When Barb Stegemann won the chance to make her pitch on the CBC-TV program Dragons’ Den, she drew upon her experiences at King’s and ended up becoming the first woman from Atlantic Canada to score a deal on the show.
“Just like they taught us in J-school, I did my homework,” she says. “That presentation took months to prepare.”
Stegemann is the founder of 7 Virtues, a “Make Perfume Not War” fragrance line that sources oils from countries shattered by political, economic and environmental strife. Her venture began in response to the brutal injuries and difficult recovery that friend and fellow King’s grad, Captain Trevor Greene, experienced while serving in Afghanistan. By purchasing orange blossom oil cultivated by Afghanistan’s farmers, Stegemann is helping the local economy while providing a lucrative alternative to producing opiates. The story has been adapted into an award-winning documentary, Perfume War, released in 2016.
Stegemann’s humanities education has informed her work until this day: inspired by her reading of classical philosophy in the Foundation Year Program (FYP), Stegemann has woven these ideas into her public speaking, her writing, and even her perfumes.
“I follow Michelangelo’s philosophy of beauty, which holds expression over form. It’s not your looks that matter, but your power and dignity.”
Between managing her business, working with female farmers and public speaking tours, Stegemann is just as busy as ever. One documentary, several successful fragrances, an honorary RCAF colonelship, a best-selling book and numerous entrepreneurial and innovation awards later, Stegemann’s enthusiasm for empowering others remains central.
Stegemann is also returning to her journalistic roots, using her platform to promote the stories of female innovators and entrepreneurs.
“I’m lucky to be able to give them a platform and promote their projects and businesses.”
“I want other women to go for it, take risks, learn from great women and men in our community and then apply all the passion and commitment to your vision and take action,” she says.
Stegemann came to King’s as a single mother in the one-year Bachelor of Journalism Program. She was supported and nurtured by several members of the King’s community, such as Kim Kierans, Dr. Colin Starnes, Stephen Kimber and Edward Mowbray.
“Everything always returns to King’s for me… the philosophy, the training in journalism, the connections,” she says. “They are all in my life still to this day and I feel so blessed,” she says. “The characters at King’s are worth writing books about! And most of all, they are worth experiencing.”
Updated: Aug. 2020