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From Kitchen Table to Downtown Storefront: Ritual Apothecary

By PKED Comms
Nadine McCallen at the counter of store

Ritual Apothecary, located in downtown Peterborough, was a passion project turned retail space opened by Nadine McCallen in 2018. However, Nadine’s journey into the world of all-natural skincare and beauty products began much earlier- in 2015 from her kitchen table!

natural beauty care products arranged on a table

Photocredit: DBIA

“I started The Willow’s Bark line of natural skincare from my apartment kitchen in 2015,” explains Nadine. “I began exploring the world of all-natural skincare and holistic nutrition to help me address some personal allergies. I needed skincare that was without preservatives, artificial scents/colour and additives that would irritate my sensitive skin. Seeing a lack of options in the market, I decided to create my own.”

After launching The Willows Bark in 2015 and continuing to develop the business, Nadine moved to Peterborough.

“I love the strong sense of community we have here in Peterborough,” Nadine shares. “Our local business scene is thriving with lots of new opportunities and new entrepreneurs all the time. Once I moved here, I knew this would be a great place to expand my brand.”

Side view of Nadine McCallen arranging clothes in the store

In 2018, Nadine opened Ritual Apothecary, a studio and retail space specializing in high quality, holistic skincare, beauty products, herbal remedies and more. Her retail space, located in downtown Peterborough, was a chance opportunity to say the least.

“I entered a contest to win free rent in a downtown retail space in Peterborough,” explains Nadine. “At this point, I was still manufacturing and selling The Willows Bark from my kitchen. When I won the “Win this Space” contest, I was able to scale the business into what it is now – Ritual Apothecary. Now we sell not only my own products but other brands and products that I believe in and that also promote our holistic wellness philosophy.”

While Ritual Apothecary is a retail storefront, it’s primary use is a studio space for Nadine and her products. The space is often used to brainstorm, test and manufacture all of The Willow’s Bark products.  For Nadine, this connection to the lifecycle to product development is what makes her business so special.

crushing with mortal and pestle

“We create all of our products in-house, so there really is a personal connection to everything we sell. We trust our products and are proud to share them with our customers. All of our products are created in small batches by real people, so they may be slightly varied from time to time, but that’s what I love about it. The idiosyncrasy is what makes us so unique compared to big business”

As a small local entrepreneur, Nadine prides herself on the creativity that goes into running a business like Ritual Apothecary. Nadine is involved in the entire process of creating a product, from brainstorming a need or idea, to product development, testing, packaging and eventually selling to customers. For her team, it is a real source of pride that they can sell the products they have made to people in their local community.

“We are a small company and I want to keep it that way. We’re always innovating, multi-tasking and dreaming of our next product or business move. The human element is what makes Ritual Apothecary so special.” says Nadine.

hand holding clover & calendula facial tonic bottle

Source: Willow’s Bark Facebook Page

When asked what she loves about being a business owner, the answer was simple for Nadine. “I love the freedom to create. The challenge of creating something that I am proud to call my own and sell to people in my community. This pride is what keeps me going.”

Best known for their bath bombs, facial serums and face wash, Ritual Apothecary offers a wide range of products for all skin types and concerns. Their products are excellent options for people with skin allergies, those looking for a more natural approach to their beauty routine or anyone looking for gift ideas.

natural skincare products arranged on a stone

Source: Ritual Apothecary Facebook Page

When asked what the Peterborough & the Kawarthas community means to her business, Nadine shared a simple response. “Without the people from our community, we wouldn’t be here today.”

“Almost 75% of our customers are return customers from our local community,” says Nadine. “For a small business, that type of client return rate is amazing. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for all of us, we’ve actually seen an influx of local support rather than a decline. We’re so grateful for that.”

For Nadine, the mantra behind her customer service model is simple – treating her customers and employees with grace and compassion. “This is a difficult time not only for us as individuals, but for small businesses. We have to work twice as hard to make the same amount of products and profits. Due to provincial restrictions, we have had to re-imagine our processes and unfortunately, that means sometimes we might make a mistake. We’re only human and giving ourselves that grace is something that is very important to me.”

Ritual Apothecary offers in-store local shopping, curbside pickup, local delivery and shipping across Canada and the United States.

To check out Ritual Apothecary and their products, visit their downtown Peterborough location at 196 Charlotte Street or visit them online at

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