Photos by Steve Smith, VisionFire Studios
Inspired by a passion for health and wellbeing, sisters Miranda and Alicia Teasdale have opened a full-service compounding pharmacy and a low-waste shop. They are on a mission to share the know-how for a sustainable lifestyle. Welcome to Teasdale Apothecary Co.
Sisters Alicia and Miranda Teasdale have always shared a passion for health and wellbeing. Now they share a business promoting both.
In January, Miranda, a pharmacist, and Alicia, a former social worker who’s been on a low-waste lifestyle journey for the past decade, teamed up to open Teasdale Apothecary Co. in Antigonish, N.S., a full-service compounding and community pharmacy and a one-stop low-waste household and personal product shop.
“It’s a project combining both of our passions for health and wellbeing,” says Alicia, 34.
Miranda, 27, agrees. “It’s really exciting. It sounds like two different worlds, but they can blend well together. The end product has surpassed my expectations.”
It’s something new for the area. Customers can come in with their own clean, dry container to buy bathroom cleaner or refill shampoo. They can browse and buy from a raw beauty bar to make their own products. And they can have prescription medication dispensed in a reusable glass bottle — the first Nova Scotia pharmacy (it’s believed) to offer a reusable glass vial program.
It’s a point of pride for the co-founders, from St. Andrews, Antigonish County, who keep a tally by the compounding lab on the plastic prescription pill bottles diverted from the landfill.
Sustainability a focus
The idea for the apothecary first percolated in early 2020 while the sisters were living in Alberta. On the first weekend of the COVID-19 lockdown, Alicia, then working as a social worker in Calgary, pitched a business idea to Miranda, who was then managing a compounding pharmacy in Fort McMurray.
What about setting up a pharmacy in their hometown?
A drugstore, but one that sells only products that are good for people and good for the planet. Products they stand behind.
Miranda was in. The sisters knew they wanted to move home but hadn’t planned to do so anytime soon. Six months into the pandemic, the idea gained more traction. When their dad discovered the building at 65 Beech Hill Road — a perfect location for their business — was up for sale, it sped up the process.
They incorporated in fall 2020 and by March 2021, they’d packed up, moved home, and began renovating the space, aided by Miranda’s partner, a carpenter who helped take the lead on renovations.
“The footprint worked for us. We were able to open it up,” says Alicia about the building, which was mostly vacant when they bought it, but had at times housed an engineering company, office space, and originally a car dealership.
The pharmacy and store fill 2,500 square feet. Customers are greeted by an inviting earth tone palette, with rattan lights, wood accents, plenty of green, leafy plants, and white walls. “The décor is earthy, calming. That was intentionally done,” says Alicia.
The building also provides office space for several private practitioners, including social workers, an acupuncturist, therapist, and psychologist.
What’s an apothecary?
By far, the most common question they receive is about their name and what it means.
Simply put, it means pharmacy. “Vintage apothecaries were known to be focused on community and relationships,” they say. “We’re tapping into the vintage nostalgia.”
Both sisters say they loved when an elderly woman stopped into the store, looked around, and said, “This is what stores used to look like.”
“That was a favourite compliment,” says Alicia.
She says they’re striving for a feeling that isn’t clinical or dismissive, that’s welcoming and lets people know they care about them and their health.
The sisters describe Teasdale Apothecary as a full-service community pharmacy, offering services such as injections, medication reviews, and prescribing. They have a fully regulated lab where they do compounding, making custom medications, including gummies and liquids for kids who can’t swallow pills, and making medications in custom doses, such as custom pain cream.
Miranda says she didn’t set out to become involved in compounding pharmacy, but when she did, she loved it. “Medication is not always a one-size-fits-all. It needs to be tailored to meet a patient’s needs.”
Hand-selected for less waste
For their pharmacy section, they hand-selected items and as much as possible choose ones that fit their ethos. For instance, they sell pregnancy test strips from Canadian company OVRY, which are paper strips that can be bought in bulk. They’re cost-friendly, they say, as you’re not paying for packaging and produce less waste. Similarly, they carry products like Tru Earth laundry strips, where there’s no jug or liquid.
The rest of the shop is filled with drugstore staples with some giftware options. Throughout, the focus is decidedly environmentally friendly with refill stations, a raw beauty bar, and intentionally sourced products aligning with their values. The sisters also sought out Canadian companies and small companies. Many are owned by women.
Their bulk products come in barrels or drums and are sold by weight. While they do sell bottles, they encourage customers to take in a clean, dry container (a mason jar or yogurt container, etc.) for refillable options ranging from shampoo and bath salts to cleaners and dish soap to herbs and botanicals. The empty container is tared on a scale and customers pay only for the product.
With the raw beauty bar (think aloe vera, shea butter), customers can buy in bulk for a fraction of the cost, know what they’re putting on their body, and experiment with making their own products. “I love talking to folks,” says Alicia. “I love helping them on a journey to a self-sufficiency lifestyle by making their own products. It’s a journey. We are all learning at different places. We’ll talk you through if you’re interested in making a few swaps.”
Shampoo and conditioner bars from Unwrapped Life of Calgary (a staff favourite) were the first products they knew they wanted to carry. “They’re amazing,” the sisters enthuse. “People will say ‘Oh my gosh, my hair. It feels so clean, so soft.’” They love that it’s package-free, but they also love the product.
Miranda is also a fan of Anointment, a skincare line from New Brunswick with a focus on pre- and post-natal care.
The French pink clay mask has been hard to keep in stock, while another popular item has been the ‘Sleep Plus’ gummy from HerbaLand, a B.C. company producing vitamins and supplements in gummy form with high-quality, plant-based ingredients and no artificial sugars.
As they sell these items in bulk, Miranda says customers can come in and buy a handful. If they like the product, they can come back for more. She says people like this option, and they like not paying for packaging and reducing waste.
Alicia says people are always surprised by the prices, especially for the household cleaners, where jars can often be filled for a few dollars.