“Super Fan” is how I would describe my feelings about Julie Clark and her booming natural skincare brand, Province Apothecary. I remember the first time we met (many moons ago now) Julie, like so many other small business owners, was running her business out her apartment in Toronto’s west end. Since then, she’s quickly built up an ever-growing cult following, and expanded Province Apothecary to include a retail space and skincare clinic on Dundas West along with stockists across Canada and the U.S. I’ve loved watching Julie build her business into an impressive empire and I’m thrilled to be able to share her story in today’s #FounderFiles feature! Keep reading to learn more about Julie and her brand.
Business Name: Province Apothecary
Name: Julie Clark
Location: Toronto, ON
Education: Healing Fragrances School of Aromatherapy, Viriditas Herbs
Edit Seven: Tell us about your brand, what do you do?
Julie Clark: Our focus is making organic, effective skincare and offering custom organic facials using our products and other high-quality raw ingredients. As well, we offer a community of resources and education for our clients so they can be empowered to take a holistic approach to beauty.
E7: How did you start your business? What inspired you to start?
JC: After struggling with allergies and eczema all my life, I got fed up with synthetic products that didn’t help me and started researching natural remedies. I began crafting natural, organic beauty products in my kitchen in 2012 and seeing clients for facials in my apartment. My clients really inspired me to formulate products, like our Clear Skin Spot Treatment and our Invigorating + Balancing Toner, because I saw a need for these natural, effective products.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
JC: It’s insanely fulfilling, and I feel so grateful every day! I am so lucky to work with so many inspiring and talented women and we all love helping our awesome clients with their skincare needs.
E7: What makes your business special?
JC: The fact that we believe skincare is just one part of a larger holistic approach to beauty and are willing to offer our customers education that allows them to truly understand and take control of their skin.
E7: What makes your product special?
JC: Our products are truly natural, which is surprisingly hard to find. They are made from pure, powerful botanicals that we source from across the Canadian provinces and around the world. We use whole herbs, active plant oils, therapeutic essential oils.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business?
JC: I have never run a business before so I have had to learn a lot. The biggest learning curve has been building and managing a team. As we grow like crazy every year, it’s really important to me to keep our team happy and motivated.
E7: What have been some of the pros and cons of building your business in Canada/Toronto?
JC: I love being in Toronto and Canada. I feel so grateful because Toronto has really been kind to us. We have so many amazing clients and stores in Toronto; and I could start small and slowly grow the business. Canada has been integral to the development of our products because we source so many local ingredients. This country is so full of amazing natural resources, I wanted to take advantage of as many of them as I can!
E7: What is you #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business?
JC: It’s double the amount of work you think it will be, so clear your schedule and get organized.
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
JC: No, it’s been an amazing journey and not knowing everything has really helped me ask for help and build an amazing team.
E7: What has your experience as an entrepreneur in Canada been like?
JC: Fabulous. I wouldn’t want to run a business anywhere else. We’ve been able to get some fantastic guidance from Canadian organizations and feel very supported.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
JC: I love my google calendar, without it I’d be lost. To stay balanced I escape to my farm up north on the weekends to relax and enjoy nature.
E7: Who are some of you mentors/role models?
JC: I’m so grateful for all my teachers, I would not be here without them: Danielle from Healing Fragrances, Jan from the Institute of Aromatherapy, John from Viriditus Herbs.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
JC: I have a few. I really value my morning routine, it grounds me and makes my whole day better. I love dry brushing each morning, massaging my face every time I apply products, and taking time daily to cook nourishing food.
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
JC: I love studying herbs and ingredients, whether in a classroom or in nature. And I love researching and reading books, I find educating myself always makes me feel inspired.
E7: As a company based in Canada, do you have international goals and if so why?
JC: We currently sell all over North America and we will be bringing PA to Europe later this year!
E7: Who is the Province Apothecary client and where can Province products by purchased?
JC: Our clients are all so wonderful! I still have some clients who used to see me when I first started in my apartment. All of our clients are thoughtful and conscious of what they put on their skin. You can buy our products on our website, from our Toronto store-front, and in boutiques and green beauty shops all across Canada and the USA.