Sara Panton, 27
Co-founder and CEO, Vitruvi
Life Story: When Sara Panton was growing up beachside in the farming community of Metchosin, near Victoria, a business career wasn’t her first choice. Interested in medicine, she earned a bachelor of health science from SFU. Her enthusiasm for health and wellness translated into a curiosity about the sense of smell. In 2013, with her brother, Sean, she launched a blog and began tinkering with combinations of essential oils. “We started gaining traction online,” Panton recalls. “We didn’t have a product line, but we had a solid concept.”
The siblings are now proprietors of Vancouver-based Vitruvi, which she describes as the “first direct-to-consumer essential-oil business.” The son and daughter of a policeman and a schoolteacher have succeeded thanks to their closeness, Panton says. “We can have very frank conversations and make decisions quick,” she explains. “There’s zero politics, and at the end of the day, we know we have each other’s backs.”
The Bottom Line: Vitruvi sells its cleverly designed products in 300 stores in Canada, the U.S. and Australia, including retailers like Holt Renfrew and Urban Outfitters, but most of its business is online. The profitable 10-employee company is partly funded by local investors such as Charles Chang, founder of plant-based nutrition specialist Vega.