Mila began this apothecary journey back in 2018, and is the woman behind the apothecary. She crafts plant-centred ritual beauty and wellness products designed to nourish both skin and soul, from her home by ancient woodland in England.
What did you do before starting Mila’s Apothecary?
This is more a case of what didn’t I do.... I have been an aid worker, chef, writer, magazine editor, office administrator, professional dogsitter, set designer, and more. Food, culture, and activism have always been a part of my work and I carry this through with the apothecary.
How did you come up with the name for your business?
I think there were other names floating about but this was pretty instantaneous. I wanted apothecary to be in the name because of the image it conjures up in people's minds (although I have since learned that people really struggle to say it!) and I love my name, it's Polish and reminds me of my roots.
What would you be doing if you weren’t running Mila’s Apothecary?
I am still writing and working as a chef, but perhaps I’d train as a social worker or art therapist. There’s always time for that though. At some point I’d like to study a masters degree, I just can’t make my mind up what to study!
How did you get interested in what you are doing?
My love for herbalism didn't really start until I had a mental health breakdown in 2018, and the plants found me. One day I just started noticing a plant in the wild which turned out to help ease stress and anxiety (pineapple weed) and from then on I started learning about and creating herbal remedies for friends and family.
I've always been a crafter though. I turned my garden wendy-house into a shop when I was younger, demanding my family buy my foraged mud pies off me! I invited friends over for potion-crafting sessions, and a while back I found a notebook where I had written detailed instructions for cold-process soapmaking in sparkly gel pens. I think I was always meant to be doing this.
What helps you work?
My best days start with a few minutes of silence outside in the sunshine, mug of mushroom cocoa or a soothing, brain-focusing tea blend of skullcap, lemongrass, rosemary and tulsi in hand.
I have learned that long to do lists (they are never-ending as a small business owner!) make me feel overwhelmed and I never get anything done efficiently.
Writing out just 3 business tasks to do for the day, starting with the most pressing or my least favourite, sets me up for a good day.
Best thing about running Mila’s Apothecary?
How much time I spend outdoors. Working with plants, being creative and the feedback I get from my lovely customers.
What inspires you?
Nature, the seasons, the planet, the cosmos. My travels that have taken me to the ocean, the desert, the mountains. The woods and meadows where I live.
Hedgerow Nectar was inspired by my local hedgerows, Wildflower Radiance Mask was inspired by British meadows and alpine clearings in the high French Alps. Damask Rose Hydrolat was inspired by my time spent with refugees and stories of Syria, and Lemons of the Hyades was inspired by the scent of the air whilst standing under a lemon tree after a fresh downpour of rain.
Where is your business located?
A town in between London and Cambridge. It’s a commuter town for London with plenty of countryside nearby.
What does a working day look like for you?
They are all pretty varied, but involve lots of time spent on my laptop and a rotation of herbal teas.
In the mornings I will research scientific studies, packaging and suppliers, as well as send any emails, update my website, plan content.
Then I'll make instagram content, perhaps work on a new formulation or blend products well into the evening.
There's time spent outside tending to my plants and walking in the woods too.
Your most memorable place, and why?
There are too many. The woods where I grew up will always hold special meaning for me, as will Leeds, the first city I ever moved to, and Berlin and Athens, the two subsequent cities I have lived in.
My trip to Gujarat in India when I was 13 changed my life, as did the tiny Greek island of Leros, where the magic of island beach life was juxtaposed with the awful reality of a refugee camp, the first one I visited.
My love for Devon and Cornwall run deep too. I always felt so connected to these places as a child when I went on family holidays there, and when I found out recently that this was where my ancestors were from it made me smile.
What motivates you on a day-to-day business?
My customers. It's still a revelation for me when they love something I have created!
When I get messages telling me that my products have been life-changing... I couldn't ask for more. I feel so proud when a customer tells me they felt confident in not wearing make up today because their skin is now clear and glowing because of Hedgerow Nectar, or how they have finally managed to get a peaceful night's sleep because of Passionflower Calming Chai Latte.
It's a constant reminder that I am on the right path.
What’s on the apothecary bucketlist?
I’d love to have a shop filled with gorgeous products from myself and other makers too, with adaptogenic drinks and treats to munch on. At night it could serve organic wine and have live music, ceramics and herbalism workshops.
One day I will write a book, with products sold across the world and amazing collaborations with other brands!
What’s next for the apothecary?
I'm currently working on some new releases for summer, developing gorgeous new packaging for teas, working on a collaboration and building a new workshop space! I am so excited!