The GOODS from Eastside Flea
Vancouver, BC | A conversation between Nina Sekhon and Alexandra Hulley with photographs by Alberta Randall. Alexandra Hulley owns and operates Nectrous Botanicals, which focuses on unique and expertly hand-crafted soaps. You can find her at @nectrousbotanicals on Instagram and at the Eastside Flea on Saturday, April 20th and Sunday, April 21st.
How did you get started with Nectrous Botanicals?
Nectrous grew out of my fascination with natural ingredients and the infinite ways they can be blended to create something incredible. I got really into experimenting with essential oils a few years ago, and learning all about their unique properties through research and lots of trial and error with custom scent blends I would whip up in my kitchen. I played around with a few different mediums, but it was soapmaking that I really fell for and that stuck. I love the entire process: the initial formulation where you tweak your recipe until it does exactly what you want it to do, mixing up the batches, waiting 5-6 weeks for the soap to cure, and then the tactile and sensory experience of using the soap when it’s all ready.
What’s your personal favourite item that you sell?
The Hard Bar was the first bar I perfected and has remained my #1 go to ever since. When I started thinking about what I wanted in my ideal soap, the answer was “an exfoliation bar that is extra-moisturizing, so you nourish your skin while exfoliating. Must smell like an a dreamy alpine lake”. Hard bar came from that. I’m also currently obsessed with my newest bar, Terrazzo Bar. For Terrazzo Bar I colour individual soap batches with natural ingredients and then suspend all the different coloured soap blocks in a white soap batch. Once it sets and I get to cut it into the individual bars, each one is wildly different from the last and it’s so fun!
What are the biggest issues that come up when running this business?
For me, the biggest challenge has been perfecting my production schedule. Soap has a pretty long lead time -it takes 6 weeks to cure- and thinking about how much product I’ll need and what demand might look like a month and a half in the future can be tough.
What is your favourite local independent business?
My favourite local independent business right now is All City Athletics, a boxing gym underground 130 West Hastings. The instructors all rule, the community is awesome, and the training is as hard as you want to make it. Classes there are my favourite way to start the day, and I always feel great after.
Favourite thing found at the Flea?
I’m currently loving the Firewood+Saffron candle I picked up from Homecoming the last time I was at the Flea and my new leather keychain from Mameyo Goods. The Flea is so good for vintage shopping too, I’ve found so many incredible power outfits while shopping Kool Things Vintage and New Olds vintage racks, to name just two. I’m waiting for it to be about 4 degrees warmer out so I can start wearing this awesome summer dress I got from Kool Things a few months ago.