Meet the Maker | Kara Petrunick of Living Apothecary

In honour of International Women’s Month, we’re sharing conversations with the inspiring women behind some of the brands we love and carry in our store. Their stories showcase the power of determination and a true passion for the product lines they’ve created, and they sure do give us a lot to look up to!

Being featured in our series this week is Kara Petrunick, the mind and heart behind Living Apothecary, a Toronto-based herbal tea line providing organic, hand-crafted, premium loose leaf herbal teas.
Experimenting with different herbal preparations, all the while studying naturopathic medicine, Kara found healing and inspiration in botanicals and the rituals they provided.
Living Apothecary then came to life as a way to spread an herb-based self-care regime.
Kara, you started Living Apothecary as a way to heal your own ailments - your battles with anxiety, hangovers, sleeplessness and painful periods. Did you feel that there was a stigma that came with selling products that addressed such issues in the market?

Absolutely! When it was still very much a hobby, I had never imagined myself being so vulnerable about my personal struggles - struggles that were at one time viewed as ‘weaknesses’. The more women I spoke to, the more I realized that so many of us were struggling with the same things. Anxiety, hangovers that were getting WORSE as we got older, sleeplessness that had become such an integral and normal part of our lives, and painful periods that were stopping us from going to work. This was just not right.
Now, I really lean into what I’m providing. I want to remove that stigma that comes with women's health and personal struggles.
What are some of the essential steps in your daily routine as a female entrepreneur that you’d encourage other women to follow?

I truly believe that how we start and end our day is the key to how we manage it all. What happens in between will always fall into place as long as we keep our morning and evening boundaries. Mornings are always made for setting the course of the day while evenings are for reflection and a good bedtime routine. Of course, things will come up that shift our plans, but when we have set ourselves up to flow, these minor interruptions are just that – minor.
I also would encourage women to put their phones down and off throughout the day. Even if just for an hour, and get their bodies moving – whether that’s a walk outside or a class at their favorite studio. This always, always helps to remove any barriers we’re experiencing – creatively, personally, and professionally.
In what ways have botanicals and natural products changed your life?

Oh, in so many ways! For the past four years, I was completing my naturopathic medicine degree. I was introduced to the benefits of so many botanicals and natural health products; and though it was at times overwhelming, it gave me space to experiment on myself. They truly are such simple rituals that provide so much benefit and rituals that one can do daily. I’ve experimented with tinctures and herbal teas and different supplements. I’ve come out of burnout, hair loss, insomnia, anxiety, weight loss – all through botanicals and natural products.
I have personally always leaned into a more natural way of living. The idea of healing and not covering up a symptom is what I resonate most with. Botanicals and natural products truly allow that.
From your line that we offer in our shop, which is your favourite and why?

Snooze Brew is truly my favourite blend. We go way back. This is a blend I created during my studies to help with my terrible sleep. My anxiety was always crippling right before bed. I would literally lay awake all night. The anxiety mixed with the lack of sleep would then carry through to my day. It was just a terrible way of living. I had tried a blend of passionflower, oatstraw, and chamomile – which worked wonders for me, but it needed more. The addition of the valerian and lavender is what elevated the blend and really allowed me to keep my anxiety at bay and improve my sleep. Beyond the power of the botanicals, the ritual it provided also helped. I had created a bedtime routine that also worked at my quality of sleep and in turn my quality of life.

What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?

I would say, just start. You’re never going to know EVERYTHING there possibly is to know about running a business, you’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to have failures. It’s a learning experience that follows you every single day, and that’s the true beauty of having your own business. But only when you start do you realize just how capable you are in doing it. I think women, or maybe it was just me at the time, have this ‘perfectionist’ ideal of how things should be managed. If it’s not PERFECT, it’s not going to happen; and we feel the need to always give our all or give nothing at all. When I let go of that idea, magic happened.