Nova Scotia

Outpouring of support for small business destroyed in fire feels like 'a giant hug'

The Soap Company of Nova Scotia in Sherbrooke was destroyed by a fire on Monday night.

The Soap Company of Nova Scotia burned to the ground Monday night in Sherbrooke

Leigh McFarlane and her daughter, Anna Muise, make and sell products that are free of gluten, nuts and plastics. (The Soap Company of Nova Scotia Ltd./Facebook)

On Monday night when Leigh McFarlane went to put her laundry in the dryer, she was met with a frightening sight.

McFarlane said she saw "a puff of smoke" come out of the dryer before realizing the washing machine was on fire.

"There was an orange glow in the washer, which was spinning at the time, and I wasn't successful in putting it out, and it just went," she said in an interview Wednesday, two days after her home and business in Sherbrooke, N.S., burned to the ground.

McFarlane's home on the eastern shore was where she made natural soaps, skincare and cleaning products for her business, The Soap Company of Nova Scotia.

McFarlane said everything from the house is gone.

The fire Monday started in a stacked washer and dryer. (The Soap Company of Nova Scotia Ltd./Facebook)

"I have a few things, like a few memorabilia, things in the barn, which fortunately did not burn down," she said. "I'm so grateful for that, but I lost all of my own personal possessions. A lot of really precious, precious, precious family heirlooms.

"The cradle that generations of babies slept in, quilts, those really precious things. And our entire business operation is gone completely."

Luckily, no one was hurt in the fire, and McFarlane said the outpouring of support has kept her going.

"It's like we are all held up in a giant hug. That's what it feels like," she said.

She said the local Lions Club brought her a cheque to make sure she had the basics to go forward and neighbours have stopped by with donations. Some of her employees have also started an online fundraiser. 

Business will go on

McFarlane said the Soap Company of Nova Scotia was preparing for Sherbrooke's Christmas in the Village event, and she had taken a load of products to the venue earlier on Monday before the fire. 

"So we do actually have some things for this weekend, so that's our little bright light right there," she said.

All her other stock is gone, including 31 retail orders that were in their boxes with shipping labels attached, ready to be mailed on Tuesday. 

McFarlane lived and ran her business out of the home. (The Soap Company of Nova Scotia Ltd./Facebook)

McFarlane said she will be staying at her mother's house for the time being while she and the company start to regroup.

"We're working on what it is that we need to do next, we're getting insurance and stuff figured out," she said. 

"I just can't get over the love. Basically, it's just a whole lot of love coming our way, and it's pretty amazing and pretty humbling."

The Soap Company of Nova Scotia destroyed by fire

2 years ago
Duration 5:13
The CBC's Amy Smith spoke with Leigh McFarlane, founder of The Soap Company of Nova Scotia, who lost her business and her home on Monday night.

With files from Amy Smith