Need some pampering this holiday season while shopping for those last-minute gifts and stocking stuffers? Apothespa – a “green beauty apothecary” – is a new business in town and might be just the place. Founded by daughter-mother duo Molly Allene and Christine Morgan, Apothespa opened November 20th at 212 N. 3rd Street, Suite A, in McCall and offers facials, skin products for the entire family, cosmetics, fun decorative items for home or office, and yummy treats.
Apothespa is a family affair: Molly’s 13-year-old son is “inventory manager” and mom Christine describes herself as a silent partner and “operations manager,” handling the website and some marketing while Molly does social media. They’re all eager to help customers feel good in their skin, offering facials and unique gift items that are eco-friendly and, in some cases (like the coffee caramels), to-die-for delicious.
Molly’s approach toward products and services is grounded in the environment, especially with the plants and ingredients used in facial treatments and the skin products offered. Apothespa stocks independent beauty brands that are small-maker driven, including herbalists and those formulating their own treatments. “I’ve fact-checked and formula-checked every product, something that goes by the wayside in a lot of spaces,” says Molly. “I like bringing the magic of outside energy inside. I’m a product junky. This is my passion, always has been.”
Age 39, Molly graduated from Aveda Institute’s esthiology program in Minneapolis, MN in 1998 and has worked as an esthetician ever since. Since graduation, she has taken many continuing education classes, attended numerous seminars, and spent time expanding her knowledge at the International Dermal Institute in California. Opening Apothespa in McCall is the culmination of a long-held dream.
Why McCall? Molly first lived in McCall in 2012, running the Shore Lodge spa, and fell in love with the town and surrounding area. Even though she enjoyed living and working in big cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, and New York City – in sales, education, even operating a couple of her own spaces – Molly always wanted to return to McCall. Molly and Christine made a few reconnaissance missions to McCall to secure housing and find a good space for their dream business. The stars aligned and they found both housing and a retail space remodeled for just them, moving to McCall October 1st. Chomping at the bit to get started, Molly is eager to use the slower winter business months to build her base facial clientele, work out any kinks regarding running the store, and learn what customers want and prefer.
Having lived many other places gives both Molly and Christine a true appreciation for McCall. “It’s vibrant. I want to help the area to thrive,” says Molly. They’re both excited to join the local, small business community here.
Skin Products Offered by an Expert Some might think facials and skin products are frivolous or extravagant, but Molly strongly believes they’re essential to feeling good about oneself. “I want to empower women to feel good in their skin,” she says. “Human touch and attention, done just for them, is valid; people crave it.”
With the facials she offers, Molly’s goal is to provide “a bespoke, customized treatment tailored to the client. By design, I’m keeping it specialized, offering just the one service.” Molly delights in experimenting with the products used for those facial treatments. “Mother Nature is an awesome chemist,” she says. “I’m not an herbalist, but I know my way around ingredients. Last summer I had lots of fun dabbling around with organics. I grew basil and turned honey pesto into a treatment.”
Facials and skin products aren’t just for women. “We don’t need gendered products; most can work for both,” says Molly. “I sell a product called ‘His’ to women because it’s great for them, too. The treatment space is gender-neutral because I want men to be comfortable and feel included.”
Molly likes having male clients. “They’re the best,” she says. “They’re loyal, they keep their appointments, they buy product, they’re easy to work with. I’ve had a career-long affinity for male clients. In Minneapolis, 40% of my clientele were men. I went after that market because they’re a valuable clientele to service providers.” Are you listening, men of McCall?
“Most aestheticians are quiet,” says Molly. “I like to have fun, break the ice by joking around, especially with men to make them comfortable in the space.” It seems to work. While working in Seattle, Molly received a wonderful review from one of her male clients:
OK first off let me say I have never had a facial, therefore I can’t say whether Alpine Glow is the best in the area or anything but coming from a first timer, it was INCREDIBLE! I love getting massages (who doesn’t right?!), however I don’t like lotions and moisturizers, etc. so I never would have thought I would have enjoyed this but man, I definitely would recommend Molly to anyone! …Molly is super professional, very personable and friendly. She asked if I had ever had one before and I said no so she explained a bit of what she was going to do. While I was waiting for the mask (no idea if that’s what it’s called) to finish, she massaged my neck and arms! I don’t know if that’s normal but I’m sold! The fragrances were super pleasant and you can tell she has been doing this for years.
Apothecaries as Inspiration Apothespa isn’t just about skin care. “My time on the east coast showed me the uniqueness of apothecaries,” says Molly, referring to places where historically drugs and compounds were made and dispensed for medicinal purposes and over time became places offering a wide array of personal care products and advice. Apothespa carries a wide array of items for women, babies, men, the garden, dogs; apparel; gifts; aroma products (essential oils, perfumes, candles); irreverent cards, mugs and other gifts items; and specialty candies and other treats. “I don’t take myself too seriously,” Molly adds. “We’ve got some ‘sneak attacks’ in here; I want people giggling. I want them feeling textures, playing with items. I want them asking me questions, building a relationship. Historically, people went to apothecaries for everything; they were a storehouse of engagement and interaction.”
Molly and Christine are open to growth and fluidity in their business, seeing what people like and sourcing products and ingredients locally as much as possible. “I’m all about being clean and transparent, stewards of the environment. I’ll be flexible, working with seasonal local producers, a ‘farm-to-face’ approach, sourcing locally. I’m excited for spring and summer. I have high standards, which can make finding local ingredients or products challenging, for example I don’t want any artificial fragrances.”
One major goal with their space is to minimize waste and environmental impact. Recycling is a focus, with many products made from recycled materials. For example, Apothespa is hoping to work with North Fork Coffee to recycle coffee grounds into their treatments since they’re an excellent exfoliant.
The store has something for everyone, regardless of sex, age, or budget, from babies to seniors. “By design, this is a place for everyone,” says Molly.
The Silent Partner Shares her Insights “I’ve grown up with her in the industry, from the outside looking in,” says Christine of her daughter Molly’s career. “I’m amazed how much she’s learned and brought to her clients. In Seattle, she grew herbs on her balcony and picked berries to include in her treatments. I’m proud to watch this happen, as her mom and as a patron of her services.”
Christine notes that Molly gets “in the moment” with her clients, a “What’s happening today with your skin?” approach which is what clients are looking for. “It’s an all-inclusive service: the peel and mask aren’t add-ons,” she adds.
Working with Molly in opening Apothespa has been an exciting learning experience for Christine, whose career has been writing marketing articles for big corporations. “I never thought I’d stretch so many unused muscles,” she says. “This is my first time in retail. I’m just hoping to do right by Molly and the business.” Christine admits some of the “other” products available in the store are a result of her influence, many coming from the Pacific Northwest.
Christine says she’s impressed with the education Molly provides her clients regarding skin care, adding that Molly has them doing homework to ensure the best possible ongoing result. “Her clients are her teammates,” says Christine, “they are her walking billboards. Every client, every person deserves to feel good in their skin. Their face is a brand, their most valuable feature, so we need to build that trust. The biggest compliment is a relaxed, happy client who enjoys using our products.”
Visit Wander into Apothespa, indulge your senses with the wonderful scents, check out the wide variety of specialty products and gift items, talk to Molly about a facial treatment, and try those Caramel Caravan coffee-flavored caramels. You won’t be sorry.
(All photos: McCall Digest.)