Portland General Store: Artisanal Toiletries for Men

Does shaving make your skin itch? Do chemicals in aftershave lotions cause irritation and red skin? Say no more! From the rugged depths of nature to vintage bottles, Portland General Store creates artisanal vegan and organic cosmetics for men. Created in small batches, this line of skincare for men is constantly innovating and brewing up new concoctions. Lisa Brodar, the mastermind behind Portland General Store’s natural skincare recipes, talks men’s skincare and its more organic future.  

Words: Johanna Raudsepp

  Various Portland General Store Products.

Various Portland General Store Products.

What inspired the launch of Portland General Store? Where does the name derive from?

The idea was inspired back in the mid 2000’s, it was the heart of the maker movement in urban cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon. I was living in Brooklyn and took up an interest in knitting, getting my supplies from a knitting supply shop called “Brooklyn General Store”. Etsy was a new place where makers and artisans could sell their goods. I decided to start a shop that would sell artisans goods in Portland, Maine, where my partner and I had decided to relocate. When I came across a vintage perfumery book and old apothecary bottles, I started mixing up concoctions — creams, perfumes, oils — and so, the brand was born.

In natural cosmetics, ingredients are everything. What are your favourite components to work with and why? 

Wow, so many! I’ll narrow it down to my current favorites, since I’m always experimenting in the lab. Right now I’m a little obsessed with oils, especially camellia flower oil, which I use in a face oil. It is just so beautiful, and non-greasy, perfect for all skin types, male and female. The inspiration to use camellia flower oil in our face oil came its use through the ages in Japan. I mean, Japanese women have flawless skin, there must be a secret! One secret is that they use camellia flower oil to cleanse and moisturize. 

  Portland General Store Old-Fashioned Aftershave Balm.

Portland General Store Old-Fashioned Aftershave Balm.

Women's cosmetics have already taken a turn to natural. Are men's products following suit? Why do you think such a movement is happening? 

Absolutely, or at least I like to think so! Being at the forefront of this movement back in 2009, I would say it was a bit of a struggle to convince some men who were used to going to the neighborhood one-stop-shop bar of soap. Using names like ‘Whiskey’ and ‘Tobacco’ I think sort of tricked them into buying a natural product! 

Then, when they started to see results, like less oily or dry skin, less razor burn and irritation, less flaky scalp, they came back, they reviewed the products, we got featured, and there was sort of a domino effect. Matched with the growing trend in men’s grooming (not necessarily all-natural), more men have sought us out, but still, I think there are large pockets of men, domestic and worldwide, who haven’t yet caught on.

"Using names like ‘Whiskey’ and ‘Tobacco’ I think sort of tricked them into buying a natural product!" 

In what way does Portland General Store embody slow beauty principles? 

We definitely don’t rush the process. Every step is slow — from formulation, to making the product, to even how we fulfill and pack. I think a lot of it is like cooking — we pour our hearts into each product, and even each package. I try to imagine myself on the receiver’s end, opening this box, filled with goodies, a card, dried flowers, a sample. It is very personal. We are not a large corporation and fulfillment is done in-house.

What does Portland General Store dream about at night? 

Oh boy, many wonderful things! Big dreams include owning a farm with a little shop that sells the best in natural and organic skincare, and other goods related to living clean and well. But for now, we are in the midst of a package redesign, moving back to a true ‘General Store’ look and feel. We’re working with a hand letterer to design a couple of products this spring, and we’re very excited about that!

"I think a lot of it is like cooking — we pour our hearts into each product, and even each package." 


SkinYoga: 100% Natural Empowering Beauty from India

Drawing from ancient knowledge of purifying the body, mind, and soul, there’s a new 100% natural way of adapting to ancient rituals. Luxury skincare made user-friendly - and all you need to do is just add water! Indian award-winning skincare brand SkinYoga focuses on empowering women by educating them about the worth of natural beauty and traditions. Founded by a sister-trio, this beauty brand stems from a unifying love of nature and heritage. Radhika Choudhary, one of the co-founders of SkinYoga, spoke to us about their skincare range and its sustainable future. 

Words: Johanna Raudsepp

  SkinYoga Post-Workout Neem Purifier.

SkinYoga Post-Workout Neem Purifier.

What inspired you to create SkinYoga?

We grew up in a farm in India, where we used to grow our own vegetables, nurtured cows for dairy, and lived a very organic lifestyle. Then we moved to different parts of the world to study. We always got complimented for our skin and hair and at that made us realize it was the very simple and pure regime we had been following since our childhood. After seeing misleading claims from beauty brands that you only need 3% natural ingredients to call yourself a natural skincare brand, we were determined to develop and formulate a 100% natural and clean luxury skincare line that showed results in just one use. The idea was to create a product for the modern working women, so they could enjoy the best of ancient science and modern technology, yet without having to spend hours on different steps. 

How does SkinYoga follow principles of sustainable beauty?

We are 100% natural skincare brand and all our ingredients are plant-derived, pure, and unprocessed. Few brands in the world can say they are 100% natural.

There are many dimensions to being sustainable. We have kept all our products in a powdered state to keep them highly active and potent. When you’re ready to use it, you only need to add water to activate it. The stabilizing method helps us keep the ingredients highly active without any preservatives. We focus on the smallest details, from packaging to internal operations, making sure they follow an eco-friendly process. Our team is very actively involved in the community and participates in socially responsible programs. We frequently conduct educational seminars and exhibitions highlighting the importance of sustainable beauty.

"We have concluded that a beauty regime doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated and involve 20 different beauty steps."

  SkinYoga Corporate Gift Set.

SkinYoga Corporate Gift Set.

Who is your beauty inspiration?

Hundreds and thousands of strong independent working women across the globe, who have and are living balanced and healthy life with lots of style, not because they have to, but because they choose to do so. They are incredibly inspiring, and thanks to our profession, we are blessed to be working with many of such women today, our mother being one of them. We would also like to add that 100% of our workforce are women today.

What is your go-to beauty routine like?

It’s quite simple: cleansing, moisturizing and good sun block in addition to at least 6 hours sleep and loads and loads of water. We at SkinYoga are always looking to further simplify beauty routines. We have concluded that a beauty regime doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated and involve 20 different beauty steps.

"Our philosophy is “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your body”." 

  SkinYoga Oats and Roses Face Wash.

SkinYoga Oats and Roses Face Wash.

What inspires you when creating new SkinYoga products?

One miracle bottle. That’s our brief behind every product. If you look at our current range we have an ideal capsule skincare range, adaptable to every age and all climate conditions. Coming back to the idea that you don’t need 10 products to take care of your skin.

Quality has become a signature to our brand. Our team works extremely hard to create products,which are clean and effective. Our philosophy is “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your body”. 60% of what you put on your body is directly absorbed into your blood stream. Hence, it’s important to stay away from chemicals. 

How do you see the future of natural, sustainable beauty? Where is it directed? 

The future of the beauty industry is heading towards natural and sustainable brands. With the growing consumers’ awareness and demand, the natural skincare category is one of the fastest growing in skincare globally. But there is a huge gap in the market still and more brands are coming to that realization. 

Global demand for natural skincare products is expected to reach $13.2 billion by 2018. Thus, we will see more mainstream brands come up with natural skincare ranges in the future.

  SkinYoga Green Tea Face Mask.

SkinYoga Green Tea Face Mask.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2017?

Our dream and mission is to get every vanity bag chemical free. We love to empower women. We want every woman to feel confident and strong in their own skin without having to apply any makeup.

2017 is an important year for SkinYoga - we are coming out with 3 new products, including our first hair care product.

Want to shop or find out more? http://www.skinyoga.in/
UK readers can buy the products here: https://www.skinyoga.co.uk/

  Skinyoga Sandalwood Saffron Face Mask.

Skinyoga Sandalwood Saffron Face Mask.