For business owners Molly Watman and Emma Graves, skin, the body’s largest organ, is the real window to your soul.
“We see your skin as exhibiting what’s going on inside your body,” said Watman, whose handmade, botanic-based products — as well as the store’s other goodies, “all address what’s inside, the state of your heart and mind.”
Watman and Graves are the women behind Windsor Terrace’s newest herbal skincare oasis, the Brooklyn Herborium at 1301 Prospect Avenue and Greenwood Avenue.
The Brooklyn Herborium took up residence in the blue, vinyl sided apartment building on Prospect Avenue, but not without months of renovations. And though the shop has been open for a little more than one week, Watman and Graves, who also live in the neighborhood, are already making a name for themselves.
“My two-year-old is the most social one in the playground, so I’ve been meeting everyone,” said Graves, with a joyful, toothy grin and sharp, blue eyes.
As we toured around the sunny storefront and herb workshop last week, the front door chimes rang steadily with friends and passersby coming in to chat.
Motherhood is an essential part of the owner’s lives, and they’re not afraid to incorporate family into their business model. “Workplaces are anti-family and thus anti-women,” said Watman, with her 6-month-old son Conrad stealing grins at us from his perch.
This is the skincare duo’s second Herborium — their Carroll Gardens store, which opened in 2013, was their first destination for personalized facials and signature product line of oils, mists, deodorant, mouth oil, baby products, sprays, and herbal teas designed to support elimination. Their products are entirely free of artificial chemicals, preservatives, petroleum, and parabens.
Their partnership has evolved around both women’s complementary talents, with Watman as the brand-master and design whiz, helping to codify recipes and create visual aids for customers and students from their apprenticeship program — no trademark required.
“It’s about spreading this way of caring for yourself,” she said, pointing to the dizzying row of bins and wicker baskets labeled with herbs and tinctures.
Graves, the shop’s master herbalist, has been a licensed esthetician since 2004 and cut her teeth at a variety of salons before starting her own botanic-based product line in 2008, Between You & The Moon.
“I’m the punster,” said Graves, as we browse through display bottles or “Cow Fart Goo” (infused oils to heal the perineum after childbirth, $14); “Anti-Yucky Spray” (surface-safe antibacterial spray, $12); and “Pity Party” (aluminum & chemical-free deodorant, $18).
Graves grew up in the foothills of the Adirondacks, and her commitment to clean living reflects her bucolic upbringing. “My grandfather was a small town doctor, using herbal medicine from my Grandma’s garden,” she said, pointing to cream bottles named after the family matriarchs.
“Close your eyes and hold out your hands,” she tells me, before carefully applying three drops of oil into my cupped palm. Then, she spritzed a lavender mist-solution that I chose by smell. Skincare is personal, and Graves takes care to address each person’s skincare needs, ailments, and lifestyle habits, hand mixing ingredients on-the-spot. (I’ve been applying the mixture to my face every morning since — and my skin has gotten noticeably smoother and less dry.)
And since their newest Windsor Terrace workshop is more spacious, they’ve added a store for all the “foods that feed your skin”, like ghee, locally sourced meats, and safe household products, and of course animal puppets for the kids.
“This is a way we can help people’s internal functions,” said Watman, “and also bring joy and good sustenance to our neighborhood.”
Check out the Brooklyn Herborium on the web, or stop by during their open hours: Tuesday–Friday 3pm to 8pm; Saturday 10am to 6pm; Sunday 1pm to 6pm.