New Gift Shop opens in Ottawa

If you’ve happened by any craft show recently, or negotiated your way down Somerset from Rochester to Preston, you’ll probably have noticed a fragrance to the air that wasn’t there before. It’s all thanks to Purple Urchin (P.U.!), a new little shop that sells locally-made soaps, lotions, scrubs and more.

Co-owned by Sarah Stewart and Rebecca Pereira, this new venture is all set to ensure that Ottawans have an eco-friendly, non-chemical-based alternative to Dove and Old Spice (no word yet on whether they’ve found the local version of the Old Spice guy, though). Their products, which use ingredients like actual brown sugar, coffee and lavender, are the real deal: what you see is what you get. The hardest part comes when choosing which scent to go with for your daily latherings – luckily, Sarah and Beck are on hand to help decide which product will work best with any skin needs, especially in this dry winter season.
We sent Sarah a few questions to find out more about P.U., their new shop, and what makes a good gift for the holidays:

Apartment613: What’s Purple Urchin’s story–where did you get the inspiration to start it up?

Beck and I met in highschool in Sault Ste. Marie and always talked about starting a business together – we had no idea what kind of business we wanted to start, but some of our first ideas were an art supply store or a vintage clothing store. We jokingly wanted to call ourselves “SarBex” which is a combo of both of our names and really just sounds lame or like Starbuck’s. We first seriously thought about starting a business in November 2005. Beck came to me with the idea of making soap because it’s environmentally-friendly and sounded really fun. We made our first batch for our families that year for Christmas. We went on a scavenger hunt for our ingredients like coconut oil, essential oils, and lye and we were drilled by the owner of a hardware shop when we were buying the lye – he wanted to know exactly what we were doing with it. I remember thinking “Don’t worry, we won’t go all ‘Fight Club’ on you”. We used cardboard boxes lined with waxed paper for our molds and coloured our soap with grated crayons.

Continue reading “100 Mile Gift Guide: P.U.!”


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