Ever since trying my first Province Apothecary product several years ago I have been an impressed and devoted user. The products are thoughtfully crafted and Julie Clark, the founder, has a special knack for creating essential oil blends that have a gentle touch—harmonious and calming, not at all overly earthy or strong. After trying my hand at this personally I know that this is quite an art. We couldn't be more impressed by Province Apothecary's mission to use only organic, biodynamic, and wildcrafted ingredients—the integrity of their ingredients shines through in the quality of their final product, and anyone who has ever tried to source such ingredients will know that it's no small feat. The skincare market is flooded with brands using synthetic, toxic ingredients, it's refreshing and exciting to see so many boutique brands so clearly dedicated to not only your wellbeing but that of our planet's as well—it is truly impossible to go back once you have experienced the difference!
Julie is a success as an entrepreneur as well, quickly growing her brand far beyond her kitchen, the humble roots from which her business grew. She is driven by creating pure, ethical products that identify with her Canadian heritage, but also in creating a line that helps clients "feel good in their own skin." We were delighted to be allowed a peek inside their process, captured by the talented Lauren Kolyn.
WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE THAT DEFINES AND GUIDES PROVINCE APOTHECARY?
Province Apothecary (PA) believes in a holistic approach to beauty, combining the power of therapeutic, active plant ingredients, and wellness education to produce pure, natural skincare products that are both effective and supportive. We believe only the highest quality plant-based ingredients deserve to be used on your beautiful skin.
CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT THE WORK THAT YOU DO AND THE PRODUCTS YOU CREATE?
I am a Holistic Practitioner, Aromatherapist and Skincare therapist. I started PA because I saw a gap in the market making effective skincare that target specific issues and are customizable, from our clay mask or exfoliator to our custom serums we hand-make for each client and change with the season and their skincare needs. My focus is on sourcing Canadian raw ingredients and making the most plant-packed, effective, supportive skincare that is free of any toxic fillers. We have two sides of the business: one making products and selling them online, in our own store, and to retailers, and the second offering custom organic facials. We see clients daily and help them address their skincare needs.
I KNOW THERE IS SIGNIFICANCE BEHIND THE NAME PROVINCE APOTHECARY—CAN YOU SHARE MORE ABOUT THAT?
I chose the name because we source as many ingredients as we can from across all of the Canadian provinces. Our country is so rich and abundant in beautiful natural resources, I want to blend the wilds of Canada into our products.
YOU ALSO PRIDE YOURSELF ON THE INTEGRITY OF YOUR INGREDIENTS. WHAT LENGTHS HAVE YOU GONE TO IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO PROCUR SUCH PURE INGREDIENTS?
Our ingredients are everything! They are the back bone of our products and I have spent many, many hours searching, researching, and meeting some amazing people! When I started out, I asked everyone I knew for resources. Slowly but surely I have been able to make some wonderful connections. A few examples are: My uncle produces maple syrup in New Brunswick, so through him I was introduced to amazing maple sugar products; our organic beeswax is from Alberta and I actually met Sharon in Toronto and fell in love with her wax. Our Ontario treatment honey is from the father of one of our employees. It is so delicious and rich! Our British Columbia glacial clay is from a very small family-run business. It's so amazing to connect with and support other small businesses!
HOW DID YOU LEARN YOUR CRAFT?
I started by studying aromatherapy and holistic health and then became obsessed with skin care. I started with making products for my own sensitive skin, then for friends. I then began giving facials and making products for sale from my home, but it only lasted a year. The business grew much faster then I expected, it's been such an amazing journey! We moved to our Kensington Market location in Toronto two years ago.
I LOVE THAT YOUR PRODUCTS ARE SO CLEARLY MADE BY HAND, FROM START TO FINISH. WHAT IS THE OVERALL PROCESS OF MAKING THEM?
Each product is very different to make but we follow strict, good manufacturing procedures during our process, from proper sterilization, to suiting up in a hair net, mask, gloves, and lab coat. We measure, pour, mix and blend by hand in small batches. Once the product has been bottled so many things still have to happen such as labeling, sealing and packing. It's a very labor intensive process with lots of love and a fantastic team behind it.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE CREATIONS?
I love our balms and spot treatments the best. And our serums, I love putting oils on my skin! I need to keep my skin super hydrated during our Canadian winters, so I never leave home without the Hydrating Rescue Balm, and will apply it obsessively during the day.
HOW DO YOU MOST LIKE TO SEE CLIENTS USING YOUR PRODUCTS? ANY SUGGESTED USES?
I like to see them using the right products for their skin's needs, depending on the season and what's happening with their skin. I always recommend clients pop by our Kensington Skincare clinic to chat with me or one of our holistic aestheticians, or send us an email (email@example.com). We love hearing about your skin concerns/needs and helping you figure out your ideal routine. My favourite suggestion is to change up the recipe for your clay mask or exfoliator, using fresh ingredients from around the house. For example, if your skin's feeling a bit dull, mix the dry clay mask with mashed papaya for a fruit enzyme exfoliating mask, or avocado for more hydration.
WHAT FUTURE GOALS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
I can't wait to see PA grow and we have some great new products coming out this year! It's been so fun planning what's to come and formulating new recipes. I really want to keep developing products based on the needs of my clients that I see every day. I also have a few top-secret plans, so check back with us next year!
ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS?
It's hard work! I have always worked for myself (I was previously a freelance stylist and costume designer) and I thought I knew everything about working for yourself until I started this business. Things really took off when I decided to really devote eight hours a day to the business (while still supporting myself at night waitressing). It takes time and dedication. Don't give up!
LEARN MORE: provinceapothecary.com
CONTRIBUTORS & CREDITS:
LAUREN KOLYN, Photography: Lauren is a lifestyle and editorial photographer based in Montréal and Toronto, Canada. With a documentary approach to her photography, Lauren is a visual storyteller with a unique ability to capture the essence of the moment. Drawing much of her artistic inspiration from the natural environment, Lauren's photographic work explores the modest yet powerful beauty of her surroundings. She is also currently part of the Pure Green editorial team. View her work, follow her on Instagram.