hile some individuals and companies focus on ways to shrink their environmental footprint, others lean on flashy branding, soothing colour palettes, and a hint of nostalgia to draw in their consumers, Sisters Sage handcrafts wellness and self-care products inspired by Indigenous culture and traditions.
Founded in 2018 by sisters Lynn-Marie and Melissa-Rae Angus, the company aims to create products that help close the socio-economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Their hope is that through their line of soaps, bath bombs, room sprays and salves, they can bring the history of Indigenous appreciation to consumers in their communities and beyond.
Their best-selling Smokeless Smudge Spray is an alternative to the traditional ceremony of burning dried, sacred herbs such as cedar, sage, sweetgrass, and tobacco to purify and cleanse the soul of negative energies. Smudging can also be used to clear negative energy from physical surroundings and spaces, but the purposes and particulars of this ceremony differ between tribes, bands and nations.
In recent years smudging has fallen victim to cultural appropriation, in which mass-produced and sometimes unethically-sourced herbs are advertised to non-Indigenous consumers. Similarly, big-box retailers have sold Palo Santo (“holy wood” in Spanish) alongside “smudge sticks”, rarely acknowledging the cultural significance or important practices of Indigenous peoples. Sisters Sage encourages others to take part in smudging, but invites them to dig deeper and better understand the history behind the sacred art.
A large part of the company’s ethos is to source local ingredients whenever possible, with their most frequently used ones being lavender, sage, sweetgrass, and tobacco.
Cedar is also a common material in their products and an important material for the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Often referred to as “The Tree of Life”, it can be used to make everything from totem poles, clothing, baskets, tools, utensils, and hats to medicine and more. Sisters Sage also uses old growth shavings from the sacred cedar tree to harvest local boughs, making sure to respect and thank the tree for its offerings.
To pay homage to their ancestors, they draw inspiration from traditional Indigenous ceremonies, environments, and language. The brand’s Pow Wow Soap is a clear example of sentiment as it features brightly coloured layers, mimicking the regalia worn by dancers. The same can be said for their Full Moon series soaps, which are guided by the look, feel, and spirit of the full moons that turnover throughout the year. A rainbow-coloured soap represents the Two-Spirit gender type, (a term created in 1990 to celebrate and recognize a third gender type within Indigenous cultures across North America). The Sisters’ note that “it is important to share space and have representation in our products” and encourages others to educate themselves on Two-Spirit history and labeling.
When it comes to Sister’s Sage, consumers can feel confident that they are investing in a company that genuinely cares about the world around them.
“It is important for us to leave as little footprint on Mother Earth as possible.”
Aside from their efforts to use only eco-friendly materials that are vegan, vegetarian, and cruelty-free, Lynn-Marie and Melissa-Rae are also committed to sustainable packaging and practices. They also hope to inspire the next generation of female and youth entrepreneurs, helping pave the way for other Indigenous-owned businesses in Canada.