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f&b — canada

Soft spot


When sisters Andrea Grand and Katie Fielding surveyed Canada’s fizzy-drinks sector in early 2020, they spotted a gap in the market for a higher-quality alternative to the same old household names. “The drinks sector in this country was very different back then,” says Grand. “If you didn’t drink alcohol, your only options were a can of pop or a glass of soda, so you would feel as though you were sitting at the kids’ table. We wanted to put alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on a more level playing field.”

So in 2021, following careers in marketing in Toronto’s fashion and lifestyle sectors, the pair launched Barbet, a colourful range of naturally flavoured sparkling drinks, all made and canned in the city. “We might have been a little naive to what the beverage industry had in store for us but we were super lucky,” says Grand. “A lot of people were very generous with their time. So we just started asking questions.”

Initially working with a mixologist friend who specialises in cocktails, the sisters crafted three drinks that were tinted and flavoured with ingredients such as grapefruit, juniper, calamansi lime, jalapeno, cucumber, lavender and pineapple. Once released, the drinks quickly found a thirsty audience. “The ingredients have kept people coming back,” says Grand – as have Barbet’s brightly striped cans, which were created in Toronto by Design of Brand.

Attempting to make a dent in a canned-drinks sector dominated by large, multi­national manufacturers was a sobering prospect. “I have always been a problem solver and that lends itself really well to entrepreneurship,” says Grand. The team decided to emphasise a key aspect of the brand in deciding where to debut Barbet’s drinks: its small size.

“If you launch your products in a big grocery shop, there’s a perception that you are a big operation,” says Grand. Instead, Barbet approached some of Toronto’s smaller boutique food shops and delicatessens, as well as a selection of the city’s well-regarded independent bars and restaurants.

“We wanted to preserve the more direct, one-on-one connections that we had made with bottle shops, cafés and corner shops,” says Grand. “We knew that, if we could win over 100 people in that way, having them tell a friend about us would have more of an effect than getting our cans on the shelf of a big supermarket.”

The strategy paid off. Demand in Ontario for Barbet’s drinks has doubled every year since launch and expansion into the US is now under way. Grand tells monocle that she expects sales to reach half a million cans by the end of 2023. “We are scaling the business and excited to introduce it to more people,” she says. “The support for small businesses in Toronto is really strong so it’s a great city to get feedback from your customers. That has been the most important part of the journey for us so far.”

The Entrepreneurs

Power suits

Daisy Knatchbull founded The Deck on London’s Savile Row in 2019 to disrupt the male-dominated world of tailoring, becoming the first house on the storied street to have a storefront dedicated to women. Bespoke suits start at about £2,800 (€3,200) and Knatchbull has also developed a ready-to-wear line.

“I was lucky to be exposed to Savile Row at a young age,” says Knatchbull. “At 23, I found myself on this incredible street. I was able to experience having a bespoke suit made for me. It was this feeling I can’t describe: an incredible, empowering strength coming through the suit. I thought, ‘This is something I want every woman to be able to experience.’” 

Knatchbull’s bold vision has led her to wear other hats. “I’ve become a supporter of female entrepreneurship,” she says. “I want to do whatever I can to better that. The stats are against us: only 2 per cent of venture-capital funding goes to female- founder businesses. There’s progress to be made.”

To hear Knatchbull’s story, listen to episode 622 of Monocle’s podcast, ‘The Entrepreneurs’.

aviation — canada

High water


This year’s record-breaking summer wildfires in countries including Canada, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Tunisia and Algeria have renewed focus on a storied, Canadian-made method of putting them out. Nicknamed “Super Scoopers” in the US, where they are among the firefighting craft of national and state forest services, Canadair’s red-and-yellow amphibious water-bombing plane can take on more than 6,000 litres before ascending to douse wildfires from the sky.

Originally launched in 1969, the planes ceased production in 2015 as a result of dwindling demand. However, moves to restart manufacturing began in 2019 when Indonesia’s defence ministry made a one-off order for six new cl-515s and a cl-415eaf, which will be delivered next year. And interest in the aircraft, which are manufactured at De Havilland Canada’s facility in Calgary, has been ticking up. France bought 16 new Canadair planes at the Farnborough International Air Show in 2022 to reinforce its existing fleet and the European Commission ordered an extra 12 last July to be stationed across the EU, including in Portugal, Croatia, Italy and Spain. Both deliveries are due by 2027. Expect demand from other territories before then as the return of the aerial firefighting classic takes off. 

economics — stockholm

Happy campus

Jonna Dagliden Hunt on the world’s first professor of happiness and how the academic department he has set up could lead to us ditching GDP and measuring glee.


In 2008, at the fresh-faced age of 34, Micael Dahlen became Sweden’s youngest economics professor. Now he has a new accolade: he is the world’s first recipient of a professorship dedicated to happiness, wellbeing and welfare. As part of this role, he will head up a new centre dedicated to the topic at the Stockholm School of Economics (sse). But Dahlen is no smiley newcomer to the subject: 10 years ago, he introduced happiness studies to his students and is the author of several books that offer a scientific approach to its research. In fact, his entire body signifies his mission and breaks with the stereotypical view of a professor. His tattooed arms work as Post-it notes for things that make him happier. The number 70, for example, reminds Dahlen not to give 100 per cent all the time, to avoid burnout. A roadworks sign reminds him to learn new things, not least as a professor. “Finally, I’m able to work with happiness full-time and build both the research and teaching around it as much as possible,” he says. “My goal is to make society happier.”

Last year, Dahlen’s programme, Happiness and Wellbeing: Making a Better Life, became the most popular optional course in the school’s history. It is currently struggling to meet demand. Students are keen to find out how they can lead happier lives and eager to be part of what Dahlen calls his “naughty approach”. Some of his challenges to students include making eye contact with strangers, confronting fear, reconciling with a person who they were once close to and asking someone for help. “Hopefully, the course will become mandatory for all students soon,” he says, while showing monocle some of the rooms and environments of the Center for Happiness, Wellbeing and Welfare.

In addition to a large modern art collection placed throughout the building (initiated by the current principal, Lars Strannegård), there are rooms designed to encourage creativity and spaces for more intimate discussions between students and teachers. In one, students can nestle in small huts for a relaxed seminar. In The Light House Room, a small group of students can tell stories around a pretend fireplace. Other happiness fixes are more questionable. On a desk in the middle of one classroom is a microwave to encourage students to eat in class. “All types of impulses and stimuli affect us,” says Dahlen. It is hard to believe that everyone would appreciate a curry or fish stew being consumed while they study but Dahlen is adamant about his microwave mission. “Even when something smells odd or a bit different, it affects our creativity,” he says.

Research at the new centre will look at quality of life, mental and physical wellbeing, social changes, what constitutes a healthy economy and how companies and society contribute to people’s welfare. The goal is to shape policymaking, guide companies in implementing health-promoting measures to enhance productivity and profitability, and, not least, make research findings accessible to the public.

For Dahlen, the search for happiness began as a way to understand people better. He had noticed that money was the dominant focus for many. And, he says, with soaring interest rates, inflation and recession, we are seeing that it hasn’t worked out as a measure of success, let alone happiness. As part of his mission at sse, Dahlen wants to broaden the understanding that economics should be about so much more than wealth.“As an institution, we are a crucial social actor, a welfare agent,” he says. “And with that, we have the great responsibility to educate students who will go into positions where they can truly make an impact – whether it is in the public sector, politically, in civil society or in business. It’s about providing them with as many tools and as much intellectual space as possible.”

“We have the great responsibility to educate students who will go into positions where they can truly make an impact”

According to Dahlen, welfare is the beating heart of economics. Despite Sweden being named the sixth happiest nation in the World Happiness Report, it is also home to some of the most stressed and worried people. To try to improve things, he is establishing a grand “happiness experiment”. “Can we make all of Sweden a little happier and healthier if we help each other?” he asks. “A first step is to actually have it as a concrete goal and begin measuring happiness in the same way as we do with gdp and other metrics.”

As for the future, Dahlen is an optimist. Despite the world seeming more insecure and unhappier than ever, he believes that we have a bright future ahead. “I’m an optimist for two reasons,” he says. “First, the future hasn’t happened yet, which means that anything is possible.” And second? “We still have so much to discover – and I’m sure that there are lots of fantastic opportunities ahead.”

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