Everyone, meet Rebecca and Sarah, owners of Purple Urchin (handmade Natural bath and body products)
Can you tell us a bit about your workspace?
Our work space consists of 3 rooms within our shop location that total 650 square feet. The middle room is where we make most of our products. It is a bit larger than our front shop area, and contains a kitchen which is a must for making our stuff. We use our back room as a break room/storage room, and we also have the basement for storage. Production and packaging activities do sometimes spill out into the front shop area and the back break room, especially when there are three of us here all trying to make products.
Have you always been creatively driven?
Yes, we both took art all through high school, and Sarah has a fine arts degree. She was also involved in theatre and dancing from a young age and loves anything to do with cooking. I tend to put my creativity to use through landscaping, knitting, and decorating my home.
What inspires you, where do you go for ideas?
We usually come up with ideas after speaking with customers. They’ll often come up to us looking for certain products or scents, or they’ll mention ideas they have for our products. We try to listen to them and come up with products to meet their needs. We also find inspiration in other local small businesses who we are always in awe of.
What is a typical work day for you?
Since we make our products in small batches, for quality, consistently & freshness, we are constantly making & packaging things. So, someone is in the kitchen area at all times working away. Plus, from marketing and social media to designing labels and research, everything is done by us in house.
How do you approach each project you work on?
Research, research, research and definitely persistence.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
We have our official Grand Opening on June 10th from 1-4, so lately we’ve been busy getting everything ready for it! Farmers’ Market season is also in full swing, so we want to make sure we are stocked full of every product we offer. We always have an expanding list of new product ideas to try out and since sometimes it’s trial and error coming up with a new recipe, we are constantly testing new things on ourselves. It can take a while to get a recipe just right, so we always have something up our sleeves.
What has been the most interesting or exciting project you’ve worked on and why?
Recently we’ve teamed up with Underpants Up! a local charity spearheaded by Kate Headley that collects life basic necessities for Ottawa’s shelters. We have a deal on soap where if you buy 4 bars you get one free. If you decide to donate your free bar to Underpants Up! we will donate a fresh new pair of underwear as well. It’s a pay-it-forward kind of idea that’s working out really well so far. We’re excited every time someone donates a bar! Also, being animal lovers, we have come up with a new product line for pets which includes Shampooch, our solid shampoo bar for dogs; Fur Sure, our spray on pet coat conditioner; and Paw Balm, our pet paw protector and moisturizer. We are happy to say that 10% of the proceeds from our pet product sales go towards local animal shelters in need :)
What do you love most about what you do?
We love creating! It’s always like Christmas around here when we get a package full of new ingredients delivered and can immediately start to “play” with them.
What do you want to do in the future?
We love the idea of staying small & local but would love to expand our current store hours and product line, so stay tuned!
portraits done by Magida El-Kassis
Come by Saturday June 23 and Sunday June 24 to the Lovely Ladies: Women’s Small Business Fair to meet them and buy some of her handmade Soaps!
Location: 100 Tallwood Drive at the new City of Ottawa Archives Building.