Note: Logo images are from the Silkka Garden Apothecary website.
I first learned of Silkka Garden Apothecary browsing the web for Canadian-made skincare. As my dear blog readers know, I love Canadian-made skincare and I’m always looking to try new brands to promote them. There are so many amazing Canadian businesses out there that the average Canadian consumer knows nothing about! Then I saw She’s So Eco’s post about her current skincare routine, mentioning Silkka. That confirmed it for me, I had to learn more! Now we get to go behind the scenes to discover the brand’s process and learn more about founder/crafter Liisa Allen’s journey. Read on for the interview and read yesterday’s reviews on the lovely products Liisa was so kind to send to me. I think you’ll agree that both Liisa and Silkka Garden Apothecary are fascinating!
Was it natural transition for you to go from being a journalist/freelance writer to a crafter of skincare?
Yes, I think it was. I have always had an insatiable curiosity, wanting to understand how things work, how things are made. (“Why?” may have been my favourite question as a child.) Research has always been one of the most interesting aspects of writing for me, and coupled with my love for DIY, I’m not at all surprised that I fell in love with crafting skincare. My interest in it arose when I was pregnant with my first child, and once I started to scratch the surface of personal care labels, I felt compelled to dig a bit deeper to understand not only the ingredients being added to products but why. It made me realize that, as consumers, we’d started to expect certain characteristics in a product, and these were all very superficial things (how a product glides, or how quickly it’s absorbed by the skin, for example). It saddened me to realize we’d all been led to believe we needed these qualities in a product, when in truth we need so much less to nourish our skin. Ultimately, it’s simplicity we should be looking for in a product.
How did you start your education in natural skincare?
Reading practically anything I could get my hands on about skincare, anatomy, plants and essential oils. Once I started experimenting with different formulas, and realized I could satisfy my skin’s needs with very few ingredients, I was completely charmed by the idea of crafting my own skincare from then on. Of course, the best way to learn your craft is to get your hands dirty, and that applies to any skill or hobby. You can read books about writing or playing an instrument or taking photographs, but if you don’t actually practice it’s all for naught. While I credit education (I’m currently studying for my aromatherapy certification) for providing me with more in-depth knowledge, nothing has truly provided the understanding of how ingredients interact better than working with them.
What one ingredient or product would you never, ever use today and why?
There are many, but if I have to choose it would be “fragrance.” There are many undisclosed chemicals that comprise synthetic fragrances, like phthalates (a class of chemicals linked to hormone disruption) and neurotoxins (chemicals toxic to the brain) and besides that, they smell so unnatural.
Besides the products you create, what do you use in your daily routine?
Make-up, if I’m going out (which really just means to the grocery store), but it’s a pretty basic routine consisting of concealer, blush, eyeliner, mascara and lip balm. On a typical day I use Sukin Organics shampoo and conditioner, Green Beaver fluoride-free toothpaste, whatever deodorant I’ve concocted last, and raw honey to wash my face with.
It’s a simple routine, obviously, but I prefer it that way. Over time I’ve found that having a lot of stuff, whether it’s clothes, beauty products or knickknacks, really weighs me down. I truly believe less is more, in all areas of life.
What are your dreams or plans for where you would like to see Silkka go?
In the immediate future I’m focused on growing the line, and including more products to accommodate a variety of skin types. The big dream includes planting and harvesting Silkka’s “Garden Apothecary” of healing herbs, offering a full range of products (for the entire family), and hiring a small staff to help in all areas of operations. Ultimately, I’d love to see Silkka products in stores across Canada, and with the growing awareness of and interest in natural products, I see this as a very real and attainable goal. I also think there’s still a bit of a niche to fill, in terms of affordability. From the beginning I pledged to make my products more affordable than most, and you’ll find almost all of Silkka’s current products are under $20. Whatever’s in store, I’m looking forward to the year ahead, connecting with customers new and old, hearing their feedback, and continuing to introduce new products to the line. I truly love what I do, and feel extremely fortunate that I get to do this every day!
My thanks to Liisa Allen not only for doing this interview and sending me the products (which I love) but for being a real sweetheart to deal with. You have a genuine warmth and sincerity that comes across in all the things you do and it has been a pleasure communicating with you. I’m sure others besides myself will fall in love with Silkka Garden Apothecary‘s products and with you!