A local Mechanical Engineer is showing the world just what Kemptville people are capable of with his company’s new insect based skincare line, Insekt. Thomas Clark is the owner of Altrene, which has been responsible for developing the Insekt line of products. Thomas’ wife Michelle has also been by his side throughout the journey, and the couple have a baby son, Hendrik.
Originally from the city, Thomas and Michelle moved to Kemptville to enjoy a small town lifestyle. A few years ago, Thomas heard of a company taking food waste from grocery stores and farmers and using it to raise black soldier flies, in order to create a product of high-protein, high-fat biomass. These insects are primarily used as feed for poultry and fish, though other uses are possible as well. Thomas quickly became interested in an oil by-product that has a fatty acid profile similar to many plant-based ingredients used in skincare applications.
Last year, Thomas and Michelle began preparing to create their own soldier fly farm, partnered with local coffee shop Brewed Awakenings. Using leftover coffee grinds, fruits, and vegetables from the coffee shop, they had a “proof of concept” farm set up in their garage, but they were unable to secure investors to help expand the idea.
The couple quickly moved on to developing skincare products using the oil by-product, beginning with a hand cream and moving onto a face cream. In true entrepreneurial fashion, these products were first designed and tested right in the couple’s kitchen!
As anyone in business knows, these endeavors take a lot of time and patience. Thomas and Michelle worked hard over an extended period of time to continue developing and perfecting products. Finally, they are beginning to see their hard work pay off as they are expecting the first official production batches of their products to be ready for sale early next month. They are expecting to receive their first shipment of product from the Pickering-based manufacturing facility in the coming days, giving them some time to focus on marketing before online sales open up.
“It’s funny… without any sales I feel like I have put all this effort into this and there is nothing to show for it,” Thomas joked. “But these things take time. Patience and perseverance are important for a business to be successful.”
Thomas is hopeful that his innovations when it comes to insect based skincare will end up changing the industry for the better. Plant based skincare products often require a lot of water, energy, and land to produce, while likewise, insect based products are driven by agricultural waste. The goal is for Altrene to be a trendsetter during the years ahead.