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Parker: Success forces Routine move into larger space at Greenview Industrial Park

Sisters-in-law Pippa and Neige Blair of Routine deodorant for David Parker column Calgary Herald April 8, 2019.Supplied photo

Neige Blair is a creative person who left town for a while to play guitar in a touring band, but came back to Calgary with the idea of starting her own company.

She tried clothing, which didn’t work out too well, and then following her interest in botanicals began creating natural cleaning and personal care products and — not satisfied with anything on the — natural cream deodorants.

They were an instant success with relatives and friends, and sister-in-law Pippa Blair, a former Telcom employee and then labour and delivery nurse, meticulously recorded formulas. After being told the deodorants were “better than any others” and “you have to share them,” the couple made their first sales launch of Routine at the Market Collective in Kensington.

That was encouraging enough for the two to become partners by investing $250 each in a new business venture and full of confidence they trotted samples around to three retail stores. Two said they would try them and thanks to word of mouth they moved from a home basement into the second floor of the Brentwood Sportsplex where they mixed the formulas in a big kettle and hand-piped the selection of four deodorants into glass bottles before sticking on labels.

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That was only seven years ago; today they offer 19 Routine deodorants that can be purchased in every major health food chain across Canada, 100 locations in the U.S., 200 stores in the United Arab Emirates and online.

Pippa says the first big break came in being encouraged to exhibit at the Canadian Health Food Association trade fair in Vancouver. Neige designed the booth and it was awarded first prize for creativity. That caught the attention of major Canadian distributor Purity Life Health Products, a contract was signed and with the need for a huge increase in volume the partners moved into a commercial space in Crowfoot and hired a Calgary manufacturing plant to help with production and packaging.

That allowed for a huge inventory but they were soon caught up in a bit of a cash flow problem. Several offers were made by investors, but they went with the helpful ATB Financial which meant they still had 100 per cent control of their thriving company. Acceptance has been quite remarkable, not only from customers but also by people who are happy to help promote. These include rising Calgary star Reuben Bullock who has been promoting “Reuben and the Dark & Stormy” deodorant on his social media.

Continuing to double their sales of Routine every year, Neige and Pippa have made another big decision and next month move into 8,000 square feet of warehouse space in Greenview Industrial Park. Two adjoining bays will give them much needed office space and lots of storage for their line of deodorants, the other side will be converted into their own manufacturing plant.

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But these two young mothers have even bigger plans.

Next month Routine will launch two new face oils and then it’s on to natural shampoos, conditioners, perfumes and soaps, and they have even registered the name of Routine Wines.

The Blairs are sticklers for natural products and do all they can to support local suppliers. Beeswax is purchased from a beekeeper in Innisfail and their interest in the health of bees led them into donating to Eliese Watson’s ABC Bees program to educate children about bees.

Neige and Pippa are having fun, creating jobs and helping our economy, and they have just earned a big help in their growth by being awarded a $100,000 no-interest loan from sheEO, an international organization that supports, finances and celebrates women innovators. Routine is one of only eight Canadians companies selected. It’s great to see so many graduates of SAIT culinary school doing well in this city. Thipphakune Xaykasem graduated in 2004 and worked his way up through some prestigious spots, including the Banffshire Club in the Fairmont Banff Springs, Catch and Notable, before his last position as executive chef for the Concorde Group.

Now he is organizing the everyday Italian cuisine menus for the opening of Allora at Aspen Glen Landing in the former home of Redwater Rustic Grille, that will include a glass-enclosed pasta station.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at

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