You know what the end of summer needs? A giveaway. Dedicated to your face and bod. RW chat with Northlore Goods maker and botanical guru, Natassia Brazeau. This Prairie maiden concocts addictive, magical body care from the heart of Canada, harvesting wildcrafted, homegrown and organic materials. Her brand's motive is to honour the space she comes from; a space that offers unbelievable beauty, wisdom and potential for healing potions. It's so refreshing to hear someone speak so appreciatively about where she comes from. You will totally have a crush on her and her products after reading the Q+A below.
If you want your skin to feel fresh and clean, and you want to bring a little more daily magical oomph to your life, let me introduce the plains mud mask and the cleansing grains. The smell is so light and fresh and it made my skin feel so clean and smooth! The Yarrow + Lavender cleansing grains reveal black grains when wet - totally surprising me for my first use in the shower since the powder is a light vanilla-like hue. The surprise in change of colour felt really special and made my entire - usually monotonous shower - extra special and more mindful.
I've taken to sitting in the tub with a glass of wine just testing new ways to use the Plains Mud Mask. The bottle suggests adding water, honey or yogurt. My suggestion would be plain greek yogurt as it makes the mask creamier. When used with honey it never dries fully, but it did make my skin feel great. And of course, water is a no brainer. I even put the Northlore soaps to the test by using them as a shaving bar. Not disappointed. Check out Natassia's other products here, and read below for a sneak peek into her wholesome life in the prairies.
ROGUE WOOD'S NORTHLORE GOODS GIVEAWAY
The little package above is up for grabs! Let's renew your tired medicine cabinet, hmm? Featuring the Plains Mud Mask, Yarrow + Lavender cleansing grains, and the Wild Rose + Mint soap, RW is featuring a giveaway via instagram. Check out the information on insty and share the image or one of Northlore's images for your chance to win! Don't forget to use the hashtag #roguewoodgoodies if you want to win. The contest closes tonight at 10PM central time. One lucky bunny will receive the three goodies. Thanks Natassia!
Q + A with Northlore Goods owner, Natassia Brazeau
Rogue Wood: Tell me a little about the maiden behind Northlore Goods. Who is this whimsical creature?
Natassia Brazeau: Ha, I suppose I do feel a bit whimsical when I’m, say, filling a basket with wildflowers on a Wednesday afternoon! I am a fairly independent, solitary soul and I was inspired to start Northlore as a response to my desire for a thoughtful, autonomous, and creative pursuit. My interests have always surrounded putting a modern, personal spin on heritage skills, such as soap making, fermenting, knitting, and preserving garden veggies, that are closely tied to the land. I’m not the crunchy, hippie type but I would say that I am an earthy person, grounded in place and aware of the rhythms of my body in relation to the cycles of the moon.
RW: The northern prairies really seem to inspire your products, not only in the ingredients but in the design as well. What’s so special about this Canadian zone?
NB: There is a subtle but profound beauty here that I think is lost on the uninitiated. Those who are unfamiliar with this region tend to dismiss it for lacking, and yet an exploration of the prairies unveils a vast and varied landscape, and a boreal forest rich with plant life and biodiversity. We tend to view this region as empty, and monoculture farming has surely furthered this assumption, yet the pockets of remaining native grassland, the low rolling hills, lakes, and thick, wild, forests contain these rugged, expansive vistas unlike anywhere else. The prairies give us room to breathe.
RW: Your whole line has this really magical undertone. Is that on purpose?
NB: I have been captivated by ancient apothecaries, folklore practices, and herbal medicine making, and have adopted many traditional and occasionally mystical modalities as a result. For instance, I lunar infuse many of my botanicals into oil, an ancient process where the jars sit outside for a full moon cycle, allowing the energy of the moonlight to naturally extract the medicinal properties of the plants. Honoring the process of these methods, and committing time to them, serves to connect me further to the land, and there is a mystical element to that connection that I’ll often allude to. By highlighting our historical relationship to the plants, I aim to impart a sense of the wonder and magic of the natural world. I’m so pleased that you can feel it!
RW: How was Northlore Goods born?
NB: Northlore was a culmination of my interests in wildcrafting and natural body care, and a desire to represent the prairies with high quality products that would remind us of our kinship with the surrounding plant life. I majored in Political Theory in university, which led me down an unpredictable path toward creativity and self-sufficiency, and I graduated believing that the most political thing I can do is to participate in and promote a local economy. Northlore was born from this political philosophy, and an independent streak that runs throughout my family’s lineage of entrepreneurialism. Many relatives on both side of my family have found various ways and means to be their own bosses, so when I graduated without any job prospects (who didn’t see that coming), I decided that I would try to create a career for myself that could incorporate my ethics and the lifestyle that I knew I wanted to live.
RW: Your products made my face feel so good. And I’m actually addicted to their natural but soothing scent. Do you have a favourite product?
NB: Thank you for saying so, I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying them! My favorite product is currently the Yarrow + Lavender Cleansing Grains. They are a delicate, nourishing mix of exfoliating botanicals, and powders that make a lovely self-care ritual to treat your skin with at the end of a long day.
RW: I have to tell you, I felt more magical just using your products. When using the cleansing grains, I did not expect the tiny black grains to appear when I added water or honey. I literally squealed in the shower when it first happened. It was like a little potion. How does that happen?
NB: The exfoliating grains and botanicals are hidden by clay and powder, so when you add liquid they are rinsed and magically revealed!
RW: Your website makes me feel like you live in the middle of a forest right beside a teeming river in a quaint little cottage, looking out over a golden prairie field with like, a talking Golden Retriever by your side. Please tell me my fairytale image is not wrong...
NB: Haha, if only! We do have the friendliest old dog though, as well as three cats, a few beehives, and a little brood of chickens. My husband and I are now living on the acreage that I grew up on. We renovated the tiny loft above my parent’s barn and occupy the yard space across from their home. Moving back onto this land that I explored as a child, and gaining further knowledge of the native plant species here was a big inspiration when I dreamed up Northlore. My mom loves to garden and I rely on her established herb garden for stocking my apothecary, as well as a generous neighbor and greenthumb who has started many obscure, native plant varieties for me in her greenhouse. We’re a crafty bunch here and on any given weekend you can find one of us brewing beer, making cheese, or crafting wooden furniture, like a regular old homestead! It’s an inspiring place to be and I am treasuring this time before we outgrow the space.
RW: Your products are all super natural, but are they super easy to make? What’s the process like for you?
NB: The wildcrafting is my favourite element and most of the products start with plants that I harvest from the wilderness or from our herb gardens. From there I will infuse the botanicals into oil, dry them, or steam distill them. With these preparations at hand, there is a lengthy process of researching, experimenting, and testing involved. Once I determine the final recipe, most of the products come together quite quickly.
Soap making, however, is a tedious process. I made the choice to use tallow in my soaps in place of palm oil because of the environmental impact of palm oil extraction. In order for that tallow to be an ethical, sustainable choice, I hand-render most of it myself. I receive fat that would otherwise be trashed as a byproduct of local organic beef farming, and then melt it down and strain it to render a white, odorless tallow that crafts a premium bar of soap. I am ethically invested in this choice, yet if I ever question what I do it is done while melting down a giant pot of fat!
RW: Where do you want to take Northlore Goods? What can we look forward to in the future?
NB: I am regularly dreaming up new ideas for wildcrafted products as I continue to build up my apothecary, so you can anticipate some new home goods this fall in addition to a couple of new body products made with Saskatchewan sourced, ancient mineral salts. Depending on the honey yield from our bees this year, I would love to release a line of infused honeys. The combination of raw honey and herbs is a powerful traditional medicine and I have been experimenting with some delicious flavours.
Further into the future, I’ve been dreaming up ways to create more of a community surrounding what I do. This could mean workshops, or wildcrafting trips where a number of people are involved in bringing a product to light. I also have a goal of getting Northlore into major cities across Canada this year, and I’m excited to be almost there!
RW: Aside from the prairies, is there any thing or person that really inspires you and this line?
NB: I have recently been reading journals and books by people who have lived remotely in the wilderness, as well as books on indigenous plant knowledge, all of which inspire me as I further my understanding of what it means to live in relationship with the land. I’m also inspired by other wild crafts, such as indigenous basket making, where every component of a tree is used and nothing goes to waste
RW: As a foraging little girl out in the wilderness, was there any one treasure you found that was incredibly memorable?
NB: There isn’t a single treasure that stands out but I have a fond memory of my mom teaching me what rosehips are and that they are edible. Although the taste wasn’t particularly delicious, I remember the sense of wonder I felt of learning that rosehips are the fruit of wild roses. The transformation captivated me, and I suppose moments like that were how my naturalist sensibilities took root.
RW: Can you share a day-in-the-life of Ms Natassia Brazeau? (such a storybook name)
NB: I wish I had a healthy, inspiring routine to share, but every day turns out to be a bit different from the last. I’ll often have to drop everything if I notice something is ready to harvest, occasionally taking day trips to the northern forest to wildcraft. Right now I’m in the thick of harvesting herbs from the garden and stringing them up in bunches or on racks to dry. Apart from this season’s garden work, a typical day will include soap making, packing orders, and far more computer work than I would have expected. My days are full and as I focus on building Northlore, the business is always on my mind. I’m grateful for the flexibility and freedom it affords me though, and am enjoying the opportunity to pay close attention to the cycle of the seasons, and to have the privilege of working within that rhythm.