Chatting with friendly visitors and locals alike is a highlight of my time at the market, and people are often curious to know more about who I am and what I do. I put together a few of the questions I get asked most often, to share this week.
How did you get started? Have you always worked in this field?
The short answer to how I got started: Health. I grew up seeing loved ones around me stressed and suffering with various health issues. As I’ve gotten older and expanded my view to see health and healthcare through cultural and lifestyle lenses, the more critical it’s become for me to support positive, healthy living.
It’s also important for me to do work that feels good and aligns with what I value. And wellbeing and health top my list. As Virgil once very wisely said “The greatest wealth is health.” For me, that’s spot on.
My first career was actually in higher education. I worked for many years with university students, advising and administering international education and study abroad programs. While I was living and working in London, I added a degree in Integrated Health: Complementary Therapies to the mix and specialized in working with essential oils.
It seems like it's rare to have a straight-lined, super-efficient path in life, and my story is no different. My career path started with psychology, then higher education, and now holistic health. But I wouldn't change a thing. It's given me unique perspectives and experiences to build on - all relevant for starting Pure Luxe Apothecary.
Where do you make your products?
Update: I've since moved the workshop to Iowa City, IA - home of the Iowa Hawkeyes and most of my family!
Everything is made in my Olympia, WA workshop, a 300 square feet space in my home. With sunny windows looking out over a peaceful neighborhood and beautiful Washington evergreens, I spend a lot of hours there.
I started with a couple tables, a lot of ideas, and not much else. Over time, it's become an efficient space for creating and making. Now there’s a large work table for formulating, blending, and bottling; a counter for labeling and shipping; storage cabinets for raw ingredients, beakers, utensils, and scales; space for boxes and packaging materials; rods to hold rolls of labels; cabinets for finished products; and more. It’s constantly evolving as things grow and shift.
I make each product in small batches, so things are always fresh. This means I don’t need a ton of storage space for finished products, but but it also means I’m blending and labeling every week. If I’m not in the garden, you’ll probably find me in the workshop.
Who designs your labels?
Katrin Fuernschuss, owner of echt-kreativ in Graz, Austria, is the graphic designer who creates Pure Luxe’s unique labels and branding. We happened to be living in the same building in London, met randomly one day, and became fast friends. As my business ideas became more concrete and she launched her own business, she offered help with design work. She is so generous with her time and talents, and I’m grateful for both her friendship and her awesome creative skills. She captures the aesthetic of the brand perfectly.
What’s your favorite part of running this business?
I really enjoy the creativity - whether it’s creating something from scratch, solving a problem, or dreaming up a new or better way to do something. I love developing formulas. I love thinking about new product ideas. And collaboration. And photography. And display ideas.... That freedom and creativity to shape and build the brand is really fun and fulfilling. I’m only limited by my imagination.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
Patience, for sure! It’s hard to rein things in at times and remember I have to walk before I can run. I’m always looking ahead, wanting to do more. I’m not a perfectionist per se, but I always see what I could be doing better. I’m often thinking “ah, I need to do this …and develop that …and start this other thing…” And there’s never enough time each day to do everything. I think that’s a common feeling for small business owners. There’s an endless list of things you could be doing, or doing better, and it’s too easy to beat yourself up about it. So I try to remind myself that slow and steady progress is valuable and sustainable.
What are you most proud of?
Two things stand out. First, I’m proud of making products that truly support health and wellbeing. It’s so important to me to put good energy out into the world. And second, I’m proud of taking the risk to do something I love. It’s definitely scary, and there are inevitable moments of doubt. But my gut tells me I’m on the right path. And I trust that quiet, inner voice. When I step back and take a look at what I’ve accomplished this far, I can’t help but feel joy bubbling up.
So, onward! I hope you get out and explore your local food and artisan markets - and get to know someone new there. Have a great week!