Small Town Success: How Revelstoke-based Ovry is offering better reproductive-care essentials

Ovry started small but its products can now be found on the shelves of London Drugs and Shoppers Drug Mart

Starting a nationwide success story in a 7,500-person mountain town was never going to be a walk in the park. But they prefer steep hikes in Revelstoke anyway.

Ovry, which is run by co-founders Jackie Rhind and Christina Witzel, provides pregnancy tests that cost a quarter of the price of the big brand names and use 90-percent less single-use packaging. Priding itself on convenience and accessibility, Ovry has developed further products since its 2020 launch, including ovulation tests and male fertility tests.

Just one year after the launch of the company, BCBusiness interviewed Ovry CEO Rhind. Recently, we sat down with her again to hear about Ovry’s subsequent success—which has been considerable: In 2020, the company made $330,000 in sales. The next year, it doubled that. The year after, it doubled once more, raking in some $1.4 million in 2022. Plus, the business won the 2023 Small Business BC Best Youth Entrepreneur award and pitched on Dragons’ Den this spring.

At first, Rhind says, starting the company in Revelstoke was difficult; the back and forth to Vancouver for meetings with potential manufacturers, lawyers and consultants was tiring. Now that the business is more established, Rhind feels that running it from the small town is “an absolute dream come true.” According to her, the Revelstoke community has been deeply supportive. “I feel so lucky to live in an incredible place and be able to do fulfilling work,” she says.

Rhind and director of marketing Witzel had to be “scrappy” with their resources in the beginning; the pair started by packing all of the product boxes themselves on the floor of Witzel’s apartment. Now Ovry has a team of five and its female-market products are sold in 1,500 stores, including London Drugs, Rexall and more, while their male-market product is available in all 1,200 Shoppers Drug Mart locations nationwide.

Rhind says they got the Ovry products into stores incrementally. “I think what helped us was that we were building momentum online, and we could show stores that we had growing and repeat sales, as well as positive reviews,” she explains.

The first pharmacy that agreed to carry Ovry products was Epic Pharmacy in Tofino. “We were so excited,” Rhind shares. “It was so cool that they were willing to take that first chance on us.”

She notes that the hardest challenge was securing the first large retailer—but after they had that foundation, the others were easier to win over. “Once we were in London Drugs, we were able to tell the buyers we’d been emailing for several months. The momentum picked up from there,” she says.

The company’s goals go beyond doubling sales year after year. “From the beginning, we wanted there to be a social element built into the fabric of the business,” says Rhind.

To improve accessibility and reduce waste, the team donates tests to women’s shelters, health clinics and rape relief programs. “We also have a ‘give a strip’ program, so if you buy a pack of 40 ovulation tests when you’re trying to conceive and then get pregnant when you still have some left, we pay the shipping when you send them back to us. Then, we donate the rest of the tests,” she explains.

The company also gives a portion of every Ovry sale to charities such as Earthjustice, Girls Who Code, Canadian Women’s Foundation and Canadian Anti-Racism Network, to name a few. Plus, Rhind has a “big, hairy, audacious long-term vision,” which is to one day turn the business into a reproductive-health cooperative that offers a range of affordable products, from a person’s first period until their last day of perimenopause.

“It would be a cooperative structure, so that if you’re a consumer, you’re also an owner in the business,” she adds.

When Rhind takes breaks from running the business this winter, you can find her skiing the slopes of Revelstoke Mountain Resort—a privilege that living in the small town offers its residents. “People ask me how I built a business from Revelstoke, and I tell them that I couldn’t do it anywhere else,” says Rhind, who served a term on Revelstoke’s city council.

“I’m able to build it because of the support, community and environment around me.  If you’re really passionate about what you’re building, it doesn’t matter where you’re building  it from. If you live in a place that you love, it allows you to show up and do your best work.”