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.

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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.”

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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’!!”

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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!!”

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Top 5 Pittsburgh Holiday Homemade Gifts

As I prepare for formal interviews and research for Pittsburgh based homemade makers, I figured an obligatory holiday gift list was in order. Now, for last minute’s sake, these are found on etsy and are mostly pre-made which is great because -no waiting! They are all Pittsburgh handcrafted, of course (because that is what we are all about here) and gift appropriate.

Pittsburgh Pottery’s Gumbands Mug

Now is there anything more Pittsburgh than a dialect mug? The answer: Yes, a Pittsburgh made dialect mug. Also, on the shop are mugs with other Pittsburgh famous “words” such as my personal favorite, slippy!

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Strawberry Luna’s Screenprint shop

Beautiful, modern, creative designs are available from the shop. They have prints, posters, Christmas cards, lunch bags, t-shirts and rock posters! THe Pittsburgh bridge print, shown on their homepage is a wonderful salute to the City of Bridges, of course made here, in Pittsburgh. Would Andy Warhol be proud? We probably will never know, but I surely think that these screen prints testify to the impact he had on the Pittsburgh community.

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Etta Arlene’s Witty Occasion Candles

With scents such as “Man” and “Boss Bitch”, Etta Arlene’s shop is sure to win someone over in your life. There are also more toned down scent names such as “Merry Christmas” and “Best Friend”, however, her options go as far as a candles for bridesmaids and parents. They literally have a candle for everyone. Wrapped in a hip and chic design, they list that they use US grown soy bean for their candles. Etta Arlene is run by two sisters, Etta and Arlene.

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Nevermore Body Company

When I am totally unsure of what to get someone, I typically default to body products. Not because I am personally such a sucker for them, but because everyone uses them and even if they do not need them right now, they will someday! I love finding really unique body products and I dabble in making my own now and again but supporting someone else’s small business is really what I strive for this time of year.

Nevermore Body Company has some really unique products. My favorite, the whiskey aftershave, is such a great gift for a dad or brother. On the shop is also a bar of soap called, “Lump of Coal”. Lump of Coal is a soap stick. I thought, “What the heck is a soap stick?” It is a bar of soap in a deodorant tube! I am so in love with this concept. I use bars of soap but they melt easily when wet. This entirely solves the problem. There are also bath bombs, gift sets, fragrance oils and so much more.

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KloRebel’s Designs

I could not praise the beautiful designs of Kirsten Lowe-Rebel, creator of KloRebel, enough. They are artistic and breathtaking. She sells beautifully designed views of Pittsburgh printed onto pillows, hand towels, decor and so much more. She also produces many other designs that are not Pittsburgh. For example, you can custom order a design she will create or you. Beautiful, custom art, made in Pittsburgh!

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Creating this list was so so hard. There are so many talented people in Pittsburgh creating beautiful things. I am so excited to start spending time getting to know and promoting some of these talented artists. Please also take a look at a few honorary mentions: White Swan StudioNaked Geometry.

Happy Winter Solstice and enjoy your holiday! Check back soon!