Brenda Brock, founder of the natural skincare line Farmaesthetics, remembers being a little girl, curiously standing on her tippy toes, and straining to see the top of her grandmother’s dressing table. There were toiletries in milky blue glass bottles with labels she couldn’t read, white linen hankies, crisp and folded, and sweetly scented powdery things. It was private, personal and intimate.
“I was drawn to that place. I think I knew that women were different at their dressing tables somehow, that this is where they went to soften themselves after hard work. It was mysterious to know that they had this place to be that had nothing to do with us."
All of the nostalgia and beauty wrapped up in this childhood memory is embodied in Farmaesthetics’ flagship Newport apothecary and treatment boutique. Entering the space feels like being transported back to a calmer, simpler time, not unlike the world where Brenda, the daughter of an 8th-generation Texas farming family, was raised. It was a world where everything was real and natural: tables were wood, pitchers were porcelain, bottles were glass. “It was glorious. That kind of texture was so grounding,” Brenda wistfully recalls. “Now it is considered a luxury, but back then, it was just a wholesome way of life.”
White tin ceiling tiles, antique rocking chairs and glass bottles labeled in cursive with descriptions like “Nourishing Lavender Milk” and “Cool Aloe Mist” pay homage to these bygone days and give Farmaesthetics an old-time charm that still feels fresh and refined. The space reflects the wholesome purity of the products, which are made with organic herbs, flowers, oils and grains from American family farms. The “rural kitchen culture” of Brenda’s youth is the inspiration behind her growing skincare brand. The women who gathered around the kitchen table to share natural, farm-based recipes for health and beauty set the stage for her lifelong love of herbal concocting. “So much self care information is held in verbal traditions. There was an intimacy of truth exchanged between us little girls and our elders.”
Following in the footsteps of her ancestors, Brenda began creating handmade skincare preparations for family and friends using herbs and flowers she grew herself. She started selling her beauty products at a friend’s roadside organic farm stand during the summer of 1999. From there, the demand for her natural products has continued to grow. Today her full line of skincare products for the face and body are used in spas like the Four Seasons and sold by retailers including Urban Outfitters and Terrain.
The antiques that fill Brenda’s Bellevue Avenue store keep her deeply connected to her past as her thriving brand looks towards the future. “I need them around me for reference in my work environment. All it takes is a glimpse or a quick touch to realign myself with my story and intentions for Farmaesthetics, and that is very important during the hubbub of a demanding day at a fast growing business.”
You can see the full tour and read more about Brenda's style and the apothecary's furnishings on Apartment Therapy.
Photos and text by Jacqueline Marque