The gift that keeps on givingPublished on December 30, 2015

Photo by: Mark Holleron

Last Christmas, Reanna Bayne woke up to a gift under the tree that would change her life: “I got a make-it-yourself lip balm kit from Santa,” the nine-year-old Barrhaven girl explains. “I really liked it, so I decided to start my own business.”

With that, her company Da Balm was born!

This kind of initiative in a young girl is enough to make her stand out from the crowd, but what really sets Reanna apart was the choice she made next: to donate all proceeds from her business to local charities. Her decision to do so was inspired in part by time spent in India a few years ago, where she was exposed to the sights and sounds of grinding poverty. “It made me feel very sad,” Reanna recalls.

Reanna set out to help kids in particular, and thus far several Ottawa-area charities have benefited from her generosity, including CHEO and the anti-bullying campaign Proud to be Me.

Da Balm products are a labour of love, and involve Reanna’s whole family. This includes dad Gary Bayne, who takes her out to buy products and helps heat them on the stove, and mom Darpan Ahluwalia who sells the products through her company, Manotick Natural Market. “She comes every day to check her inventory,” Darpan says with a laugh.

Reanna’s brothers Luke and Ayden are an important part of the business too.

“She makes her brothers put on labels,” Darpan cheerfully explains. “And if they do it crooked, she gets quite upset.”

The lip balms are all-natural, made in a nut-free facility and come in flavours like bubble gum, peppermint, vanilla, cherry and tropical. Reanna works evenings and weekends, but she enjoys the effort and exclaims, “I like pouring it into the tubes.”

She has also recently decided to expand the Da Balm product line to include body balms and butters, and now she’s helping animals with a new offering called Da Paw Balm. Reanna admits the decision to create that product was not entirely altruistic. “I really love animals and I still want my own dog. I made the balm because I thought it would influence my mom to get a dog.”

Reanna plans to keep offering her products for sale to benefit local organizations, and maybe this year Santa will drop off another gift that requires almost as much effort – something with four paws that Reanna can keep nice and smooth.

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Catherine Clark

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