Nearly everyone who walks into Fiore Botanica remarks on the same thing: the mesmerizing smell. “The first thing they do when they walk into the store is say ‘Oh my God, this smells amazing,’” says Kathleen Quinlan, a certified aromatherapist who runs the natural skincare and homecare company with her business partner, Phaedra Charlton-Huskins, in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
But while lingering over the royal blue bottles of handmade creams and potions that adorn the shelves of their well-kept shop, many visitors also start tuning in to what they’re hearing, Quinlan says.
“For the shopping experience of our clients, music is extremely important”, she explains. “Everyone comments on it. It’s rare that someone doesn’t say ‘I loved the music. I loved shopping here.’”
That’s why Fiore Botanica boasts a Licensed to Play (L2P) sticker in their front window, letting patrons and passersby alike know that they are among the more than 30,000 stores, bars and restaurants across the country who support Canadian music creators.
“For the shopping experience of our clients, music is extremely important.”
“It’s something that’s really important for us,” says Quinlan. “And when other retailers have asked me what it is, I proudly explain it to them. Some have said ‘Well, is it really that important?” I break it down for them with, ‘Well, is it important for you to get paid when someone buys something in your store?’”
While Quinlan, who makes all of Fiore Botanica’s merchandise herself on the premises, started creating her products in 1997 after receiving her accreditation as an aromatherapist, it took her until 2009 before she began selling them publicly – and even then it was online (Quinlan was then based in Montréal), rather than in a bricks-and-mortar shop.
“I know the process I had to go through for many years to figure out how to make a product,” says Quinlan. “I know all the hours it took.”
That’s why she is so passionate about supporting music creators, who she sees as exercising their own creativity. “I think of the process that someone goes through when they are creating music or writing a lyric,” Quinlan explains. “I appreciate and need to be paid for what I create, and I think it’s very important that if we’re using music, that we pay for it.”
Quinlan credits her own upbringing, as well as her musical relatives – the members of The Good Brothers are her cousins, as are Dallas and Travis Good of The Sadies –for her love of music and her support for musicians. She grew up in Douro, a small Ontario village not far from Peterborough, where nearly everyone played an instrument. Quinlan herself played fiddle in a family band, along with her siblings. “In our family there were always lots of instruments around,” she recalls. “And if you didn’t have them, you borrowed from your neighbour.”
It’s one of the reasons she’s taken such a liking to Lunenburg, a town with a healthy artistic and musical community. In a turquoise-fronted shop on the main drag, Quinlan and Charlton-Huskins opened for business in 2015, after a two-year stint in Liverpool, on Nova Scotia’s south shore.
And things are busy at Fiore Botanica: as well as recently scoring some hotel amenity contracts, Quinlan is proud of the fact that her products were included in gift bags given to the stars at the 2016 Golden Globe awards (where they also graced the celebrity gift lounge), and at the MTV Movie Awards. The company’s line of baby products was also recently gifted to 21 celebrity mothers, including Alanis Morissette, in Los Angeles. “That was very exciting!” she laughs.
As well as proudly displaying their Licensed to Play sticker, both Quinlan and Charlton-Huskins are doing what they can to support SOCAN members in other ways, too. Fiore Botanica provided products for those artists participating in the second annual Kenekt Song Camp, held at Nova Scotia’s Shobac Cottages in May of 2016. “We were proud to do that,” Quinlan says. “We would continue to do anything like that, that would support the creation of music.”
After all, for Quinlan music is a critical part of her life, and has been vital to Fiore Botanica’s success with customers. “We’re never in the store without the music on,” she says simply. “It’s an intrinsic part of everyone’s experience in our store.”
That’s why she’s so passionate that other business owners also secure their SOCAN licenses. “I hope every retailer who turns on a radio has one,” she says, “because if you’re using music to enhance your business, you should have your SOCAN License to Play sticker.”