Prior to my settling into this burgeoning wonderful city were claims circulating that Queen Street West was becoming the hippest, most charming and diverse areas. A destination in the Six—nothing short of cool. They were right.
Rated number two on the list of trendy neighbourhoods by Vogue, “globe-trotting tastemakers” are not the only ones enjoying this booming sector. Locals, find themselves anchored by eclectic bistros and cafes, trendy clothing boutiques, walking muses and most of all just a creative and artistic district aimed to satisfy any curious patron.
What I found most intoxicating was the vast amount of businesses owned by young millennials. Toronto is full of entrepreneurs, but if you want to see real hustlers in the making — come here for a dose of inspiration.
When I stepped into what I saw as quaint and intriguing, was a small skincare boutique that immediately spoke to me. The Cure Apothecary had a nurturing ambience. It was though I stumbled into a place and met someone who truly understood what I had gone through.
Rather than a prescription for a good skincare regime, The Cure Apothecary provides a simple and conscientious antidote exclusively to match your skincare needs contrary to big name chemical laden brands.
My inspiration comes from doers and the action-takers. What makes them tick and how they got their start.
I am especially interested in the makers and curators of natural skincare. Switching to a natural way of living was something I am so proud of. Going basic, making the switch to organic ingredients and being “clean” has unequivocally changed my life. To see someone else introduce a new and fun way of using skincare, I had to know more. So I interviewed her.
Nitasha Goel is the founder and creator of The Cure Apothecary her very own skincare line Dahlia & Sons and truly a force to be reckoned with. Her shop opened in September of 2014. She’s been featured in publications such as Elevate, Monocle Magazine, Toronto’s Loulou Magazine, several influential blogs and still killin’ it.
Her neighbourhood patrons include hockey wives, media assistants, hipsters and even men looking for no-fuss methods and products to get them started on the perfect grooming routine.
Here is the interview of someone who is rocking and redefining the way skincare should be used.
Tell us about The Cure Apothecary?
The Cure is a natural organic head-to-toe skincare boutique catered to men and women. It originally came about for my needs and wants in my neighbourhood.
I live and breathe Queen Street West. I support local and I’m a huge boutique shopper. I noticed throughout the years of being in the industry of buying and selling that QW was lacking an all natural focused boutique.
I also noticed the trend of men becoming more and more interested in their skincare regimes, wanting to care of what they have, but unfortunately there are very few skincare boutiques that cater to men, visually and product wise.
So, the whole concept of building the aesthetic of The Cure was to make it look like a cabin. To have any walk of life feel comfortable in here. It’s not too feminine, not too masculine, its very neutral. It’s very much me. Resembling nature, you will see there are no metals, all wood.
What inspired the name and concept?
One day I was driving and The Cure came on, I grew up with this band. As a teenager I loved them. So I thought, oh man, what an awesome name for a store. I just sat there and listened to it. I knew it was a perfect fit. I ran upstairs, called up my friend and told him, it’s The Cure Apothecary! He said yes that’s you, that’s perfect. It just clicked and wasn’t forced. Out of 100 names, this made sense.
Just before getting possession and opening up the boutique I went away to Tulum Mexico which was my biggest inspiration for the aesthetic of the boutique. I picked the floors cause it looked like sand, my units remind me of the buildings. It’s wood and sand and nature. All the buildings are fairly light with dark grooves, and that’s what I mimicked for all of my fixtures.
My best friend is a designer, who locked down my logo while we were away and I thought, this is the best place to be doing this—getting those creative juices flowing. I had my vision.
My friends who are artists helped me build my dream store. The entire boutique is created with love. Not a single stranger played a hand in building this store. I painted, I stained, I did everything. My friends have been my biggest supporters.
“If you ever have that feeling that you can't spend the rest of your life doing what you’re…
What was it like to open in Toronto and how would you say your boutique is different from the rest?
Being in an industry where I’ve worked with a lot of boutiques and a lot of retail, it was never a question to open in Toronto, it was more so, where? But what was automatic was it had to be Queen Street. I envisioned from the beginning what I wanted to do within the neighbourhood. Because again, what I wanted was not for one consumer base.
It’s for everyone new to natural skincare or the veterans. Someone young or the older generation. And that’s why I love this neighbourhood is because you have all that.
Being natural, focusing on smaller artisans, uniqueness and just telling my story is definitely the ways I think I differ.
In general, boutiques are wonderful because of their intimate and personal settings. They cater to the individual rather than the masses.
What are some of the lines you carry and how would you describe them?
Basically, the boutique is focused on Canadian made, made in US and New Zealand. The reason why I branched those three ways, was a lot of my Canadian brands are the smaller artisans, the smaller makers and the ones who need a voice. I love that and it is my biggest passion. A good percentage of my store is Canadian and I’d love to increase that. There are so many larger US made brands but I love the more niche brands. It’s my job to find them. Ritual is my makeup line and I am the only store in Canada to sell them and it’s incredible makeup.
Many others are One Love Organic, Evenhealy. These brands are doing skincare right.
The skincare brands I carry don’t cross over each other. Each brand has their own individual highlight. That was very important to me. I didn’t want to bring in all these brands that were doing the same thing. I have about six face care brands, and they are all doing something different which is so so important.
Any person can find something, including men.
The reason why I brought in brands from New Zealand is because of the ingredients that they are using which are available in North America like; kiwi, hibiscus, Manuka honey, charcoal. They are the front runners of these ingredients.
Why do you think it’s important to use natural ingredients?
We’re so aware of what we are putting inside of our bodies, but yet our skin is our largest organ.
“So you can eat as healthy as you want to eat, but if you are putting chemicals on the outside of your body, guess where it’s going to go?”
Inside our body. It would be counteractive.
How do natural products make you feel? Do you notice a difference?
I’ve used every single eye cream. Chemical to natural. I saw the biggest change in my skin once I moved to natural. The glow, the look of my under eye—there are things you could never change.
“What natural beauty did to me was make me feel comfortable in my own skin”
It’s unfortunate how all these brands are trying to change you. Natural beauty enhances what you have. It’s so much better and it just feels right.
What do you think the key is to achieve healthy glowing skin?
Obviously having a really good routine is very important. Getting your vitamins, however, you want to get them is key. Eating your veggies, drinking a lot of water, making sure you get enough sleep.
But for skincare, wash you face at night. Moisturize. Do a good mask.
“You don’t need a lot of things. But you just need the right things.”
You don’t need to have ten things you do on a regular basis. That’s ridiculous, no one has the time for that.
A good moisturizer, cleanser and mask/scrub—your good. A lot of natural masks and scrubs are like a two-in-one. So you’re killing two birds with one stone which is amazing. One of my favourite products is the Konjac sponge: a plant-based product from Japan. When your cleansing, it supplements your face cloth or brush.
What’s your advice to anyone wanting to maintain their youthfulness?
Plant-Based products are going to help you keep the oils in your skin which in turn keep your skin looking youthful. You’re not trying to hide, remove what we naturally need.
“It’s all about feeding your skin. That is what keep you looking youthful.”
Most people believe going “natural” is ineffective or expensive. As a store owner, how do you debunk those myths?
I’m a very hands-on person. I’ll show them and ask them how do they feel? Then I show them a natural oil or cream. It’s that touch/feel experience. And then you see how little you really need. It turns out natural is a lot less expensive because you don’t need much to go a long way. You use less and everything in this world is less is more. I encourage customers not to buy a full regime right away.
Start with one thing at a time so you know what is going to work and what is not.
Let’s say you buy a full regime and something happens, a lot of people would be quick to walk away from the entire thing. Start slowly, start with whatever you need to replace at that time. So if you only need a moisturizer, at least you’ll know if it works the way you need it to.
That makes a return customer. If you’re going to buy everything at once start with one thing and then introduce others. At least your skin can get used to it.
When you go from chemical filled products to natural, your skin will go through a detox process, so you might get a breakout here or there, but you have to push through that and let your skin detox the chemicals and let it breathe.
In your expert opinion, what do you think are the 3 best things you can do for your skin?
Cleanse, moisturize, exfoliate.
What is your regimen?
You don’t need to cleanse in the morning. The only thing I would do is a scrub.
Once a week I do a mask.
Eye cream ingredients would be like fennel seed, kelp, carrot seed oil. What I personally use is something that hydrates. These are things that will help with brightness and fine lines. I don’t think everyone needs to use one but there is no harm in using one. Just make sure what you are using has the ingredients that you need and are looking for.
What would you say to the skeptics?
Do your research. It’s self-education. I can’t educate you if you don’t want to be educated. It’s on you. Testing a product isn’t enough. They need to think outside the bubble.
“Self-education. It’s on you”
If you had to choose, what would be your top 3 products or ingredients?
Ingredients mostly would be Jojoba Oil, Charcoal, Carrot seed oil for brightening internal and external. Jojoba oil is great because it’s in everything and it’s the closest oil in weight to our natural skin oils and charcoal for its versatility and detox components.
Do you believe that there will be a paradigm shift in the skincare industry?
The smaller natural guys need a voice. Most people have been so accustomed to thinking that the “seven steps” is the way to achieving the best skin possible, which has drowned out the smaller natural brands. And the smaller guys need a voice. I’ve been on that same path so it’s nice to see where others have been.
The big guys are never going away. People are becoming more aware. It started with foods, but now people are becoming more aware with skincare.
Is there anything you think Toronto lacks within the natural beauty realm and what would you like to see?
I don’t think Toronto lacks anything, to be honest. But it’s nice to know that small makers have a home. Maybe to have big beauty conventions. Maybe more markets. They are really growing and allow people to tell their story. They are promoting small brands well, which is the most important thing. It’s on each individual to make their choice.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future with The Cure?
Being in a comfortable place to talk about your issues. It’s intimate, it’s one-on-one rather than salesy. With corporate brands, you’re generally not asking anything about me. You’re telling me what the best-selling moisturizer is without knowing me and whatI need. What my favourite product is or what I rather don’t matter, We are two totally different people.
“Skincare is personal. I need to know what YOU need.”
What are some of your favorite natural skincare brands and why did you make the switch?