The Upothecary story starts with a combo of science and passion 10 years ago. Back in 2008, when she was pregnant with her first child, Katie Iarocci decided to channel some downtime by igniting a budding new passion: making all-natural soap with the best possible ingredients.
She visited her local library to check out reference books on the subject, made her first batch, and deemed it a gratifying success. “Having a science background made the learning process easy and quick,” says Iarocci, who today works as Up Cannabis’ Horticulture Manager, overseeing the growth cycle of the licensed producer’s cannabis crop, keeping the plants healthy, and always looking for ways to innovate.
Thinking back, Iarocci says it was as though a 1000-watt lightbulb popped up over her head. “I made that first batch with products that were vegan and all-natural. Not using animal products was and will always remain important to me. And I realized that body products can be made with quality ingredients and work better than the value-focused, mass-produced stuff.”
Fast forward to 2018, and the realization Iarocci had 10 years prior has now come full circle. Today, the Upothecary product lineup is inspired by the same terpenes found in the adult-use cannabis grown by its sister company, Up Cannabis, which also takes a decidedly craft approach to its own operations (Iarocci is proud to have been hired as Employee #3).
Terpenes, the colourless yet extremely fragrant essential oils found in all plant matter, are what make roses smell like roses, or mangoes smell like mangoes, or pine needles smell like…well, you get the idea. Terpenes in cannabis run the gamut, from science textbook sounding profiles such as limonene, pinene, or myrcene (found in mango, pine or lavender, respectively) to a host of others with equally tongue-twisting names such as bisabolol, geraniol or caryophyllene (found in chamomile, roses or black pepper, respectively).
And their distinct fragrances not only lend to signature smells, but are scientifically proven to help soothe or invigorate, or even lend a product anti-bacterial or anti-inflammatory properties. In other words, they smell great and are actually great for you, too.
For Iarocci, the passion for hand-crafted personal care products grew to include more than just soap. She began making lotions and lip balms, bath salts and bath bombs, shampoos and conditioners, even perfumes—all the while obsessing over essential oils and the role they can play in the finished product. After moving her family to a 20-acre property in southwestern Ontario, she founded Plant Magic, a bath and body products company fueled by locally-sourced ingredients, many of which she grew on her own. “I view cannabis as a therapeutic herb, and I’ve made a career out of my love for growing healing plants,” she says.
Ask anyone who’s sampled the Upothecary product lineup, and they’ll say those essential oil-rich soaps and shampoos have become nothing short of essential to their own personal care routines.
Lucky for us, Iarocci’s passion prevails.