Menagerie Natural Beauty & Body is a gorgeous little shop in Portland (ran out of an Airstream!) that carries clean, conscious and small batch beauty and apothecary goods. I love their selection of natural makeup and everyday treasures. They inspire me to make the mundane, everyday things – like toothbrushes & razors – exquisitely gorgeous. I can’t wait to hopefully head down to PDX this summer & see the shop in person, but for now I’ll be content to browse their IG images & shop their products online. I wanted to know more about Casey, the woman behind this shop, & what inspires and drives her. I’m absolutely inspired by her answers, & am sure you’ll be too! PS- I kinda want to turn this Airstream into my home, don’t you?!
You only carry products from small batch, local, or green makers – why is that important to you?
I truly believe that small business is the backbone of the economy and supporting local means less waste, less transportation and more human connection. I also believe that plants have a very special way of helping us heal, far beyond what chemicals can offer.
You promote the idea of buying less and loving more – how does supporting small makers tie into that?
We are all so overwhelmed by clutter and lots of un-necessary stuff. I try to promote pairing down your beauty and skincare routine, and chose meaningful, quality items over cheap, plastic ones. Supporting independent makers and small shops moves our culture away from big box stores and the act of valuing material things over people.
Your goal is “to change the beauty & self-care industry from toxic to all natural, one small batch formula at a time.” Why?
The cosmetic industry in the USA is not regulated as stringently as other industries, like the food industry for instance. Many chemicals that are banned in other countries make their way into beauty and skincare products and most people aren’t completely aware. I think people have so much opportunity to change the direction of any industry just through purchasing power. Buying natural and small-batch takes one baby step forward toward influencing larger companies to consider what goes into their products.
Why is it important to make sure the products we are using are natural and non-toxic?
Our skin is our largest organ. Just as we wouldn’t dream of drinking chemicals in fear of what they would do to our inner organs, we often forget that constantly putting chemicals on our skin will also effect our health.
You’ve spent most of your career working for mainstream brands who do not hold these values – what prompted the shift?
I also used to spend hundreds of dollars a month on mainstream beauty products (I admit, I was a junkie, and for all the bad stuff). What really prompted me to switch was my interest in food, the processing of food, and how it affects our skin and our health. I started by switching my diet from processed, large industry food product to hormone-free, small farm, whole food. After seeing and feeling the effects of that switch, it was only natural that I trash all of my big brand beauty products for ingredients I could pronounce and from companies I could connect with.
How do you define success?
Oh, that’s a tough one… I think the feeling of success comes in waves over time. I’m not sure I believe that there is a point in life where you look around and say “boy, am I successful!” For me, I’m always looking for the next venture that keeps me curious and excited. So I guess I feel the most successful when I’m able to explore my curiosity and create something to inspire other people too.
What is your ultimate goal, both personally and professionally?
I have so many goals it’s hard to narrow it down to one! One of my professional goals is to help other small businesses thrive – we’re all in this together! One of my personal goals is to better understand how my emotional state (stress, happiness, excitement, anxiety) are effected by the world around me, be it exercising, eating, or my environment. I’m super curious about what makes the most impact on my overall state of wellness.
Biggest reward being an entrepreneur? Biggest struggle?
Biggest reward is meeting other people (customers and makers) who are also inquisitive about health and wellness. It’s also so rewarding when people walk into my shop and feel inspired that they could also create something small for themselves.
Biggest struggle is taking time to care for myself as much as I care for my business!
What advice do you have for those starting their own endeavours?
Mentally prepare yourself to tackle anything that comes at you. Because at some point, it will all be yours to figure out. There isn’t a task that’s too big or too small for an entrepreneur to combat. Be sure you take time to listen to your gut, and change direction without taking it to heart. And above all, be true to your beliefs and the reason you started the endeavor in the first place!
Why is it important to share the story behind a maker? Why is it important for the buyer to connect to that?
So much of this industry is faceless. I worked as a designer and product developer for so many years, very much behind the scenes. I know how it feels to put your heart into something and never connect with the people you’re making it for. I think it’s important to give brands faces and human connection; it makes us more accountable on both ends.
What is your favorite product you carry? Why?
I love Axiology lipstick, especially in the color Worth. This is a small brand from Bend, OR and the attention to detail around this product is just wonderful. The ingredients list is very short with all organic butters and oils, plus they are palm-oil-free, the performance is extremely long wearing with a silky texture, and the packaging is meticulously designed; even the paper box is made by hand by a women-owned factory in Indonesia.
Your shop is in an airstream – how did that come about?
The Airstream idea really came about after moving to Portland and being so inspired by the food cart community here. I knew I wanted to open a boutique but after meeting some cart owners, it seemed like such an imaginative idea to house it inside an Airstream. I love the experience of walking into something you wouldn’t think could be beautiful and feeling inspired.
What inspires you?
Hard working, tenacious people, and the magic of plants.
How do you find balance? What does balance look like to you?
I’m not sure balance actually exists. I think it’s a really fun idea, but I think there’s always some give and take when trying to achieve balance. I’m fortunate enough to be married to someone who is also an entrepreneur so we know that a steady, easy, kick up your feet type of life is not in the cards for us. But we both enjoy exploring new ideas and spending time together. I like to think of life as a boat on the water – if you move close to one side to paddle forward, the other side might come out of the water for a bit and not be so stable. So there’s a back and forth and always some risk of tipping over. But if you sit in the comfortable middle, you aren’t going to go anywhere.
What do you feel is the most important thing in life?
Human love, animal snuggles, and mother nature.