It all started about 20 years ago when my mom told me that our family dog and my stepfather were diagnosed with the same form of cancer called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. We both thought it was so strange and couldn’t possibly be some random coincidence. My mom started investigating (she’s always loved CSI). This was pre-internet era so it was a matter of making phone calls and digging rather than a 2 second search on Google. It wasn’t until she talked to someone at Environment Canada that she got her answer – pesticides. At that time, they were living in a rural area in a town where everyone sprayed their lawns including them. The environmental information was not available back then (even though Silent Spring had been in print for about 30 years). This changed the way I saw everything. I realized that our health was not being protected by the government or the industry. Every chemical became suspect. My poor dog was put down but my stepfather is still alive and flourishing which I will always credit to my mom for cleaning up the home from harmful chemicals and, of course, the miracles of modern medicine. I realized that you have to protect yourself and not trust that a product that is on the market or that is legal to spray on your lawn is necessarily safe. I became a cynic at the tender age of 20 – just kidding, that happened during puberty and lasted my entire adolescence.
I spent my 20s using various skin care products. Back then I only knew about Aveda, which I loved and used when I could afford it. I also tried basically every department store product from Clinique to Lancôme – my skin was always a priority. Looking back, I think this was great because it set the bar high for what I expected in a product. One day in my late twenties, I noticed that my mom’s skin was looking really good. She had what I now call a ‘carotene glow’. She told me that she was using a natural cream by Burt’s Bees (they were smaller back then and not owned by Clorox). I was shocked. I assumed that natural products were a healthy choice but not necessarily great performers, a prevailing attitude out there. This got me thinking…I really wanted more people to know that they could put non-toxic products on their face AND have the best skin possible.
Around this time I also discovered essential oils. I was in a health food store and noticed the little bottles with names of herbs on the label and started smelling. I was amazed – scents that actually smell exactly like the plant because they are the plant! Why doesn’t everybody know about this? This also got me thinking…
Everything started lining up when the insurance company I was working for went through a merger that gave me the opportunity to leave with a severance and a grant to start my own business if I wanted to. I could not pass this up, it was a once in a lifetime situation. I knew I wanted to spread my natural beauty discoveries with the world so I wrote a business plan to open a store selling all of the brands that I loved. As I started researching brands, I came across recipes for bath products and aromatherapy and also raw ingredient suppliers. This got me really curious and excited so I placed my first order of waxes, essential oils, butter and carrier oils. I started melting, mixing and pouring over my kitchen stove and to the market I went. I sold my goods in Fergus, The St. Jacob’s Market and The Kitchener Market. I also got my aromatology certification, which is the study of essential oils without the massage portion. And this is how Cocoon Apothecary began.
It evolved from bath products and remedies to skin care because that is what people kept asking me for and I was most proud of the fact that I could create a lotion, one of the more difficult formulas to concoct naturally. My pride and joy has always been Rosey Cheeks Facial Cream – it was the moisturizer I had always dreamed of. The one I was always hoping to get when I spent $60 on 50ml jars at the department store counter. It remains my best seller to this day.
In the last 10 years I have built this company from the ground up with the financial support of my husband Lane and part time jobs at a bank and the most awesome environmental magazine in the world, Alternatives Journal. I had my first baby in 2008, at which time I left work for good, and I had my second baby in 2010. Lane was able to join the company full-time in 2010 and he is an integral part of it now handling manufacturing, sales and shipping. We are living the dream, running our business and raising our family. Every day I feel like I have to pinch myself and am so grateful to my loyal clients and the support of family and friends that have made this possible. Onward and upward!