. They’ve been doing this for seven years; it’s about time things started falling in place. I really hope the government starts backing this project.
There is a need for more manufacturing in St Lucia." One hotel in the south had already stepped up not only to sponsor Canabelle, but also to distribute their soap to hotel guests. Ladera Resort was present at Canabelle’s launch on Thursday.
"We’re going to create a product that will be tailor made for them," said Klejnot. "A smaller soap that can be given to tourists in the hotel." Plans are already in the pipelines to start marketing the Canabelle product to other hotels. Canabelle’s president hoped the venture would bring tourists into the community to visit Canabelle, see the soap making process and of course, purchase their product.
"We’re hoping to receive some more assistance to enhance our product and that our production and soap will make some headway not only in St Lucia but abroad." said Deterville. Both Klejnot and Deterville spoke of plans to renovate the building and later, transform part of it into a craft market. "If tourists are going to come in to see the soap making process, we might as well have other items being sold; local craft. This is a good project and if it takes off, this will assist with the unemployment crisis in Canaries," said Klejnot.
The ladies––Cyrilia Alfred, Margaret Sydney, Gertrude Monrose, Theresa Prospere, Helen Charles and Aisha St John––were an effective marketing team for Canabelle Soap. They all used the soap and said the natural oils kept their skin young. After seeing the glow on their exuberant faces, it was impossible to doubt the product’s effectiveness. They guaranteed that anyone who used it would see a difference in their skin and said even babies could use their mild soap.
Canabelle’s Aloe Vera/ Cucumber soap could be used to reduce the appearance of fine lines around the eyes and on the face. Sulphur, to treat and prevent liver spots and rash; Oatmeal to keep skin smooth and healthy and Glory Cedar to improve skin appearance while treating eczema, rash and also insect bites. Their Aloe and oat soap was clinically proven to treat acne, eczema, insect bites and keep skin smooth. Plain aloe soap was also available. Their Sulphur and Aloe Vera soap was best for insect bites, acne, rash, dry skin, burnsand was also a great moisturizer. Other varieties included Hibiscus, tea tree/mint, cinnamon and nutmeg.
All printing and packaging was done at Canabelle. Single soaps cost $6 and their twin pack gift packs cost $12. Bulk prices were also available. Outlets for Canabelle soap include, M& C Drug Store, Pharmacy 2000, Clarke’s drug store, Island pharmacy, People Discount Drugs and Alexis Drugs Store.
Caption:Canaries has a high rate of unemployment and these women are trying to change that.