LEADING LADIES INTERVIEW: Julie Clark Of Province Apothecary
Interview By: Liron Davis
Photos By: Arden Wray
Life moves pretty fast for Julie Clark. The owner of Province Apothecary, an organic skincare company, has a lot to accomplish in one day: from creating new skincare products that derive from wild-crafted ingredients, to giving people customized organic facials, to managing a growing staff and business. But despite her jam-packed workday, Julie is one calm, centered lady. She is completely present and focused on the most current task at hand, and has a positive attitude to boot. Here at Fortnight, we wanted to know the secret behind this businesswoman’s meteoric, yet seemingly zen-like success. So make some tea, take a deep breath and join us in finding out.
FORTNIGHT: Who are you and what do you do?
JULIE: I’m Julie Clark and I own Province Apothecary – an organic skincare brand from Toronto. We also do organic facials.
FORTNIGHT: Why is quality and craftsmanship so important to you?
JULIE: The biggest and the most important thing to me is ingredients. I’m really mindful of the food that I eat, which led me to be mindful of the products I use on my body. For Province Apothecary what goes in the product is all that counts – we don’t use any extracts and we do all of our own herbal blending. I’m really obsessed with the highest quality ingredients and the focus that I saw was missing is that no one was using Canadian ingredients. Everyone is always advertising that they are getting ingredients from different countries, but what about what we have in Canada?
FORTNIGHT: Can you also tell me about the treatments you offer in your clinic?
JULIE: We specialize in custom facials. Each person that comes in receives a different treatment and different products at the end. We have a standard routine where we focus on lymphatic drainage, stimulation, circulation, hydration, and detoxification. There are certain things we focus on depending on your age, skin type and what you’re looking for. Then we hand-blend all the raw, organic ingredients. Lots of seaweed and plant oils. At the end you go away with a custom serum and a custom routine for that season. I love education and empowering people to go home and take care of their skin.
FORTNIGHT: What are some other routes, other than getting a facial, where your customers can receive that education?
JULIE: Getting that direct communication with the client is really hard. It is a big issue that I see – how do we get the consumer to buy our products, use it properly and expand their knowledge. We have facials, we have Skype consultations where you can speak to myself or another aesthetician, you can come into the shop and we have the blog where wellness educators share their knowledge on skincare.
FORTNIGHT: When a customer is wearing your product, what do you want them to feel?
JULIE: Confident in what they’re using. They are going to see results. The ingredients are amazing. I work with an incredible botanist who helps me find great ingredients from all over Canada. Everything going into the product has an entire story to it and energy behind it. So I want people to feel pure energy from the product, which will energize your being – your skin, your blood cells and go right down to the root of your body.
FORTNIGHT: If you want to develop a new product what does that process look like?
JULIE: This year we are doing limited edition product runs. For example, we can get cucumber water now from Canada, so there will be a limited edition toner with cucumber water. We will try it, get some feedback, see if people like it and then maybe put out three toners and see which one does the best. It won’t go to market all at the same time but we will do a little census in store and online.
FORTNIGHT: It seems like you have so much on the go, so what keeps you inspired and motivated to keep moving forward and creating?
JULIE: All my clients. I still do treatments three days a week, so that allows me to keep grounded, keep focused and keep my hands dirty if you will. And I see what people’s skin is going through. There seems to be waves of issues. Last year was cystic acne and now it is a lot of scarring. As people change their routine, the needs become different. Before people had a lot of bacteria infections on their face and now that doesn’t really exist because people have changed, making their routines healthier, so they are not compromising this barrier on the skin. My clients inspire me to learn more, so I can figure out how to help them.
FORTNIGHT: How would you describe your boss style?
JULIE: Casual. We now have nine employees and this year we tripled in size. So it has been insane and unplanned. I’m now learning I need to be less of a casual boss, but before I only had three main employees and I was always so impressed, inspired and grateful for them. The more people that come on board, the more you need to teach them about the importance of the smallest day-to-day operations in keeping things going. Every small detail is important because if things aren’t done properly than the whole structure will fall over. But I also want my staff to be happy and have other side projects. I want them to have time to devote to us and do their own thing.
FORTNIGHT: Do you feel a big responsibility or pressure keeping it all together? Being this boss and also being true to you?
JULIE: No I am not like that at all. I used to feel a lot of pressure, but now I just dream about what I want and what’s going to happen and manifest that. There is no point focusing on what you don’t have and what’s not going right. But I work 13 hours a day and seven days a week so I live and breathe all of this, but I try not to let that get to me.
FORTNIGHT: What are some tools you use to not let it get to you?
JULIE: I blissfully ignore things. My email is always insane and I can never catch up to it. That used to drive me crazy and now I just leave it. I also have a rule that when I come home I just don’t work. So I try to finish all my work here before I go. And my husband Jamie and I don’t talk about work when we are home. That is a new thing that has happened this year, which has been great. Jamie has been wonderful – he has been my rock.
FORTNIGHT: What’s a really good piece of advice that you’ve been given?
JULIE: “You have to meditate more” has been a good piece of advice. I do transcendental meditation and that has helped me immensely. I learned it about 10 years ago when I was living in New York. You’re given a secret mantra that you’re not allowed to repeat and strict rules to follow. It is a really easy way to start meditating because there are so many rules and it can be easy to follow rather than the open concept of meditating, which can seem scary and daunting. Every idea I’ve had essentially happened while I was meditating. Even weird things like – oh we need this three-cart wheeler for the packing table! I like it because meditation allows you this time where you can let go. And it can be done almost anywhere or with anything.
FORTNIGHT: Speaking of meditation and being good to yourself, what do you think about self-care?
JULIE: Self-care is so important and so hard to do. I don’t do a very good job of it all the time. We tend to put ourselves last, so if you can just have a routine at home, like washing your face and moisturizing your skin every night, even that counts. Anything you add on to that are just bonuses. Say sleeping for eight hours or going for a walk. And no one has time for self-care it seems. So try to make as much time as you can for yourself. All my clients inspire me to take better care of myself because they take such good care of themselves.
FORTNIGHT: How do you unwind?
JULIE: I go to bed. I aim for nine hours of sleep. I get so high stressed in the day that I crash at night. I make dinner with my partner every night. Sometimes I have a bath and then I go to bed. In the morning I try to meditate or exercise so I find that part of the unwinding process. Sometimes I’ll give myself three hours in the morning to unwind.
FORTNIGHT: What is on the horizon for you or your business?
JULIE: New products! We are going to launch new treatments, which I am excited about. We are going to get into a lot more beautiful aging treatments. To teach our clients massage techniques and stone techniques and things that you can take home and do that lift the skin naturally and help tone skin. I’m excited for the limited edition collection. I also love the facials. I find I focus a lot on the facials and that inspires the whole company. My big goal this year is to free up enough of my time so I can take a few days off every week to go to traditional Chinese medicine school.
FORTNIGHT: What is your equivalent of the power suit? An outfit that makes you feel strong powerful, like you could take over the world?
JULIE: Sexy underwear is helpful in life because it makes me feel confident. And jeans and a t-shirt.
FORTNIGHT: What are some of your favourite independent labels and products?
JULIE: Eleven Thirty Shop, Horses Atelier, Chosen, Penny Arcade, Loversland, Victoire Boutique. We are in the hub of amazing businesses.
FORTNIGHT: If you could be locked in one store overnight and raid its contents, which would it be?
JULIE: Essence of Life. Food Trumps Clothing.
FORTNIGHT: In three words or less how would you describe your personal style?
JULIE: Basic and black and navy.
FORTNIGHT: What is your favourite meal?
JULIE: Anything Jamie makes. Lately we have been eating wild rice and he goes to the farmer’s market every week. I’m obsessed with pesto. I make it two times a week with different herbs. I am just green obsessed.
FORTNIGHT: Who is your greatest support?
JULIE: My husband and the Province Apothecary team.