Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Featured Artist: Eryn Hughes of Apothecary Muse

Eryn Hughes, of Apothecary Muse, is our featured artist from March 9-15, 2016.

Please stop by, enjoy our window featuring her products, and check out her items in person. She shared the following information with us and we hope you enjoy learning about her and her work, in her own words.

Figure 4 Handmade Arcade 2015: bringing the outdoors inside in the midst of Winter.  Photo Courtesy of Joey Kennedy

I like to find inspiration in nature and share it.  This philosophy touches upon every sense that we experience as humans: sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing.  Over the years, while my soapmaking was just a hobby, I worked in the bicycle industry as a mechanic, coach, and advocate.  I remember attending a trails conference where the speaker said that when he “paddled with others in nature, he observed nature”… and when he “paddled alone…[he] was nature.”  I’ve also found these solo adventures to give new context to my decisions and sense of purpose in life. (fig. 1)

Figure 1 Product testing in action: mountain biking in Frick Park, testing a thermal skin balm in sub-zero temperatures – crossing multiple barriers. 

Later, I worked in outreach with food access and the music industry, bringing resources to people that would otherwise have barriers.  It was on a section hike along the Pacific Crest Trail that I considered the possibilities of designing a business model around my philosophy.  The demands of back country exploration has inspired me to incorporate medicinal herbs and aromatherapy into Apothecary Muse products that are used everyday, especially by those who spend time outside.  The environmental impact of single use plastics is significant, by and I seek to reduce that with plantable paper soap labels, compostable paperboard tubes for lip balm and deodorant, and reusable glass or tin jars and bottles.  I won’t buy any new plastic.  I test everything I make and have a team of brand ambassadors who are extremely active in the outdoors that also give feedback on seasonal products, although often I’m reusing plastic containers for my own testing. (fig. 2)

Figure 2 Product testing on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail: handmade ceramic diffuser, woodsy warrior soap, bug repellent candle, deodorant, toothpaste, sunscreen and lip balm.

These days, I plan my adventures around possibilities for foraging, exploring new places and environmental risks, while balancing skin care needs with herbal infusions and aromatherapy.  I study herbalism with Sage Mountain and aromatherapy with Aromahead, and I'm a regular at my local library consulting Eastern and Ayurvedic Medicine texts to find parallels in philosophies that I might use in my product development.  There is so much to learn and I believe these skills in sustainability and self-sufficiency will be rewarding for many years to come.

Figure 3 Farm To Table: Teaching how to make soap.

And since I believe information can be empowering, I have sought my teaching certification and now offer classes.  The next one is coming up on March 18th at 10:30am at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, in the Farm to Table Conference and further upcoming learning opportunities can be found on the SoapGuild Teacher Guide.   I aim to bring nature to the people - or people to nature - in a very intimate way.  

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