I met Sami at Indie Beauty Expo last year and was so excited about it. I had seen her items on my feed time and time again, but had never gotten the chance to actually make a purchase. That changed when I was at IBE, since I ended up getting these awesome items. Upon meeting Sami, I felt so welcomed and it was invigorating talking to someone so passionate about what they do. I think we can all agree that when an indie business is a personal one, you feel different about the products you're buying and using on a daily basis.
Well that's how I felt with Sami and florapothecarie in general. Of course I had to get both me and my bf something, because that's my excuse for all my purchases. With all the items being organic and vegan, it was hard not getting everything. But enough about my shopping habits, let's get to know Sami and how florapothecarie came to be!
You started in 2009, when indie brands weren't as popular as they are now, what do you think separates you from all the other brands?
I did start making products in 2009 under a different brand name with a very different product lineup (sweets-themed skincare!). Though my products have always been cruelty-free and vegan, back then I still used some man-made fragrances and chemicals. When I re-branded and launched florapothecarie in 2016, my new line was 100% natural with a focus on hypoallergenic ingredients. Many other natural/vegan/organic skincare lines will use things like almond oil which are inexpensive and great for your skin — except if you have a nut allergy. I want florapothecarie products to be allergen-free and approachable for all.
Everyone has different skincare issues, what do you believe is a key ingredient to making sure you are preventing issues from happening?
If I’m interpreting this question literally, I’d say find something with salicylic acid (found in willow bark) or tea tree oil to heal and combat acne — both of these ingredients can be found in my Acne Spot Treatment and Rose + Willow Facial Cleanser. If you have dry or sensitive skin, stay away from harsh surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate and cocoamidopropyl betaine (two of the most common ones found in cleansers). Instead, go with something entirely natural made with oils and Castille soap to hydrate your skin as well as cleanse it — natural beauties swear by my Rose + Willow Facial Cleanser because it’s incredibly gentle and moisturizing but still incredibly effective at getting rid of and preventing acne. In general, I recommend finding what works for you and sticking with a routine. Cleanse twice a day, use a toner after cleansing to re-hydrate and bring your skin back to its appropriate pH level, and follow up with a serum or moisturizer.
What are your favorite ingredients to work with?
You’ve probably noticed how many of my products contain rose in some form! It’s funny, I used to hate the smell of rose… but that’s because I was used to smelling fake, manufactured, super-sweet rose. Pure rose essential oil and rosewater are light and lovely and so incredibly wonderful for our skin. I also love jojoba (pronounced ho-hoba) oil, which is actually a wax esther. It functions very similarly to our skin’s own natural oils so it absorbs nicely and also helps balance oil production in our skin’s sebum.
What was your main concern with your skin and what made the biggest difference?
I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always had pretty good skin, with an acne flare-up every now and then. Because I live in New England, my struggle usually involves battling the elements. In the harsh dry winter air, I will occasionally follow up my daily skincare routine (cleanser, toner, serum) with some of my Whipped Body Butter as well. Not too much — just whatever’s left on my hands after moisturizing my body. In the hot and humid summer, I’ll spritz myself with Rose + Tea Facial Toner throughout the day when I need a refresher or cool down.
What are your top 3 recommendations for any skin type?
Cleansing, toning, and moisturizing are the cornerstones of any good skincare regimen. Beyond that, you don’t need much else! Many people tend to skip using a toner or astringent because they’re not sure what exactly they do. To summarize: using any cleanser that contains a soap (even something as mild as Castile soap) will make your skin’s pH level more alkaline or basic. Using a toner or astringent right after cleansing and before moisturizing will bring your pH level back down to a slightly acidic level which is normal for our skin. Plus, a toner has hydrating ingredients, like aloe, green tea, and rosewater which can all be found in my Rose + Tea Facial Toner.
How do you go about creating your products?
Many of my products were born out of a need to make 100% natural version of a product I’d been using or a challenge from my customers. I will usually test what’s on the market, research recipes and ingredients, determine which ingredients will work best for the particular product I’m making and see if I need to add anything in to balance or round out the product. For example, I use witch hazel in my Rose + Tea Toner, which is wonderful for tightening skin and restoring your pH level, but it can also be drying. So I add in aloe, green tea, and rosewater to soften and hydrate, balancing out the drying effects of the witch hazel. Once I arrive at a recipe I think will work, I try it out and test, test, test before adding it to my lineup.
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned from having your own brand and creating products?
Being your own boss is hard. It’s always something I’ve wanted because I like independence and the ability to make my own decisions, but it also means I’m alone in all of that decision-making, and bookkeeping, and product-making, etc. I have to be very diligent about budgeting my time and money as an entrepreneur. Both of these are the hardest things I’ve had to learn, but it’s also made the most positive impact on my business.
Favorite and most uplifting quote you have stumbled upon?
“I like my products like I like my people — non-toxic.” I don’t know who said it, but as someone who has had to ditch toxic people and products, it rings very true for me.
Since you create your own skincare, what are some brands outside of yours, that you are committed to?
Everything I use for skincare and bath I make myself, which is pretty awesome! I am a big fan of Shea Moisture for hair care, Treefort Naturals (a fellow Connecticut maker) for soap, and I don’t wear much makeup but what I do is either from 100% Pure or Lily Lolo.
If money wasn't an issue, what would you spend your money on?
Finding a production space outside of my home with wooden floors and lots of sunlight, a few machines for mixing and dispensing products more quickly, and eventually hiring my niece who loves to help me!
What trend are you tired of and don't understand?
Anti-aging. I know, I’m only 30 so it’s hard to say I have an issue with anti-aging rhetoric, but I do. It’s just a symptom of larger societal problems with women’s beauty. We can’t prevent wrinkles forever — why not try to age gracefully?
What is something you wish your were more knowledgeable on and why?
Sometimes I think it might be good to become a certified esthetician, but I think this is more out of feeling like a fraud than feeling like I’d actually gain anything from it. I have studied biology especially as it relates to our skin and hair, and I’ve studied herbalism extensively. I don’t think becoming an esthetician would dramatically help my business, especially because I don’t think I really want to offer hands-on treatments.
Who's your go to band or artist when you can't decide on what to listen to?
Lissie if I’m in the mood for something soothing or folksy, or an 80s playlist if I want to dance and be energized. Cyndi Lauper is my spirit animal.
Who or what brand, has impressed you the most with all they've accomplished?
LUSH. I think all of us natural beauty makers owe it to LUSH for being the first to really grab hold of the green beauty trend and bring it into the mainstream. You can find a LUSH in almost every mall! But, I also hate how much they greenwash. I love that they use many natural ingredients, but when they mix in toxic chemical preservatives to prolong the shelf life of those products, they’re just doing more harm than good.
Looking back 10 years from now, how accomplished do you feel with you and your brand?
I feel incredible because I’m working for myself, I have a modest team, I’m supporting causes I love, and I have loyal customers whose lives I’m making a difference in.
What an awesome end to a great interview. You can really tell Sami is passionate about her business and products.
If you're a coffee fan, absolutely pick up the scrub, it smells like coffee and cream!
What are you picking up?