Deeply rooted in Quebec
La Feuille Verte now markets more than one hundred products made from Quebec hemp. These are available at nearly 1,000 retailers as well as on our various digital platforms.
La Feuille Verte was born in 2004 thanks to Manon Letarte, a qualified herbalist and cosmetologist, who was manufacturing her own body care products at the time. Passionate about the benefits of nature, it was love at first sight with what she still considers today to be the best vegetable oil: hemp oil.
Because of the exceptional properties of hemp, Manon developed various formulas from its substance. These prototypes enabled her to market the first products of La Feuille Verte. At the time, hemp was still unknown and often wrongly associated with recreational cannabis. That said, the effectiveness of the body products designed by Manon was enough to charm many skeptics. Her micro-business did not fail to attract attention in exhibitions and events related to well-being.
In 2016, Manon decided to devote herself to other projects related to herbalism. She handed over the reins of her business to Caroline Moreau, another entrepreneur with a passion for natural products.
THE NEW GENERATION IS TAKING OVER
While Caroline was busy introducing Quebecers to hemp, other local entrepreneurs were working in the Canadian medical cannabis industry. This was the case of Dany Lefebvre and his partner, Marie-Ève Parenteau.
In the past, Dany was a consultant and project manager for Pharmacan (now Cronos Groupe (ON)), Abcann (ON), In the Zone (BC), and Tweed (ON), all cannabis producers licensed by Health Canada. Dany has spent the last 20 years developing his entrepreneurial skills, network, knowledge, and business strategies. In 2013, with Marie-Ève, they moved to Saint-Lucien and founded the company Vert Médical (Vert Cannabis).
In 2015, they obtained a license from Health Canada to grow and process hemp. With the support of a federal program, they made history by introducing hemp into pet food. And then, in 2017 in a stroke of genius, they finally sold their business to Canopy Growth Corp, the world’s largest medical cannabis company.
A few months later, inspired by their past experience, they acquired La Feuille Verte from Caroline Moreau. Now owners of a reputable name in the field of natural products, the two partners are thinking big. Their ambition is to become the most important player in Quebec’s hemp industry.
THE BIRTH OF A JEWEL OF QUEBEC INDUSTRY
In order to realize their ambitious vision, Dany and Marie-Ève surrounded themselves with a trusted coterie. Thus, Mathieu Crête, David Gauthier, and Danny Labossière joined the team on its first day of operations in November 2017. Although small in size, this new administration was both multidisciplinary and close-knit. The members of this quintet were all former co-workers. They also have a board of directors chaired by Claude Lafleur, an experienced mentor capable of guiding them in this new adventure. To commemorate this new beginning, the new head office of La Feuille Verte was to be set up in a former pub on Lindsay Street in downtown Drummondville.
At the time, La Feuille Verte’s premises were quite modest. The renovations were not yet complete and the small team already had a lot of work to do. Danny Labossière’s mission was to set up a warehouse in the cramped and dusty basement of the location. At the same time, Mathieu Crete was in charge of designing a digital ecosystem capable of hosting our future web platforms. For his part, David Gauthier was working hard on our ambitious business model. As for Marie-Ève, she was in charge of keeping our accounting books. Dany was not to be outdone, as he had to ensure proper business development in order to grow La Feuille Verte.
A golden opportunity presented itself in November 2017. The team at La Feuille Verte acquired the Crocx brand, an animal products company founded by Mélissa Daigle in 2011 in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. At the time, Crocx products were well known to pet owners in the region because of the edible hemp oil used in the brand’s treats. This unique ingredient gave Crocx products exceptional nutritional value. Thanks to this judicious acquisition, La Feuille Verte now had two labels to market THC-free cannabis.
After three weeks of hard work, the redesign of the Chanv brand was completed. These body care products were ready to be marketed; same as with the Crocx brand animal products. In addition, our websites were now functional. The new team at La Feuille Verte was ready to process the company’s first transactions just in time for Christmas. To our great joy, our hemp-based products were so popular during the 2017 holiday season that it became apparent that our small warehouse was no longer sufficient. Soon it was time to move.
PUSHED TOWARDS NEW HEIGHTS
Due to La Feuille Verte’s rapid growth, it was clear that our head office had to be relocated. Earlier that year, Dany heard about an old abandoned slaughterhouse in Saint-Cyrille-de-Wendover, near Drummondville. It was love at first glance. The 65,000-square-foot complex was located on 220 acres of land. It was more than enough to establish our new offices and a warehouse that would match our ambitions. Negotiations began with the municipality to acquire the site. The last step was to convince the elected village officials of the merits of our project. Since many people still associate hemp with recreational cannabis, the process was going to require patience and a good dose of tact.
Thus, in January 2018, the small team of La Feuille Verte was still based at its premises in downtown Drummondville. Among the many nearby businesses was the tea room of Nancy Belval, a sommelier renowned throughout Quebec. She already offered her customers more than a hundred different varieties of tea, in addition to various flavours of Kombucha. After several visits to Nancy Belval’s store, Dany sensed that these beverages had unsuspected potential. An offer was then made to the Drummondville sommelier, who agreed to sell her business and put her services to the benefit of La Feuille Verte.
A CONSOLIDATION PERIOD
During the winter of 2018, a brand new type of hemp oil-based kombucha was under development in the Montreal laboratories. While the formula was being refined to suit our needs, a café-counter was set up on the first floor of our head office. It was to be named the Maison d’Herbes. For Dany and his associates, the goal was to make this business the Mecca for hemp in Quebec. At this stage, the team at La Feuille Verte was carrying out several projects simultaneously in order to achieve the objectives of its business plan. The establishment of a first bricks and mortar store was on the verge of becoming a reality.
Although very versatile, La Feuille Verte’s original quintet had to surround itself with experienced collaborators, Rudy Laxai being one of them. Mr. Laxai is an entrepreneur from the Charlevoix region specializing in organic farming. He is the one who provides our company with the hemp seeds necessary for the production of our products. In January 2018, during a meeting with Dany Lefebvre, he advised Dany to contact Claude Lafleur, a very well-known name in the Quebec business community. Notably, he held the position of CEO of the Coop Fédérée in addition to being a coach at the Beauce School of Entrepreneurship. Thanks to this valuable reference from Rudy, a first meeting was organized with Mr. Lafleur.
After a detailed presentation of our business plan and how far we’d come since the acquisition of La Feuille Verte, Mr. Lafleur agreed to support us in our future endeavours. Because of our ambitious goals, his help rapidly became indispensable. He thus took his place on our Board of Directors as President. His experience quickly proved itself. In addition to multiplying our agendas, Claude helped us gain credibility in the eyes of our partners and the public. His presence alongside Dany during important negotiations, particularly regarding our new head office, would prove essential.
INTRODUCING LA FEUILLE VERTE TO THE PUBLIC
In order to give La Feuille Verte increased visibility, our growing team participated in its first shows and exhibitions. The natural objective was to promote our Chanv and Crocx products, but also to demystify THC-free cannabis to the population. Our contagious passion for hemp was obvious and, as in the time of Manon Letarte, our products did not fail to charm the visitors. Under the enlightened guidance of Claude Lafleur, we decided to take advantage of hemp’s growing popularity with the public. After all, the entire country was about to legalize the recreational version of this plant. Accordingly, when you want to make a name for yourself in Quebec’s entrepreneurial community, the best thing to do is to appear on the TV show Dans l’œil du dragon!
To our great pleasure, our application was accepted. After intensive preparation with his mentor, Dany made his case to the program’s famous investors. Unfortunately, despite a detailed presentation of our company and a great deal of interest from the ”Dragons”, the program decided not to air our segment. Although this was a disappointment for all of us, it was only a postponement. The preparation process begun with Claude Lafleur was going to serve Dany well in the business development of our young company.
A PLACE THAT MAKES PEOPLE TALK
La Maison d’Herbes opened its doors to the public on April 20, 2018, on International Cannabis Day. The arrival of our business in the neighborhood caused a lot of chatter because of our evident ties to this burgeoning industry. That said, our menu quickly enchanted the taste buds of our first customers. Maison d’Herbes then offered meals as well as hemp-based beverages, including teas concocted by Nancy Belval. In total, more than one hundred products derived from cannabis without THC were offered to our visitors. Even better, after months of preparation, our hemp-based kombucha was now available. This special product named “Kombuchanv” was an exceptional success as soon as it hit the market shelves.
Soon, our business established an enviable reputation throughout the region. This new departure coincided with the launch of the Maison d’Herbes web platform, a website whose aim was to distribute the products of our various brands: Chanv, Crocx, Kombuchanv, etc. Strengthened by these new digital platforms, La Feuille Verte was now in a position to make itself known throughout the province. We took the opportunity to add two more strings to our bow. First, Chempion, a brand designed for sportsmen and women who want to improve their performance with hemp. Second, De La Ferme, a brand that in the near future would be called upon to distribute local products based on cannabidiol (CBD).
In the spring of 2018, the demand for our products increased exponentially. Fortunately for us, our new production complex was now available. Our production capacity was about to explode!
THE BIG MOVE
After lengthy negotiations, the 65,000 square-foot complex in Saint-Cyrille-de-Wendover officially passed into the hands of La Feuille Verte in early summer 2018. Renovations began immediately in order to create a new head office and a new warehouse worthy of the name. From now on, our growing team would work exclusively from this massive building.
Our arrival in the community generated a lot of interest from the local media. In order to satisfy the curiosity of the local media and our new neighbours, an open house was organized in September. Our visitors had the opportunity to taste our famous Kombuchanv in addition to discovering our first plants of cannabis without THC cultivated on our terrace. The members of our team explained the main uses of this plant and unveiled some of our projects that could contribute to the local economy.
La Feuille Verte was now collaborating with well-known industry names in Quebec, including Familiprix, Brunet, Mondou, Uniprix, and Proxim. In order to supply these new partners with hemp, the priority was to set up the necessary equipment to manufacture our products in sufficient quantities. Our new head office was quickly transformed into a real production facility. In addition to allowing us to drastically increase our production volume, we could now ensure the quality of our products on a daily basis. Setting up these production lines would require more than a year of intensive work.
IMPLEMENTATION OF A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
In order to start the year 2019 off on the right foot, La Feuille Verte’s team was determined to take advantage of the increased capacities of its new production complex. Thus, the hemp processing rooms were completed in the winter and our first industrial hemp harvest was planned for the summer. The objective was simple: to determine the best hemp phenotypes to produce resinous flower heads filled with cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD). In order to achieve this, our agricultural experts prepared a first crop of 3,000 female plants.
To complement this program, a research and development partnership was signed with the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. This fruitful association allowed us to better define the properties of our plants in addition to contributing to scientific research related to cannabis.
REAPING THE BENEFITS OF OUR LABOUR
The many efforts made since our acquisition of La Feuille Verte were finally recognized. First, our company shone in the Quebec entrepreneurial community. Then, at the prestigious E35 gala, our team won an award in the “Industry 2 to 50 Employees” category and was distinguished as “Entrepreneur of the Year”. During the ELAN entrepreneurial contest, La Feuille Verte also received a good dose of love and was awarded the “Fan Favourite” prize.
These awards and the growing success of our products motivated our team to try their luck again on the TV show Dans l’œil du dragon. For the second time, our application was accepted. Dany’s perseverance was finally rewarded. After short negotiations, he and Marie-Ève manage to seal a partnership with the Dragon Marie-Josée Richer. Marie-Josée Richer is an expert in the marketing of natural products. From the first weeks of her involvement, our business plan was optimized in order to solidify our flagship status in Quebec’s hemp production. Once the program was broadcast on Radio-Canada in May 2019, our notoriety with the public increased drastically.
During the summer, while our team was busy in the fields harvesting our thousands of cannabis flowerheads, Quebecers contacted us in legions on social networks. They were more and more interested in our brands and wanted to learn more about hemp and its derivatives. In the context of the recent legalization of recreational cannabis, it was more than ever necessary to explain the particularities of this THC-free variety.
NEW CHALLENGES AND NEW HORIZONS
The year 2020 has started very well for La Feuille Verte. Indeed, we have obtained a license from Health Canada in order to conduct trials for the next 5 years. Thanks to this document, we can study terpenes as well as different molecules of cannabis. This exercise will allow us to commercialize Quebec products of superior quality in the coming years. In order to optimize this process, we are already organizing new partnerships with scientific institutions in Quebec.
It was at the end of the winter of 2020 that the global COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Like all other companies, La Feuille Verte was affected. As early as March 2020, exceptional measures were imposed by the Quebec government to stem the spread of the virus. Our team had to restructure itself quickly. As an agri-food company, our services were considered essential. In order to get our hands dirty, our team decided to get involved in the “It’s going to be okay” movement to help workers on the front lines. New products were marketed, including a hand sanitizer and a special can of Kombuchanv. For each unit sold, one dollar is donated to The YMCAs of Québec Foundation. Our contribution aims to support the most vulnerable, especially the homeless.
At the time of this article, more than 100 products are now offered by our different brands. These are available in more than 1,000 points of sale, as well as on our various digital platforms. At our head office in Saint-Cyrille-de-Wendover, our employees operate our production lines daily while respecting the highest standards of hygiene. Every day, we ship about 100 orders to our customers throughout Quebec.
Thanks to a team that is more motivated than ever and to our loyal partners, the growth of La Feuille Verte continues. It’s up to us to write the next chapter of this story.