We met with Carolyn to talk about her artisanal shop, The Natural Choice Apothecary, aftcra’s featured store for July. Get to know the story behind The Natural Choice Apothecary, how Carolyn and her husband create their botanical bath and body care products, and where she finds her inspiration to create classic and fresh spins on handmade apothecary products for The Natural Choice Apothecary in our interview.
1. Tell us about The Natural Choice Apothecary
My name is Carolyn, my husband Ulrich and I are the herbalists behind The Natural Choice Apothecary. Together we handcraft spa grade, botanical based, bath and body care products with vintage roots, reminiscent of simpler times. At the foundation of our natural care line we begin with homemade base oils, naturally infused with organic and wild crafted herbs. Our lightly tinted products feature our own unique plant-based dye.
We live cradled in the woods of South Carolina, and we are surrounded by a forest full of medicine. Working from home allows us to harvest local herbs and flowers as they come into season. Nothing gives us greater pleasure than spending time in our garden and going out for an adventure in our woods with a harvest basket, collecting the hidden and forgotten bounty that nature provides us.
2. How did The Natural Choice Apothecary get started?
It all started back in 2007, when my daughter was diagnosed with psoriasis. As anyone with sensitive skin, or any uncomfortable skin condition, knows finding soothing body products can be a bit of a nightmare. The more I learned about the synthetic ingredients, and the more I watched my little one struggle with the progression of her condition, I knew I needed to find a natural answer.
I poured over texts (classics from the 1970’s still remain my favorites), took classes in Herbalism and Aromatherapy, and taught myself from scratch how to create healthy, safe, and natural products for my daughter. I quickly learned there was a real demand for this type of quality product, and at the spurring of friends and family The Natural Choice Apothecary was born.In the Spring of 2012 we started displaying our products at the local farmers market and at nearby art shows. In December of 2012 we joined the world of online crafters.Our goal remains the same now, as it was in the beginning, we want to create natural, botanical based options for everyone from infants to grandparents.
3. How do you make your botanical body products?
Most of what we make is a blend of cooking, science experiments, and playing with plants and flowers. We have a dedicated studio, in our home, for the actual production of the products. The gathering happens in our back yard and we have a heavy duty dehydrator to preserve the bounty we gather.
4. How did you come up with the name “The Natural Choice Apothecary”?
When the time came to turn my hobby into a business, we spent weeks brainstorming. We wanted the name to be something simple and direct. Our products are “all natural” and we wanted the name to reflect that as well.”Apothecary” was a popular 1800’s word for a person who prepared and sold medicines. Our natural lifestyle relies heavily on herbs for medicine. We use herbs to flavor our meals, we drink herbal tea made with petals, leaves & roots, we use infused into oils for salves, lotions, and home remedies.We loved the old timey, nostalgic feel of the word Apothecary and we felt that “The Natural Choice Apothecary” was the perfect reflection of our homesteading inspired lifestyle and our handmade product line.
5. What is the inspiration for your work?
Usually new product ideas come from custom order requests. Often a client will ask us if we can fill a need they have. I love to research and tinker so coming up with new formulas is always an exciting challenge. All of our new products go through a few rounds of customer testing (no animal testing here. LOL) before being offered to the whole online world.
6. What is your next new exciting project?
We currently have a new line of vegan lip butters in the testing phase and we are also working on a new line of herbally infused body lotions that should be ready by the holidays.
7. What piece of advice would you offer to other small businesses?
During my 20’s I spent several years working as a representative for a MLM beauty company. Most MLM companies are very big on supporting your team members, working together, sharing ideas and promotional materials, reading motivational books together, setting goals, and recognizing achievements.When I began working in a more freelance environment, I found myself longing for that team spirit I had with my previous endeavor. My advice to other small business owners is to network. Do it all the time! Find online groups of other people that craft with the same medium as you, join other work-from-home groups, meet with small business owners in your own area, join groups for sellers on the same platform as you. Learn from each other and share tips, encouragement, and collaborate together!
Here is the aftcra Sellers Support group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1534434493489325/.
8. What is a quote that you personally live by, or you have shared with others for inspiration?
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” ~ Robin Williams
I believe that fresh, new ideas are wildly important to life and progress. Each generation rebels and tries to do a better job at living life than the previous generation. I’m humbled and honored to have the opportunity to live in an era where unique ideas are celebrated and new concepts can spread virally across the world in minutes.
9. Why did you choose to join aftcra, and what do you enjoy about the community?
Initially I chose to join aftcra because it was free to open a shop and all of the products sold on the site had to be handmade. They also made it very simple to import my whole Etsy shop into a new aftcra shop.
The platform was pretty easy to learn and the staff was prompt with answers to all of my questions. I was very excited to get my first sale within a couple days of opening my shop! Once I got a sale I was motivated to read everything I could find about this cool new site, to find more sellers, and to network as much as possible!
10. What does “handmade” and “handcrafted” mean to you?
To me, “handmade” is something that you have literally made with your hands and “handcrafted” refers to something requiring a practiced skill or art.
Get regular updates from The Natural Choice Apothecary! Connect with their social profiles here:
The Natural Choice Apothecary VIP Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheVIPofTNCA/
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