Capsule Q&A: Juniper Ridge

January 25, 2012

(capsule) is the biannual fashion tradeshow that takes place in cities across the globe and features a careful curation of contemporary brands, both new players and experienced veterans. FADER Style is catching up with some of the standouts, and we'll be featuring interviews with them throughout the year on the blog. First up: Hall Newbegin of Juniper Ridge Apothecary, which makes soaps and perfumes out of pine needles and fir.

Where are you from? I aways think of places in terms of rivers and mountains—I grew up on the Western slope of the Cascades near the Columbia River (also known as Portland), and now I live on the south slope of Mt. Tamalpais above the town of Mill Valley in Northern California.

Do you have formal training in perfumery? My field is natural fragrance and my only qualification for the job is being a nature freak. There's no school for that except lots of hiking, crawling around on your hands and knees in the rain looking for yummy wild mushrooms, harvesting wild berries for jam, digging up Aralia roots and cooking them in honey for winter cold medicine, wandering off the trail—getting lost in the woods is excellent training for my field.

What was the impetus for starting Juniper Ridge? There's so much gross, smelly stuff out there in the fancy organic lifestyle stores—all those soaps and candles that supposedly smell like cedar or pine, but absolutely don't. I wanted to make things that were true to the plants and the places that they come from: real fragrance, a solid perfume that is a snapshot of a mountain meadow in the height of Cascade wildflower summer, a soap that smells just like a late season hike in the Northern Sierra, warm and bright fall sun with the smell of winter just around the corner.

Can you describe your brand in 5 words or less? "We bring the mountains into your home" except that's seven words. How about "Fresh from the Mountains?" But that's boring, it's our tag line and we use it all the time—I can't stand canned stuff and marketing lines, even if they're lines that I wrote. As soon as it becomes marketing it's just not real to me anymore, which drives my employees insane because I'm always changing things to keep us authentic and real. Was that more than 5 words?

Who inspires you? West coast nature poet and wilderness hero Gary Snyder and Neil Young are two of my biggest heroes.

Where do you see your company in five years? Small is beautiful! My dreams aren't about getting bigger, I dream about getting smaller and more specific. I love evoking real places, the places I've backpacked and hiked over the years, the places I love.

Posted: January 25, 2012
Capsule Q&A: Juniper Ridge