Events & Announcements

Air + Water + Fire + Earth October 08 2015, 0 Comments

Some of you may be wondering what products called Air, Water, Fire and Earth are all about. 
"A deodorant that smells like water? A tea that tastes like Air? Uh, awesome..."

To get a better understanding of what these elements mean in regards to our products, lets first start by looking at what the elements traditionally represent. 

In astrology and Pagan traditions, the elements Earth, Water, Air, and Fire are used to relate to a particular function of the self:


Earth represents the physical body and matter
Water, our emotions
Air, the mind and intellect
and Fire, the spirit and intuition. 

 
Elements are also connected to astrological signs,
Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are Earth signs
Pisces, Scorpio, and Cancer are Water signs
Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are Air signs
and Leo, Ares, and Sagittarius are Fire signs.

We've attached elemental varieties to our deodorants, teas, fragrances, raw balms, and soaps. 

Does that mean you are only allowed to use an item that is of your sign?

Certainly not!

While many people I meet do happen to prefer the variety tied to their own sun sign, many others are drawn to their opposing element, which can bring balance. For example, Fire and Water are opposing, as are Fire and Earth, Earth and Air, and Water and Air. That would leave matching signs to be Water and Earth or Fire and Air. There really are hundreds of potential explanations as to what will draw you to a scent, including the possibility that it has absolutely nothing to do with astrological sign! 


So what plants do they use already!


Well, since Earth represents the physical, it is a very grounding and practical element, bringing us back to reality. For this reason we have used deep, sturdy herbs and roots such as dandelion root, sage, and clove.

Water, being tied to the emotions, is sensitive and inward. These items, like taking a swim, are fresh and cooling. Invigorating herbs like peppermint and rosemary are balanced with calming herbs like lavender and oatstraw so as to stimulate creativity but not to cause turbulent waters!

Air, being connected with the mind and intellect, is innovative and full of ideas. It's herbs are sweet and soft, with crisp notes like lemon and vanilla to inspire, balanced with calming herbs like lavender and chamomile to keep focused and not let thoughts run in circles or flit about. 

And finally Fire, the element of spirit and intuition, is passionate about life and acts on it's gut. Its herbs are spicy and warming with lots of ginger, balanced with soft herbs like catnip and vanilla to prevent overheating. 

What's the point? 

Why bother matching nature's elements to body care products? 
If we can bring a little bit of mindfulness to the way we treat our bodies, maybe that can translate to how we treat our whole being and those around us. Taking the time to build a personal ritual into your daily routine gives you the opportunity to slow down and think about what feels good to you, both inside and out. Maybe you wake up feeling excited but scattered, or calm but depressed. Maybe an invigorating ginger spray or tea sounds agitating today. Or maybe a grounding soap sounds boring. Having the tools from nature to bring balance to those feelings can offer peace of mind, body, and spirit. 


Shop element products here.



For a definitive reading on the subject of astrology I encourage you to read  "The Astrology Bible" by Judy Hall. 



Scenting: Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils & Our New Alternative July 17 2015, 1 Comment

It's no lie that essential oils have earned their place in the spotlight as of late. Rapidly growing in popularity, they have been touted to be a cure-all for everything from headaches to foot fungus. Here at The Rex Apothecary I have dedicated myself to using only essential oils to scent my body care products, since they are pure, high quality, therapeutic grade plant extracts rather than man-made synthetics that are refined using hazardous chemicals. My theory was that the closer to raw my ingredients can get, the better. 

I still stand firmly by this message. But after careful consideration and after researching the risks and benefits of essential oils vs fragrance oils I've come to a decision on which I will use from now on and it may surprise you: 

Neither.

Why, you ask? Pure plant extracted essential oils must certainly be healthy and beneficial for everyone, right? 

After heavy contemplation I have come up with a number of qualms with the current scenting industry:

Fragrances

             First off, fragrances. Too many products on the market contain fragrances which have been shown to cause asthma, skin sensitivity, endocrine disruption, and cancer. Even products labeled as "green", "natural", or "organic" have shown to produce as many hazardous chemical compounds standard ones. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and laundry products, currently does not require manufacturers to disclose any ingredients on the label, including fragrances in these products. The same is true for fragrances in personal care items, which are overseen by the Food and Drug Administration. The Household Product Labeling Act, currently under review in the U.S. Senate, would require manufacturers to label consumer products with all ingredients, including fragrance mixtures. 

           This is an excellent reason to know and trust your source of household and personal care products. If you're up for it: make them yourself. If not, my advice is this: do not trust that large corporations have your health or best interest in mind. They will tell you (and avoid telling you) whatever is necessary for them to make money. They prey on your desire for convenience and affordability. If convenience is no longer our priority and we instead look for quality and transparency in manufacture, we can take back our power of choice. There are plenty of small businesses who have wholeheartedly dedicated themselves to ethical, safe, transparent business practices, and by supporting them you are putting food on their table, rather than in the offshore bank account of a corporate CEO. Vote with your dollar! 

Essential Oils

                As for essential oils. I do believe that educated and safe use of essential oils can be highly beneficial, and these oils hold a valuable place in holistic wellness. Unfortunately, multilevel marketing companies like DoTerra and Young Living are touting the cure-all benefits of their oils (and only their oils). I strongly disagree with the practice of widespread misinformation being released by undereducated sales representatives (if you're not a licensed aromatherapist, you are undereducated in the realm of essential oils).

               For example, internal use and the external use of undiluted, or "neat", oils appears to be common recommendation through these companies and their representatives. Essential oils are a plant's defense mechanism, and therefore are highly antimicrobial. Taking them internally can potentially wreak havoc on the gut flora, resulting in imbalance, poor digestion, poor nutrient assimilation, and food allergy. It is a basic understanding in the holistic community that internal use of essential oils should only be done under supervision of a naturopath or aromatherapist, since they can take your individual needs and sensitivities into account.

            One drop of lemon essential oil in your morning water may seem like a simple, tasty, refreshing drink to kickstart the day. However it takes massive amounts of a raw plant to extract a very small amount of essential oil. For example, 150 pounds of lavender flowers are required to make 1 pound of essential oil. On a smaller scale, one drop of essential oil is about the equivalent of 30 cups of tea made from the whole plant. A simple squeeze of 1/4 lemon juice in your morning water has just as many health benefits, so 30 times that doesn't really seem to be a safe or necessary recommendation for general use. We should not be using therapeutic doses of essential oils so nonchalantly, or without the supervision of an aromatherapist.   

            As far as external use goes, no matter how high quality the oil there may always be someone who is sensitive to one component of it. That is why all essential oils, with few exceptions, should be diluted. We typically dilute to .5%-1% in our formulations and recommend a skin patch test before using the product on larger areas. But it's not known if this is enough for everybody, and I want our products to be safe and gentle enough for anyone to use without a disclaimer. Regardless, with growing popularity of a natural product there will inevitably be growing demonization and alarm. There are approximately three million people living in the U.S with peanut allergies, yet we do not outlaw peanuts. Despite the fact that Tylenol (acetaminophen) remains the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States and 1,500 people have died in the last decade from acetaminophen overdose (accidental or intentional), it remains on the shelves and recommended for everyone, including infants and pregnant women. We can be certain that if an herb was responsible for as many deaths, hospitalizations, and ER visits per year it would certainly be outlawed (but that's a conversation for another day). 

Our solution

            We began looking for organic flavor oils (not as highly concentrated in potent constituents as essential oils are) made from raw plant material, rather than synthetic chemicals. We will continue this search, but in the mean time it appears that there is not enough transparency in the fragrance industry for me to feel confident in stating our product is ethical and as raw as possible. Even for "natural" flavors and fragrances that have been deemed safe for internal and external use, many of them are produced in large factories whose employees are exposed to dangerous and even deadly amounts of chemicals and fumes in their processing. I do not want my company to support such practices, and it's possible you don't want the money you spend on our products going to support it either. 

            So I've decided that if I want to truly ensure that an ingredient is up to my standards, I'll have to make it myself. In the future you will see similar scents in the shop as now, only they will be made with bases infused in-house using the entire plant. This will have the added benefit of harnessing the plant's whole energy, obtained in a gentle and personal fashion rather than harsh industrial standards that exploit both the plant and the person working with it. 
Thank you for your patience during this transition as we try to maintain consistency and adjust formulas, labels, and listings. 

Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Spring Sale April 07 2015, 0 Comments

Portland, we're coming back for you!
Crafty Wonderland is a Portland institution, and we are so very excited & honored to have been selected to participate.

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"With a rotating line up of talented vendors, Crafty Wonderland is the place to go to find the best handmade goods in the NW, as well as affordable work from talented visual artists. It’s an event meant to bring together crafty people with those who appreciate cool handmade items, to support artists, and to spread the joy of craft throughout our community. The show even offers a kids’ area where budding young artists can set up and sell their work! Each Crafty Wonderland features a free DIY area where local artists share their talent and teach visitors how to make a craft of their own to take home."

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Voted "Best of Portland"
by both Portland Monthly Magazine & The Willamette Week.

Come on down to the Oregon Convention Center to see us, along with tons & tons of talented crafters, makers, & artists. 

We'll have Spring items available in addition to all of your favorites. 

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Saturday May 9th
11am-6pm
Oregon Convention Center Hall D
777 NE MLK Blvd. in Portland


Renegade LA Market October 21 2014, 0 Comments

We are so excited and honored to announce that The Rex Apothecary has been selected to participate in Renegade's LA Holiday market! I've long admired the makers and artists who are part of the Renegade team, and am thrilled to be placed alongside them.

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"Renegade Craft Fair is the world’s premier network of events serving the DIY craft community. RCF was the first event of its kind when it was founded in 2003, and 11 years later we are still the largest and most far-reaching with 14 annual events in Chicago, IL; New York, NY; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Austin, TX; Portland, OR; London, UK. On average, our events are attended by over 250,000 people annually, and hundreds of craft-based businesses have been launched successfully out of the fairs.

Vendors range from cutting-edge fashion and jewelry design to sophisticated ceramics and housewares, contemporary furniture and lighting, bath and body products, screen-printed art, paper goods, and more.

Beyond the vendors, you will find local artisanal food and drink, original art installations created just for the fair by hand-selected artists, interactive workshops, great music, good vibes and more." 

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We will be set up with the entire line, including new Winter Bundle items, gift certificates, & selections unavailable online! 

So come on down and get your holiday shopping done! With such high quality craftsmanship, no one will know you waited until the last minute ;) Or just shop for yourself, like I usually do!

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December 13th + 14th 10am-5pm

Grand Park 200 N. Grand Park Ave.


Tour Update October 11 2014, 0 Comments

It is with a heavy heart that I confess I have been unable to complete the cross country shop tour that I've been planning for the last six months.

A number of issues with the Winnebago, my animals’ health, and my own health presented themselves, delaying my original departure date and causing me to question whether these signs were telling me not to take the trip. Determined to follow through with what I started, I kept pressing on and dealing with the issues I was being faced. I finally set sail October 1st and made it 100 miles across Oregon, headed toward my first destination in Montana when I blew out a rear tire. A flat: no big deal right? I have AAA. Unfortunately, when the tread ripped off it blew a hole in the floor below my kitchen sink, tearing my water line. Additionally, my spare tire was from the original set that we replaced and it is actually is significantly smaller than the new ones because they don't make them in the original size anymore. To replace all 6 (which I already had done) would be upwards of $1,600. The flat alone was easy. The engine still ran and everyone was safe so it could have been a lot worse. The hard part was accepting that, for me, this was the final sign that this trip really wasn't meant to be.

I’ve tried my absolute hardest, quit my job, rented out my room, and purchased enough materials to make products through the holidays. I’ve sacrificed my own wellness and shed many tears, but if it was supposed to happen it would. I’m trying to stay positive: telling myself that the universe, or whatever has been stopping me from the trip, has something better in store for me. Something that I can’t be part of if I’m driving around the country.

In the mean time, I've temporarily relocated the shop to Southern California where I have family who can assist me with getting the animals healthy again and provide me with a space to fill orders and make more product. Wholesale orders are coming in, and I am so excited to be accepted as a Renegade Maker for their LA Holiday Fair on December 13th & 14th! So I have plenty of work ahead of me, and am very fortunate to have people who love me enough to support me through this difficult time. 

I may not be where I thought I would be right now, but I'm exactly where I need to be.

Thank you all for your support! 

 


US Tour Announcement August 16 2014, 0 Comments

If you've been following our instagram or have seen us at any Portland street fairs, you may already know that we're taking the shop on a cross country tour that starts September 15th!

And if you didn't know, you do now.

 

We will be touring events and brick & mortar shops around the US in a 1978 Winnebago lovingly named "Large Marge" 

 

The tentative route will be:

Portland, OR > Boise > Salt Lake City > Jackson Hole > Sioux Falls > Minneapolis > Chicago > Cleveland > Boston > Portland, ME > Brooklyn > Asheville > Nashville > New Orleans > Austin > Albuquerque > Los Angeles > San Francisco  

The shop is raising it’s own funds via a crowdfunding campaign. Your gracious support will be rewarded with exclusive products, personal souvenirs, & special rates on new services!  

☞To learn more & make a contribution visit:

igg.me/at/rexUSAtour

 And follow the live blog of the tour’s happenings right here!

 

^ That's Large Marge.