The bathtub that launched a homegrown apothecary business? It's not as far-fetched as it sounds.
For Briar Winters, the woman behind the lower Manhattan-based online apothecary shop Marble & Milkweed, a transformative soak in the claw foot tub of an East Village masseuse inspired a search for an apartment with a tub of her own. Briar placed an ad on Craigslist, and in a twist of fate that seems reserved for life in New York City, she got a message listing an available tenement-style walkup replete with exactly the kind of kitchen tub she was after. Little did she know, this tub would become the inspiration for a career change and a homegrown business.
A pastry chef by training—Briar worked at the storied Swedish restaurant Aquavit for years—she immediately got in the habit of taking a nightly bath to relieve her sore muscles after a long night at work.
Influenced by her background in Scandanavian pastry, Briar blended her favorite flavors from the kitchen—rose and cardamom and vanilla—into products designed to be nourishing in a different way. Her botanical-based remedies soothed her achy shoulders and eventually, what began as experiments in her own wellness became experiments in sharing her concoctions with others. Sugary scrubs were some of her earliest products (See: Marble & Milkweed: Rose & Chamomile Facial Scrub), followed by the blended teas, nourishing body oils, serums and perfumes for sale today in her online shop.
Photographs by Erin Boyle.
Above: Briar in her studio.
Briar's ingredients are certified organic and fair trade and heavily inspired by the garden. Briar's been in New York City for 12 years but grew up in Washington State with an apple orchard and family garden. Here in New York, she and her boyfriend maintain an 8-by-5-foot garden plot in the East Village where Briar's currently working on a native plants project with one of the garden's founders.
In March of 2013, Briar moved her home operation into a devoted studio space. Almost a year later, the studio continues to be a bustling space for concocting and packaging the ever-expanding line of Marble & Milkweed products. On the day I visited it smelled like the ginger and mint tea. And later? The ginger, rose, and cardamom Briar mixed for a specially blended bath salt. Stay tuned for the DIY coming later today.
Above: Briar Winters at work with her mortar and pestle.
Above: Bottles await sterilization.
Above: Samples from the Marble & Milkweed collection.
Above: Amber bottles of Nourishing Body Oil ($28 for a 2-ounce bottle).
Above: A shade for protecting light-sensitive concoctions. Briar also sells the Glass Tea Pot; $48.
Above: Every studio needs a proper tea cart. We're especially fond of the seeded eucalyptus and succulents keeping the teapot company.
Above: Briar in the studio, braids tucked elegantly out of her way.
Above: An inspiration board of sorts with printed Instagrams, including a shot of the bathtub that started it all (second from Left).
Above: String lights and sheer curtains warm up Briar's industrial workspace.
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