St. Polycarpe sisters putting nature back in skin care
Founder inspired by beauty around her
A St. Polycarpe woman has turned taking care of skin with natural ingredients into a thriving business that’s creating a buzz locally and farther afield, and she says it was the nature around that was her first inspiration.
Julia Sinclair-Smith started experimenting with products for her company, Smith Farms, in 2009 and then launched a year later with her sister Rebecca Sinclair-Smith. Julia says she was inspired to create her own line of health and beauty products because she was tired of not being able to pronounce the names of the ingredients that were in the hair and skin goods she was buying.
“I couldn’t even pronounce most of the names when I read the ingredients and just thought there had to be a better way”, Julia said. So she set out to make her own products vowing to not use anything she couldn’t eat or pronounce. “That doesn’t mean we want people eating our products, though”, she noted with a laugh.
The sisters, who grew up in Montreal but spent weekends and holidays at their parents St. Polycarpe farm, also attended Soulanges Elementary School in Saint-Télesphore when it was still a one-room schoolhouse (it has now expanded to include a second classroom.)
“It was wonderful going to school there. There were anywhere from eight to 16 students at the school each year so there was no such thing as bullying or peer pressure, everyone just helped each other out. It was nice,” Julia, who was in Hudson last week for a product demo at Que de Bonnes Choses store, which carries her line, recalled.
And the avid outdoors-woman and runner who now lives full-time at the farm says she’s inspired to keep things natural because of the nature she’s surrounded by on a daily basis.
She works on each product until the recipe has been perfected.
“What I’m doing is not rocket science, it’s going back to a simpler way of doing things. It’s using nature to take care of ourselves and luckily it is very effective.”
Using her food processor, Julia, who had a background in fashion design and graphic design before starting the skincare line, first created an emulsion hand cream.
Her main goal was coming up with something that wasn’t greasy.
“I hate it when my hands feel greasy after putting lotion on, but I needed something that was easily absorbed into the skin and helped protect it at the same time,” she said.
Using sunflower and caster oils then adding aloe vera, chamomile flower, vitamin E and water, she eventually perfected her first product, which seems to be a hit with users, many of whom rave about the product’s benefit for those who suffer from eczema.
Julia, who now works three or four days a week in an industrial kitchen she installed at the St. Polycarpe farm, also uses ingredients like sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, beeswax, citrus extract, coconut oil, goats milk, grapeseed oil, and more to produce the products.
In all, the sisters – Julia works in production, while Rebecca focuses on marketing, graphic design and administration from her Montreal home – remain a two person team, though they have recently taken on a part-time assistant. Their line includes products for the face, hands and feet, lips, and bath and body.
Smith Farms is making a name for itself. Its products have been mentioned or named to many “best of” lists in magazines like Châtelaine, Today’s Parent and Fashion magazine where the Vitamin Rich Hand Cream was named one of the most wanted products for the summer of 2012. Meanwhile, Dressed to Kill magazine touted their hair and body oil as ones to try. And newspapers like the Montreal Gazette, La Presse and The Globe and Mail, have also written about the sisters.
For now they’re focusing on growing the brand with the already established product line, but say they do plan to introduce a new body-butter lotion next month.
In addition to Que de Bonnes Choses in Hudson, Smith Farms products can be found at health and wellness stores in the region like Vert et Essentiel in Vaudreuil, Chez Iris in St. Polycarpe,
Biotope Aliments Santé in VaudreuilDorion, as well as at many similar stores in Montreal. They are also sold on the Smith Farms online website.
Julia and Rebecca Sinclair-Smith are a two person team.