Apotheke Soaps founder and caterer-turned-soapster Chrissy Fichtl (below) knows how to follow a recipe. But she also knows the value of improvising from the game plan—which sometimes means leaving the kitchen entirely.
How did you start making soaps?
I started making soaps as a hobby when we lived in the Hamptons. We cooked and catered at night and went to the farmers market in the mornings to do the shopping for the events. A friend said I needed to find a hobby and one late night on Amazon I purchased a $60 “soap making kit.” Basically it had instructions, oils and an essential oil in the box. Made the soap in a milk carton and used it six weeks later. I thought the soap was really great. I did feel a difference using the soap I made as opposed to store-bought or fancy perfumed soaps. My skin felt smoother. I just kept experimenting that winter and made some bars and purchased essential oils when I had some extra money. The following summer the farmers-market manager sent out an email looking for new vendors. I thought I could do the market in the morning and cook at night. I applied and the following week I was selling very, very homemade looking soaps. Over the years our soaps have bec0me more refined with better packaging and shape but it is still the same soap!
Where does the name Apotheke come from?
Apotheke is German for pharmacy. We use a company in Germany for many of our essential oils. Also my most favorite part of traveling abroad is seeing different packaging and products in the pharmacy! We also have two mini dachshunds—they’re German too!
What is one part of the soapmaking process that you think people would be surprised to know? Making soap is just like cooking. The more you do it the less you need to read the recipe. It just becomes natural to know when to pour and mix by the consistency of the oils and the color it takes on.
What’s your favorite part of the Flea?
My favorite part is chatting with the vendors. They are our co-workers and it’s like we are standing around the water cooler shooting the breeze. I have learned a lot from them about business, and we all support each other’s businesses.