Rooted in Purity: The Om Apothecary Story

Rooted in Purity: The Om Apothecary Story
Did you know all Om Organics products are made using traditional methods in our very own apothecary? Located in downtown Invermere, BC, our beautifully renovated historic building showcases the Om Organics' line of natural skincare products, and it’s also where our founder Kari Asselin formulates everything from scratch using only high-quality, plant-based ingredients.

For those who can’t make it to Invermere, read on to learn where Om’s special brand of alchemy happens and how being rooted in purity lets us deliver on our promise of creating skincare products that are as ethical as they are effective.

The apothecary tradition

Found on the main streets of small towns and near hospitals, apothecaries were often family-run establishments headed by an herbalist or chemist (better known today as a pharmacist) who manufactured and dispensed compounds traditionally made from plants, minerals, and other natural substances to treat various ailments and provide health and wellness benefits.

Distinguished by shelves lined with glass bottles and jars that could be seen by the public eye, the apothecary usually included an area in the back, where herbs, roots, and other botanicals were distilled for their healing oils or preserved and diluted to form a tincture.

And while drug stores and pharmacies have taken over the dispensing of modern medicine and pharmaceuticals, apothecaries still exist, with many traditional practices still in place.

A perfect example is Om Organics’ very own apothecary, where our customized natural skincare products are formulated, manufactured, dispensed, and displayed.

From kitchen sink to cozy downtown shop

Before Om Organics apothecary came to be, founder Kari Asselin worked on her formulations in her home kitchen. It wasn’t uncommon to see pots bubbling on the stove, mixing bowls taking over the kitchen counter and bottles refilled over the sink. That all changed when Kari’s husband, Davin, suggested they look for a place where Kari could make her products and sell them all under one roof.

"It was my husband who brought my vision to life. I wanted to have a commercial space to make products, but he suggested that we look for a combined storefront and commercial space, which kicked it up a notch," says Kari.

After securing a 2,400 sq. ft. space in one of downtown Invermere’s oldest buildings, the real work began. Marked by an exposed wood-framed ceiling and original wooden floors, Davin designed industrial steel and wood shelving to fit the overall design and display Om Organics’ entire skincare line.

“We wanted a warm, cozy feeling because of the wood. I wanted it to feel very natural and not stark. That’s why we kept the original floor and refinished it,” Kari says.

The front-end retail space allows the public to get a peek at some of the activity that takes place in the back.

Scaling up to meet demand

Back when Kari was first starting, she would make small hand-batches of product and place them on a small shelf when they were ready for retail.

“I used to pour everything by hand into a bottle and put the label on by hand,” she recalls, adding that she would also make custom blends to meet client requests.

And while many of her methods have stayed the same, Kari now has space and equipment to meet the demand for her all-natural, plant-based skincare, which she sells from the apothecary and online to customers around the world.

Instead of pots bubbling on the stove and hand mixers taking up counter space, Kari has a 1,200 sq. ft. "lab" in the back of the apothecary where she uses an industrial stainless-steel mixer, similar to the ones used in breweries, to combine her botanical ingredients. All tinctures and oils now sit in lines on wood shelving. Instead of pouring product by hand into bottles and placing labels on by hand, Kari now has a filling line and a labeller.

“We have had to automate a few things and reorganize the store to bring in more equipment and store things more efficiently,” Kari says. “We’re now able to make bigger batches and weigh large amounts of ingredients.”

While the volume has increased, the way Kari creates her products has stayed the same.

The Om philosophy

Being rooted in purity is all part of Om Organics’ philosophy to provide organic and accessible all-natural skincare products that do not contain toxic ingredients or harsh chemicals.

The apothecary is where that alchemy happens. It’s where all of Om’s aromatherapy blends, oils, balms, elixirs, serums, moisturizers, butters, and treatments are tested to meet various skin concerns and types, and where new products are formulated.

“When formulating a new product, we often think about our customers’ needs and about what may be missing from our line or a gap that we can fill,” Kari says. “We think of ways we can enhance the product to make it unique, using high-quality herbs and extracts, and what concentrate of extracts will make it more effective and differentiate it from other products. We also consider scent profiles using different essential oils.”

Learn more about Om’s humble beginnings by reading ‘This is It’: The Om Organics’ Story.

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