Named from a line of a Pablo Neruda love sonnet, inspired by “the beauty regimens of the Egyptians and remedies of the past” and shipped to the reaches of New York and Los Angeles, luxury envelopes Artisan Square’s newest store, Sangre de Fruta.
The shop opens Saturday and offers the botanical line’s water-free, organic, plant-based, non-animal-tested products that range from body and face creams, to shampoos and conditioners, to perfumes and tonics.
Though just opening Sangre de Fruta’s first physical shop, islander Allison Audrey Weldon has been selling their products online for the past three years and to markets such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop.
But she started small.
Allison learned how to make creams from a family friend, a former owner of the Gaia Gardens apothecary in Vancouver. When the friend retired and sold the apothecary, her friends kept requesting her creams. So the friend decided it was time to pass along her knowledge and the laborious endeavour.
“We started just in her kitchen,” recalls Allison. “She had a beautiful cabinet full of Old World beautiful rare essential oils and we’d just pour things in, not measure, just really have fun and not be able to recreate them again.”
Every six months or so the two would make a batch for friends and family and as years passed, an idea sprouted in Allison’s mind. She says she saw people loving the creams and she saw a need for a grassroots product for a luxury market, and with a background in marketing, the opportunity was ripe.
Before turning to Sangre de Fruta, Allison had worked in fashion and film and knew the lifestyle market but struggled with the superficiality of the industries.
“I love the art of fashion, I love the art of beautiful fabrics and the design and the self-expression part of it,” explains Allison but the rest of it wasn’t for her.
“The luxury market can just be all about marketing and all the fluff and not about the real stuff,” she says. “But luxury really is more about what’s in the product. How it’s made.”
“Surely there can be an artisanal beauty product that actually is about that and not just about the brand,” she says.
Allison worked on refining the recipe, making the creams over and over again. Her family friend decided not to pursue the venture (she’d already retired from the botanical business) and eventually returned to Chile.
In late 2015 Allison launched the online store from her West End apartment and six months later Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and goop were featuring Sangre de Fruta.
In the early days Allison would make her products in her kitchen and recruit friends to come for wine and cheese in that little apartment and package orders. Two days after giving birth to her now two-year-old daughter, Allison was back stuffing orders. The business was growing and she needed help.
“I remember thinking, who would I get to help me if I needed to make more,” says Allison. “It shouldn’t be someone in cosmetology because it’s all chemicals,” she says. “That’s just nothing to do with what I make.
“What we make is more like food. It’s like pastries. It’s like a dessert.”
Turns out, it’s a lot like chocolatiering.
Nicholas Fritz and his husband have lived on Bowen for seven years. The two met while Nicholas was living in a small West End heritage building apartment (the same one that would later launch Sangre de Fruta). They fell in love and moved to Bowen Island and had frequent house guests of Allison and her partner Andy.
It so happens that Nicholas studied chocolatiering under Cocoa West’s Joanne Mogridge, had a background in branding and design and a passion for herbs and essential oils.
“I saw my one of my dearest best friends start this amazing business and I thought to myself, how incredible would it be to partner up with her and to build this thing together,” says Nicholas.
About a year and a half ago Nicholas and another friend of theirs, Tanner Johnston, joined the business as partners.
And Allison and her family moved to Bowen, right next door to Nicholas.
From their kitchens the two friends (Allison and Nicholas) whipped up batches of products for stores like Neiman Marcus and the orders that kept coming.
As there are no fillers or preservatives in Sangre de Fruta products, making the whipped butter-like consistency of a cream that then melts on the skin, is a day-long process of whipping, cooling and tempering. Just like making chocolate.
“It’s very very, very labor intensive,” says Allison.
So the time came for Sangre de Fruta to get its own space and its own store front, which opens this weekend.
“It’s really kind of cool that we’re going full circle as a society and finding our way back to the natural way,” says Nicholas. “I think we’re sort of on that path as a community and it’s an exciting thing to do to bring something to the table that is not only natural but also moment of luxury for yourself too.”
The dream is to eventually have a little farm, a creamery on Bowen Island but the first step is the store front opening this weekend. Sangre de Fruta will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and the launch party is Saturday May 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 563 Artisan Lane.