Plant Apothecary: Meet The Woke Couple Making Beauty Products That Are Beyond Skin-deep

Photo by Nadeem G. Salaam, taken at Plant Apothecary’s Office in Greenpoint

Meet the husband-and-wife co-founders of Plant Apothecary, Bjarke and Holly.

Holly McWhorter and Bjarke Ballisager, are a well rounded husband-and-wife team with backgrounds in architecture, journalism, and music. They started PLANT Apothecary back in 2012 when they saw an opportunity to promote healthy ingredients, environmental friendliness, and social responsibility. Starting with organic bodywashes, the line has since grown to include moisturizers, masks and more. We chatted with them to explore their current product line and what’s next for this dynamic conscious duo.

GP: Say I just stumbled blindly upon your company, how would you describe what it is you provide?

Holly: We’re an organic skincare and bath products company based in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. We also have multiple missions, environmental sustainability, social responsibility, [with] cool package design to whatever extent we can! We both [looks to Bjarke] have design and architecture backgrounds, that was a big part of where we came into this industry from.

GP: What was the local landscape of organic products when you entered the market?

Holly: At the time we started, about 5 years ago, there weren’t as many organic all-natural skincare products that were really straight forward with contemporary design focused on minimalism. It was either, we’re trying to sell you something luxury so you felt you were buying into the luxury life-style, or hippie centric, and either way, things were very status conscious, but we liked very straight forward products and packaging, so we created Plant Apothecary to fill the hole in the market. Continue reading

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Recipes Gone Wild: Adina Grigore’s “It’s Spring So Let Your Skin Know It” Mask

Yesterday morning I decided to go for a run along the river, and I thought to myself Oh hey! I think it’s warm enough to don my shorts today!  After finding them in the bottom drawer buried under sweatshirts and long johns, I put on my running shorts, laced up my sneakers, and ran out the door. Down the sidewalk I bounded, happy to feel the sunshine on my skin for the first time this season. Along the way, I stopped to tie my shoe, and, in doing so, came face to face with my bare shins. Gasp! They were looking pretty shabby and neglected—pale, dry, and in need of some TLC. After wrapping up my run, I wrote to my friend and neighbor Adina Grigore (of S.W. Basics) to ask if she had any good skincare recipes to get me glowing again. Well of course she did! And in no time I had a recipe for a gentle exfoliating mask made from simple, basic ingredients (and on a sidenote, it actually sounds like it could be good on a slice of toast!).

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This facial could not have come at a better time. My skin and brain were feeling stressed.
A facial seemed like a good idea, but a facial on Nassau Avenue? I don’t have a regular place. Past facials had been vacation indulgences or afterwork in Manhattan. I’d say I have enjoyed about half, some were awkward or rough, some effective and satisfying.
At Freckle Salon, I received one of my best facials from Ania, owner and skin care expert, who started in Poland then worked for many years at a salon in Soho. But Ania and her business feel at home in Greenpoint.
At first the name threw me off, maybe because I grew up being called “Punky Brewster,” but Ania explained that freckles are natural, just like the products she uses, a hybrid of organic ingredients plus modern skincare products, like Dermalogica. Plus, she hates all the beauty salon names out there; Freckle stands out and is memorable.
I walked in and said, “this place is nice,” and a friendly customer getting highlights said, “and so are the people!” She was right.
What Freckle doesn’t have that salons in the city do is that weird, “I don’t know what to do with myself because this place is so eerily zen I feel uncomfortable” – vibe. Ania talked to me like a neighbor.” The chatter from the main room was comforting, rather than the “calming” music in most spas that makes me want to run out with half my robe on.
And Ania never left me wondering, what is going on? In Manhattan I always suspect the facialist is working on someone else at the same time because she will leave for minutes that feel like hours. But Ania was always there massaging my shoulders in the downtime.
She started by cleaning then massaging my face with coconut oil that felt and smelled great. At home, she explained, food grade coconut oil is great for massage. The steam on my face was really calming and the perfect temperature. Aside from a scrubby exfoliant she used a neat ultrasonic peeling device to remove dead skin cells.
After more massage and hot compresses, it was extraction time! She wasn’t one of the sadists who get OCD on every single pore until you are writhing in pain. She prepped my skin so well that when squeeze time came, it was a piece of cake. Then she used another device, called high frequency (pictured) to kill bacteria. And she let me take a cool picture of it with my fisheye! Last, a soothing mask.
When I left my skin was calm and felt great; not red and blotchy like some of the facials I’d received. I felt totally de-stressed and my complexion was bright.
Try a facial or one of the many other professional skin or haircare services at Freckle and save that swipe on your metrocard. You can get a Soho facial right here in Greenpoint.

Freckle Skin Care
154 Nassau Ave

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