Looking back over your life, who are the people that have influenced your path the most? Sometimes these people are of great significance, like a grandmother or grandfather. Sometimes these people come into your life only for a fleeting yet potent moment. And sometimes these people have always been there but their presence and support become more and more apparent over time. We grow up to think that our story is our own little world inside of our minds but as time goes on we come to realise that our story is not ours alone but is deeply interconnected with everyone else who is a part of our lives. Our personal story is but one unique and beautiful perspective of our collective story.
The founders of Wellington Apothecary, Jemma, Laura and I, came to live on a hill overlooking the Whaingaroa harbour. Jemma and Laura in the gorgeous yet ram-shackled house that was once a cow shed, then the original workshop of Soul Shoes and then a home. I lived in the house truck in the garden. We were embraced by the raw beauty of the landscape and enjoyed living a simple life in a thriving little West Coast village. Jemma and I worked together at the Herbal Dispensary. Many years prior to this Jemma had worked at Neals Yard Remedies in Edinburgh from which her experience in manufacturing, herbal formula dispensing and inspiration for quality plant based remedies bloomed.
Before moving to Raglan, Jemma and Laura had begun manufacturing the first product, what we now call Frankincense Nourishing Skin Balm, in the commercial kitchen of Homestead Health on Cuba Street. This is the very same kitchen that we now call our manufacturing mezzanine in Wellington Apothecary. Frankincense Balm was created for dry, cracked or eczema prone skin. Not only did it need to be therapeutically effective, it needed to utilize the best quality ingredients, it needed to be formulated with precision, and it needed to honour the elegance and sophistication of traditional plant medicine. All of these requirements set the foundation and philosophy from which Wellington Apothecary is built on today.
We all have backgrounds in herbal medicine and together we dreamed about one day having our own herbal dispensary, so as to be free to create our own business grounded in an ethos of simplicity, creativity, integrity, sustainability and collective support. We always knew there was another way of doing it, a way where everyone involved has the opportunity to cultivate their innate talents, a way that reintroduces the virtues of plant medicine to the world, and a way that honours our roots as herbalists, caretakers of the earth. We knew that this was possible, we just didn’t know when, how, or where, until sometime in the winter of 2013. The stars aligned and we decided to come together to create our collective dream.
On April 1st 2014 we opened Wellington Apothecary at 76 Ghuznee Street. The first few years were naturally the toughest, sleeping on friends couches, living on sardines and cabbage, walking everywhere, every day, rain, hail or shine, because even a bus fare was out of the budget. We could not have even got started, let alone made it through to where we are now, were it not for the enthusiasm from our friends and families. It is beyond the confines of words to even express our gratitude for their enduring and unwavering support. With an encouraging community surrounding us we were able to keep the apothecary open 7 days a week while also diving into our own personal endeavours: Laura began her Naturopathic degree, Jemma began growing her baby (now her 4 year old son Hunter), and I began my Anthropology degree.
Looking back now I can see that what we were doing may have seemed completely mad, but somehow we made it through because on some level we knew that we were creating something beyond our imagination, something that wanted to exist. We would often be told, “Wow, you’re so brave. How did you know that this was possible?” And we would say, it was mostly out of sheer inspiration and blatant naivety that we were able make this happen, because if we had known how hard it was going to be we probably would have thought twice about the whole thing. Despite the steep learning curve there has always been an underlying sense that this was rite of passage into a new way of living. Now at our 5th year anniversary we are experiencing the a reality that is far beyond what we could have imagined in the beginning.
We had become quite accustomed to our quirky little apothecary cave on Ghuznee Street. However, after two years we were offered our current space on Cuba Street, naturally, we felt right at home there, as if it were all meant to be. Much of our story is a serendipitous unfolding, our efforts aside, it feels almost as if this place wants to exist of its own volition. We have been blessed with positive and supportive landlords, as well as amazingly talented colleagues. Like honeybees to a flower our wonderful team of women have so elegantly gravitated into our space. With their innate talents they have made, and continue to make, Wellington Apothecary a sophisticated living breathing organism. If you do not know who these wonder women are then head to our website, in the OUR PEOPLE section, for a closer look.
We offer our sincerest gratitude to all of you unique people that make Wellington Apothecary what it is today and of course that includes the support of our devoted customers. To those of you that have supported us from the very beginning, we bow to you. You know who you are. You understand that as small business owners we are real human beings and are not simply trying to sell you something. You understand our deep urge to create something pure and valuable, and you resonate with the lifestyle that we are aspiring to cultivate. We are here to share our knowledge and expertise so that you may thrive, so that we all may thrive together. We are here for the long-term relationship. To those of you that are yet to know us, we wish for you to follow your curiosity in all aspects of your life, seek the knowledge that you need to make your life beautiful. And when you do, share your wisdom with someone else in need of inspiration. This is how our personal and collective stories intertwine and come alive.