July 1, 2020
By Janice Biehn
Michelle Reichert dreamed of owning her own business since she was 16 years old. A member of the Peepeekisis Cree Nation in southern Saskatchewan, now living in Victoria, B.C, she went through many ideas and gained valuable experience along her journey. Her health and that of her family and community drew her to finding ways to help improve their health and wellbeing. Her own experience with the power of natural medicines and wanting to help others led her to start her own business. With the assistance of NEDC and the support of PWRDF, she realized her dream and has grown considerably from the experience.
At 18, Michelle suffered with health issues. She was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and doctors told her that “would likely develop into Crohn’s disease.” She tried many medications but her health continued to deteriorate. After exploring alternative and integrative therapies, she discovered how to treat her illness and avoid the other diseases. Because her family is plagued with autoimmune diseases, she took it upon herself to learn more to help them and her community. Upon completing a five-year Dual Diploma program of Phytotherapy and Holistic Nutrition at Pacific Rim College (in just 3 ½ years), she set out to build a business that focusses on helping people reach their health goals.
She started with a small loan from the Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) that helped her launch Apotheka Herbal, however she soon found she needed more financing for her business to succeed. She needed to grow to be better equipped to draw in and service customers. With support from the PWRDF Loan Fund she was able to leverage other funding programs available at the NEDC to expand in 2019.
Michelle is very excited to provide opportunities to others. She currently employs one full-time and one part-time employee and a marketing intern. One of her employees just graduated from the same program she did. She loves that she can provide employment and experience to others to help their career growth. She also loves that she can provide a safe space for her clients to help them reach their health goals. Looking into the future, she looks forward to working in a business that she is proud of and to sharing that with her growing family.
Michelle is very passionate and proud about what she does. She says owning her own business has helped her confidence and business development skills. Michelle emphasizes she would not be where they are without the assistance of the funding and support she received. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity.
– with files from NEDC