It was an “interesting” first year for sure for The Boho Apothecary and Studio in Bentley, says owner Dawn Derrien, although the response from the community has been encouraging.
“People are interested in what I’m doing and that makes me very happy,” said Derrien.
The apothecary opened in September, 2019.
Traditionally, an apothecary was an herbal pharmacist that offered natural health solutions — in the modern use of the term, it refers to a retailer of toxin-free, natural living lifestyle products, such as natural cleaners and skin care products, Derrien explains.
The Boho offers toxin-free, natural living lifestyle products and a themed gallery showcasing local artists.
The studio is on a three-month cycle and is curated around a theme or concept. Currently, the theme “Flora and Fauna” and features local artists inspired by nature.
A long-time resident of Bentley, Derrien says she knew that she wanted to open a store, but wasn’t sure what she was going to sell.
Then she saw refilleries starting to open up in B.C. with some success, plus she’s always been into natural living, so she wanted to try something similar.
Refilleries are basically what they sound like — businesses that offer a refill program.
Boho Apothecary has a bottle exchange program. When customers bring back the containers for one of the products she makes in-house, they receive a 15 per cent discount off their next purchase. She then cleans and disinfects the bottles and reuses them.
She sells her own made-in-house cleaners and skin care products, as well as other products from other local makers.
About 90 per cent of the products sold in her store are women-led small businesses and the products are all Canadian.
Supporting women in business, local makers, artists and other local businesses is what Derrien is all about.
“I’m really out to build a community,” she said.
Despite the difficulties with COVID-19, she says she’s happy with the reception and support from the community and her customers she’s received in the apothecary’s first year.
And the support hasn’t just been from the local community.
Bentley is a welcoming place with a lot to offer with its variety of unique boutiques and tends to attract shoppers from outside the town, she says.
“It has a nice support network from a local network of people but Bentley in general draws people,” she said.
“Bentley has a cool network of cool local businesses and we support each other as well.”
She was able to re-open in June with the launch of Phase II of Alberta’s reopening plan, and has since adapted her business to COVID-19 restrictions.
Derrien says events, classes and workshops were about 50 per cent of her business model, so she had to rethink how she was implementing the education aspect of her business.
“That was a really big impact.”
Now she is focusing on holding her adult classes, children and preschool programs and other activities outdoors.
With winter coming though, she’s uncertain what her next step will be.
However, with colder weather setting in, she knows her next studio collection will be set around the feelings of warmth and comfort evoked from “sweater weather.”
For more information, check out her website at theboho.ca.