From Farm to Bathtub – Red Antler Apothecary
The scent enfolds you as soon as the elevator door swishes open, drawing you down the hallway to a tidy cupboard of a shop called Red Antler Apothecary. The store is located in Lowell’s Mill No. 5, a repurposed factory on Jackson Street.
It smells clean, floral and mentholated, its tall shelves filled with textured blocks in colors ranging from nearly black to pale lavender. The apothecary sells soaps, moisturizers, cleansers, and even mustache wax — all made by hand by owner Rachel Chandler, who grows many of the ingredients she uses herself, in addition to procuring some raw materials from local farms.
“We don’t use synthetics. Ever,” Chandler says. The amazing range of colors and scents comes from herbs, roots, fruits and oils, and ingredients such as shea butter, tea tree oil, honey, beeswax and seaweed. Soap scrubbing properties come from cranberry seeds or chicken eggshells.
“I get huge satisfaction that our products can help alleviate [some health] issues for people,” Chandler says. (Her 100-year-old pine tar soap recipe has been lauded by many as an excellent treatment for psoriasis.) Most products are developed by special request. “ ‘Park Ranger’ [soap] was made for an actual ranger who wanted to smell like bark and dirt and trees,” Chandler says.
A pair of elk antlers positioned above the shop’s entrance stand in sharp contrast to the oversize, glittering chandelier inside. The same whimsy can be found in the names of the products. You’ll find “Soy George” (soy, citrus and cranberry), “Boston Harbor Detox” (Earl Grey tea and activated charcoal), “Sage against the Machine” (beeswax, sage and rosemary), and “Dirty Harry” (fir, ginger and tobacco). As for packaging, Chandler says, “We work really hard to not generate the need for new plastic packaging to be made.” Bars of soap are hand-wrapped in white 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. You can also bring your own containers for creams, lotions or cleansers, all of which are sold by the ounce.
Red Antler Apothecary: Lowell, Mass. / (978) 726-7749 / RedAntlerApothecary.com