Tanya Gervais - Just Sun

Tanya Gervais - Just Sun

portia-ella wouldn't exist without the visionaries behind our partner brands. These are women who saw something missing in the Canadian market and then found the courage and ambition to make it available. Or perhaps they had a dream to create something to call their own and change the course of life for themselves and their families. We are eager to champion them as individuals - powerful and full of passion. We are proud to offer their creations here at portia-ella; the largest selection of clean-beauty products in Canada.  

Today we get to know Tanya Gervais of Just Sun. As a mom in the wellness industry, we are inspired by her tenacity to launch a registered health product (SPF) here in Canada. It's not an easy feat - but she's accomplished this goal and created a fantastic range of products to share with us.  

about you 

Describe a “day in your life”.  I share my time between Just Sun Brand and also I am a Registered Massage Therapist & Osteopath, plus I am a mum of 2 boys. So depending on my work day that day, I might be at the computer working on building the brand, or I may be at my clinic with clients.  

Do you have any tips to maintain balance in your day-to-day? Any life hacks you would like to share?  My day always starts out with a walk in nature with my dog. I love to connect and ground myself before starting the day, and I like to write out my 'intensions' as well as a 'want' list for my day/life. I think about my goals and feel what it's like to achieve the goal that I've striving for. This gets me excited and energized to be my best productive self. 

I'm also learning how to be most efficient with looking at the 20/80 rule. 20% of what we do brings 80% of the most productive results. so if I can locate which of the tasks I'm doing factor in to that 20% and trim off the 80% time wasters, my day/tasks becomes more efficient and I am way more productive! 

What brings you joy – besides the brand you built?  Being in nature, walks with my dog and connecting with my kids. I still read to my 11 year old at night and it's one of my favourite things in the world.  

What occupies your free time? Or if you don’t have much free time, what do you imagine you would fill it with someday? Sports and being outdoors. I used to play tennis and am just starting to play again, it's really fun being back on the court. We're also learning to golf as a family which brings us a lot of joy. I also love snuggling up and watching movies as a family. And we love to camp! In the summer a couple of our favourite places to stay are Hornby Island BC and Echo Lake Lumby. Both are magical places for our family ❤️ 

about business 

How long have you been an indie-beauty brand owner?  I have been an indy brand owner for almost 3 years.  

What was the inspiration to start your brand?  It was the death of my father to Melanoma that lead me to take protecting my skin seriously. I learned the importance of year round protection and wanted a healthier option that performed well. When I couldn't find that in the store, I started making my own. We now have 4 Health Canada approved licenses.  

What is your involvement in the creation of your products? I am the main creator behind the products. I am first of all a consumer myself and so I look to create the feel, texture, and performance that I would desire myself. I work closely with my chemist who makes sure our products are safe, effective and we lean on his 20 years experience to create us beautiful green suncare products. 

Did everything go as planned as you began to build your business? This is my first time navigating the manufacturing and selling of a product. There have been many many challenges and countless times I was ready to throw the towel in! First of all, it's a massive achievement to get a pass on the SPF licensing and to go through all the testing that is required to get the certification. We tried for a year at least before we got a positive result, but I hung on, as I knew, if others are making this happen, I can too. The answer will come. And, eventually it did. There have been many obstacles and learning opportunities in this for me, and it has only made me stronger and more resilient for moving forward. I've learnt a ton along the way!  

Amid all the challenges of owning your own business, what motivates you to continue chasing your dream?  I know we are doing great work which feels like contribution, and we come from the heart in what we deliver by means of providing beautiful products that are effective,  practices that are considerate to our environment and the excitement and pride from around building something from the ground up. I love being creative which comes with the product creation, but I also really love meeting and connecting with the customers who I meet when I work at markets, as well as the retailers. I love contributing and being apart of our community.  

Do you have a “best moment” in your journey that you will never forget?  I think for me it was last year. We had some troubles with a manufacturing company who messed up our production but didn't take any financial responsibility and I was left to figure out a way to sink or swim. I was able to take a terrible situation and turn it into something that has steered our ship in a new direction, a new direction that has lead to finding a new niche and partners who really align with my own values and desires. We started a refill program with the bulk product that came out of our manufacturing error. It has provided a path which gives us a way to offer sunscreen in bulk so old containers can be filled or refilled, which cuts down on waste and more containers in the landfill or recycling.  

Do you have any regrets along your journey? Something you would do differently if you could? I'm very solution driven, and therefore don't put a lot of focus on regrets. I'm always asking how I can draw on my resources to make our systems work more efficiently, that's how I take my past experiences to propel me forward. I take the messages and teachings along the way and implement them into moving forward.  

Below: Tanya with Nada - her supportive business bestie. 

A portrait of Tanya's most recent hire - her baby sister Ashley, who has proven to be a legend at packing orders and other helpful day-to-day business related tasks. 

about clean beauty 

What does clean beauty mean to you?  Clean beauty is about using ingredients that are clean, ethically sustainably sourced, and aren't harmful to us, the environment or any animals.  

Are there certain ingredients (used in the industry) that you can’t believe are still permitted for use in cosmetics?  I'm always surprised to see ingredients used that could harm us in products, but then again, I'm also just as surprised when I see people still eat MacDonalds, hahaha. I believe in advocating for ones self, and making decisions that feel good for me and my family, and then educate as much as I can.  

Is there a star ingredient your product range?  Sea Buckthorn Fruit Oil. We add this ingredient to all of our products. It's a potent anti-oxidant. We believe in nourishing as well as protecting our skin! We also use Cassia Leaf Extract in our Tinted Moisturizer, which has amazing properties: It gets into the nucleus and mitochondria of our skin cells for added UVA & UVB protection, as well as it's clinically proven to turn over the skin regenitively in 6 days - repairing previously damaged skin from sun damage! We also use shea butter in our formulas which is helpful for protecting the skin barrier.  

What is your favourite product from your brand? My favourite product is the Daily Defence Tinted Moisturizer. I love a dual product and this one is light-weight and offers so many skin textures and tones a great option for daily protection! Also, soon to be released in 2 other shades plus one without a tint so those who don't prefer a tint have an option. I'm also in love with our unscented body sunscreen that we released as a refillable sunscreen this year. It is such a dream to spread on and feels so nice on the skin. Blends in beautifully and doesn't leave any white cast. Great for sensitive skin and babies! 

Share your favourite clean beauty product you use regularly from another brand. Yes, I love Corpa Flora's Oil Cleanser. I use it everyday!