Jill Sarmento and Gina Browning of East Providence’s Curious Nature Apothecary share both a friendship and a business partnership rooted in their communal love for nature and self-care. Their line of all-natural aromatic oils, scrubs, serums, butters and balms soothes not only the skin but also the soul. Jill and Gina took a moment to fill us in on the benefits of botanical skin care and their own favorite rituals.
How did you two get your start turning your love for nature and self-care into a business?
It was honestly a very organic process. Using our knowledge of ingredients and formulation led to creating, which led to questions, which led to more learning and more experimenting and more formulation and so on. We were enjoying the process and had the great advantage of knowing some lovely, supportive local business owners who gave us a little nudge to get our product line to market.
What’s it like being both longtime friends and business partners?
Great! It’s a pleasure to work with someone you admire, respect and have fun with. If there’s any disadvantage, it would be our tendency to get a little off track during our work time, using our time to just socialize and hang out. But when we’re both complicit in that, we can kind of scold each other, forgive each other and just move on.
What are the benefits of all-natural products?
What we truly adore about working with and using ingredients from nature is the exceptional quality of their textures, colors and aromas. For the skin, plant oils offer a wealth of beneficial fatty acids and vitamins to promote softness, while plant butters and beeswax can help form an occlusive barrier on the skin to help prevent against moisture loss. We always stress knowing your allergies and choosing products carefully, whether natural or conventional.
What kind of local ingredients do you use in your products?
We love sourcing locally whenever we can. We use some beautiful botanicals like calendula and lavender flowers, as well as beeswax and honey from local bees.
How do you get the ideas for different products?
We tend to have the most fun and get the most creative when formulating and blending the aromatic aspect of our products. Our solid perfume line was inspired by our love of vintage novels and fashions, especially [from] the Edwardian and Victorian eras. Aiming to create a sense of place and personality for each perfume helps them to feel specific, yet unique.
What are some must-haves?
We’ve been told our Avocado & Lime Lip Balm is addictive, though each of our lip balms has a little niche of fans. Our Juice & Juniper Body Oil is another customer favorite.
Do you think you’ll ever invest in a storefront location?
We relocated to a larger space fairly recently. It won’t ever be a storefront, but we hope to start offering some open-studio shopping days on a regular basis, as well as special events and workshops. We do have a place that customers can visit for events or occasionally by appointment.
Tell us about your favorite self-care ritual.
Like many people, we’re quite busy, so the things that work best on a regular basis tend to be brief but impactful. Five or ten minutes of mindfulness meditation does a world of good at any time of day, and a little quiet time in nature is always restorative. Wearing a favorite aromatic oil or natural perfume and taking a couple of minutes throughout the day to reapply and breathe deeply is super simple, soothing and grounding.
Curious Nature Apothecary
11 Dexter Road, East Providence
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