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MEET OUR MAKERS: Erin Wexstten, Owner+Founder+Proprietress at Oxalis Apothecary

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MEET OUR MAKERS: Erin Wexstten, Owner+Founder+Proprietress at Oxalis Apothecary

Steely Dipuccio Anderson

Erin is another talented maker that I met at the Renegade Craft Fair in Austin last year. I was immediately drawn to her booth because it was aesthetically gorgeous and she had the friendliest smile. Erin was there showcasing her plant-to-body line of skincare called Oxalis Apothecary. She was giving demonstrations, explaining what each ingredient in her products is and what it does. Visitors were able to touch, feel, smell and try her line - myself included. I fell in love with her Rose+Neroli Toning Mist and knew that I wanted to carry her products. I also secretly wanted to be her bestie.

Erin has such a passion for what she is doing and the credentials to match. She studied Fashion Design and worked in the industry in NYC for over a decade. She then got her certification in Organic Body Care Products from the East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies. She started Oxalis Apothecary while she was living in Brooklyn, but has since relocated to New Orleans. If you've been fortunate enough to try her products, you are probably as obsessed as I am. If you haven't yet, I hope that you'll give them a try and enjoy learning more about Erin and Oxalis in the meantime.

When did you start your business and why?

I began brainstorming and creating products for myself in the Fall of 2014 and officially launched the brand in June 2015. I didn't know that I wanted to be an entrepreneur until I began creating the brand. My background is in Fashion Design and I knew I wanted to have more creative control and create something more meaningful to me. I love design and children, and working at the BabyGap taught me so much about running a business, but something was missing. Skincare has always been a huge part of my life and the ritual was instilled in me at an early age by my mother and grandmother. They taught me to always take care of my skin and take pride in self-care. As I started educating myself in what products I was using, I began switching to all natural products and welcomed many natural brands in to my routine. I knew it was a growing industry and I began dabbling with recipes and realized I enjoyed the process of discovering a new ingredient, doing hours of research and creating a product. I shared with friends and family and it gave me so much joy to hear their excitement and feedback, many of them not knowing the power of true plant, mineral and herb-based products. From there, I could not stop and I put things in motion to design and create a full line of skin and self-care. I became certified in Organic Bodycare Products from an herbal and aromatic school which strengthened my knowledge about formulations, skin types, best practices, etc.

What/who are your major influences?

That's such a good question and I think it has many different answers. As cliche as it may be, my mother has been a huge influence on me. Always insisting I search for what truly brings me joy in life and her encouragement and support throughout the years of what felt like misguided attempts to find something I loved was priceless. I was a dancer my whole childhood and early adult life so I've always been influenced by the Arts - theater, music, film, etc. I take influences from the world around me, currently New Orleans. This place has such a special magic and beauty which has really propelled my career in ways I couldn't have expected. There is something incredibly powerful about a place where flowers and plants grow year-round. I also stay tuned in to what's happening in the skincare/beauty industry. When I'm creating a product, I seek out active ingredients for a specific purpose and work to create a unique idea that I want to incorporate in to my skin/self-care routine.

Do you have a favorite piece or product that you've done?

I'm really proud of all of the products I've created because they are all special to me in some way. However, I am totally obsessed with my Daily Glow Facial Serum. It's my ride or die product and it has completely changed my skin for the better! I've struggled with blemishes for as long as I can remember and this serum has helped so much. Not to mention, it's full of powerful ingredients like mega antioxidants geared towards anti-aging and sun damage and it hydrates without leaving a greasy feeling. I love it!

What's the best part of owning your own business?

Creating your own unique vision is extremely liberating. Dreaming up an idea and actually following it through to fruition is one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had! I love that I can create my own schedule and not feel the stress of a 9-5 workday, which for me, working at a major corporate company was more like 9-forever. I wanted to take back control of my life and my schedule. I need to be there for my family right now as my father battles with Frontotemporal Dementia and this "job" has allowed me the flexibility to be with them when they need me. It's also a very humbling experience, knowing that you are the face of a brand that people bring in to their homes and use in one of the most intimate experiences. 

What is a typical "work" day like for you?

I try to keep a general schedule but each week varies. Most mornings are spent with coffee and an Instagram post and checking email. I hang with my partner most mornings as he works as a restaurant manager and works late most days. If I have orders to fulfill, I try to get those out of the way first so I can either make whatever product(s) need making or catch up on ordering supplies, answering emails, or doing research. There are often days where I am feeling stressed or scattered and creating a batch of one of my products feels some cumbersome. On those days, I give myself permission to not create that day. It is so important for me to be able to take my time and pour good energy in to those products and if I'm not feeling it that day, I won't. I'm extremely organized so I never get too far behind but I love that I can make those decisions for myself. I aim to enjoy the evenings and weekends though I would say I work every day of the week, but it's not a rigid schedule and I do my best to enjoy some free time!

What does the process of making a piece or product consist of?

My process usually begins with the question "what am I needing right now?" That can mean many different things, but I create products that I WANT to use. I suffered with severe migraines for years (they've subsided now that I left my job as a designer - whoa) and I needed a natural remedy because taking an Advil every other day is just no good. I created the Feel Good Potion and it's become one of my best selling products. When I began the initial research and development for the Facial Cleanser I asked myself a lot of questions such as: what needs does this cleanser address, what key ingredients do I want to include, what kind of consistency/feel/smell do I want it to have? Once I nail down those answers I begin formulating, which can often take a very long time. Other times I can nail a formulation within a couple of months and have a new product in no time. I am currently dreaming up a new product and hope to have it out by the summer, so keep an eye out!

What are your favorite ways to unwind when you aren't working?

Living in New Orleans allows you to be a year-round bike rider and I love biking! I also enjoy yoga, dancing, gardening with my partner, Yuri, and sitting on the couch with a delicious glass of wine watching one of the many incredible TV shows on right now is my idea of a perfect night :)

To learn more about Oxalis Apothecary, visit the website here.