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Website Launch

I have been pushed back but the official site will be here in a few short days. What would you enjoy to see on the new site?

I am so excited to make this announcement and will update you when the site is finished.

Cattail Apothecary

Aesthetically perfect. Every image of Cattail Apothecary is an intrinsic example of what I want to promote. Carefully picked bits of nature are in each photo to beautifully showcase her products. She has many cosmetic items available in her shop, but much more than that. So. much. more. What I am most excited about is the variety of tinctures she has! Recently, I have been taking elderberry syrup to boost my immune system and it really works. She has a tincture for that! She also has a ginger tincture, headache tincture, and so many more.


So I asked Rebecca Hildrew, shop owner a few questions over the last few weeks and after interviewing her, I decided it was best to copy the entire interview here. She has a great personality and voice and I could not do her responses any justice. So without further ado, my first interview for Pittsburgh Handmade:

What was your greatest inspiration for starting your store and what is your overall goal?

“Plants obviously. It’s extraordinary what nature provides for us. I don’t think many people realize how many of the ingredients in their medicines and skincare is plant derived.  However, much of the magic is lost in the way that science has pinpointed and isolated specific constituents. This has been necessary and wonderful for some of the things we rely on to get and remain healthy but it’s also nice to step back when possible and look at the plant as a whole. My goal has been to incorporate whole plants into my daily body care and health support, and through the shop, share those findings. You’ll never hear me saying that herbs take the place of seeing a doctor, but I think they should be looked to more, not as an alternative, but as an integrated support system.

As for skincare, read the list of ingredients on a few things in the bathroom cabinet…can you even tell what half that stuff is? Why? Why would we want to let all of those weird things leech into our skin?  But there are a lot of other options out there, and it would be easy for me to get a hold of dozens of alternatives without making it myself but one thing I found is the scents tend to all be the same; lots of lavender and florals. Not my cup of tea. So I set out to makes my own line of natural, plant-based products with scents that were more in line with my own preferences, earthy, woodsy and spicy.”


What is your favorite product you sell?

“This is a hard question. Since developing them, I have not gone a day without the face oil, cuticle balm, or Rosehips & Honey under eye balm as part of my routine. The “Breath of the Dragon” tonic (yes it’s a silly name, but drama in the herbal world has forced this on me) and Drink Your Vitamins tea have also become daily staples. Don’t make me choose just one of these, I’ll go down fightin’!!”


What does your creative process look like?

“Lots and lots of books and notebooks. Stacks of references and sticky notes. While messy, it’s certainly not the same kind of mess that my painting process creates. There’s a lot of research that goes into the development of new product, lots of reading before I even get to get my hands dirty with the plant matter. When I do get around to actually making the stuff it’s a well-choreographed disaster. I typically have 4+ products on the broilers at once. I have a 14-month old son, so getting time to create is limited and every second must be used wisely. By the time I’m through, every bit of equipment I own is coated with oils and waxes, but at least it all smells amazing!!”

Winter Blues

I have been really struggling with the cold this winter. I am one of those people who never gets cold. Ever. For some reason, this winter, I am freeing! The week after the holidays is especially depressing. I took my tree down and now it is so gloomy. So what to do? Well, in my humble opinion, self pampering is the best cure to winter blues. I do not know of a better way to pamper myself then to take a bubble bath with as many self care products as possible. Bath salts, salt scrubs, bath bombs, and a really good body butter to use when I get out. So here is the thing, I love buying these things local, but I also love making them myself. The second best way to pamper myself when I am feeling down is to take on a hobby.

Serious self care equation:

Create a series of awesome bath products + take a bath with self-made products =a healthy me

I know this seems to contradict the purpose of this blog, but seriously, I want everyone to create and expand themselves. Maybe you will be the next person I interview?

Instructions for winter blues concoctions:

Body butter is so simple to make. It is simply whipping oils. You can literally add coconut oil to your kitchen aid and within minutes, it turns into a silky smooth butter. Add your favorite essential oil and voila! Body butter. I like to add a mix of oils and aloe vera. My skin is a little oily so I like to add something with water content. Lotion is a slightly different process and does contain water. However, due to lack of preservatives, homemade lotion has a shorter shelf life than body butter.

Salt scrubs are simply oils and salt. You can become really creative with these and they are lots of fun. Sugar scrubs are the same and are a blast to make. Bath bombs are a little more intense and I will link a tutorial at the end. You will need a bath bomb mold and some citric acid which can be found on amazon or Pat Catan’s.

Find out how to make bath bombs here.

Series Schedule

So I am trying to gauge interest in topics and would love to hear your feedback. I am beginning with cosmetics (with a slight slant into wellness). After I wrap that up, I wanted to focus on art for a while. Would it be beneficial to you, as readers, to learn about products all at once, or to do it in intermittently?

I would love to hear your thoughts as I develop a schedule of interviews. Also, what do you use the most and would love to find locally? I will find it for you, trust me!

Looking forward to the coming weeks!

Pittsburgh Made Cosmetics

I visited the shop Sunny Bridge in Peters Township recently and I discovered so many great local products. I purchased a multipurpose cleaner made in Pittsburgh by a company called Naturally Clean. It literally smelled like Christmas! (And I love Christmas scents). They had other innovative scents that I would also recommend checking out. Seriously, check them out. Yes, I know this is a cosmetics post and I am going on a tangent but trust me, it is worth mentioning as soon as possible.

Anyways, I also noticed some locally made cosmetics at Sunny Bridge and became inspired to find more Pittsburgh based (more) mass produced cosmetic companies. I feel like the focus of this blog is to stay as small and local as possible but growing business is a success for local folks of our city and that is worth celebrating and sharing, right?

Una Biologicals were the first cosmetics that caught my eye during my visit to Sunny Bridge. They have a simple, appealing design and a nice variety of items. Based in Lawrenceville, they also sell products to many locations throughout the city. Their products are also available in many boutiques across the nation as well. What I really love about their expansion is that they have kept their products in small local shops and boutiques. They truly are a green business to their core. Their products have an emphasis on organic, natural production and are made with less than 8 ingredients. My favorite products they sell are from the wellness collection. They make a natural vapor rub, poison ivy spray, muscle rub, and natural hand sanitizer.

Now Una Biologicals makes homemade deodorant but there is also a company started in Cranberry that was founded solely on deodorant. Stinkbug Naturals is a much larger and less locally focussed company that has become a huge success by selling natural deodorant. They are available in Whole Foods and even Giant Eagles. Another local company available at your supermarket is Simple Sugars. Simple Sugars is a company that was started to help with sensitive skin. Her products are made with few ingredients and have yet another focus on natural living.

See the trend? Shopping local is so green and is so much better for you. Check back soon and I will have that first interview I promised.

Hang Tight!

Starting interviews this week and I am so excited! I am beginning with beauty and cosmetic products made here in Pittsburgh of course. I hope to collect as many interviews as possible and then after that series is over, I hope to proceed with an art series.

If you have anything you would like to know about before a series is over, contact me! I would love to hear your input. I will update each week with the progress and what is to come. This week, we will have a detailed article about an apothecary business from here in Pittsburgh. Stay tuned!