With six stores in London, one in the US and (fingers crossed) plans to expand here — "We would love to bring our full concept to Australia." — The Organic Pharmacy is growing from strength to strength. The brainchild of Margo Marrone and her husband Franco, it's your one-stop shop for all things organic. A place you can head to for professional advice about alternative health and pick up some organic skincare while you're there. Here, we speak to Margo about the store's concept, how it's grown and what she can't live without . . .
Tell us how The Organic Pharmacy came about . . . I’ve been a conventional pharmacist all my working life. As a young girl my first job was as a Saturday girl in my local pharmacy and they were one of the last remaining old fashioned pharmacies where herbal medicines were still compounded. I decided to study pharmacy specialising in herbal medicine but it wasn’t until I discovered homeopathy that I knew I had found a system of medicine that could treat any ailment. It was while studying homeopathy that I came across the term organic. I immediately changed my diet to organic and a year later, pregnant with my daughter, I came across an article that talked about certain ingredients in cosmetics that were potentially carcinogenic and harmful to the body. I rushed to check the ingredients in the organic cream I was using at the time and was shocked to find five of them listed in there. I went to my husband and put to him the idea of The Organic Pharmacy — he loved the idea and as a graphic designer worked on the logo and image.
Keep reading . . .How did you set yourself apart from other organic brands? Organic skincare had a bit of bad reputation — not very nice smelling, not very effective and old fashioned textures. The image of organic was very rustic so we wanted to change all of that to be the first to introduce something more glamorous, professional and modern, bringing organic up to date with modern textures, and using vitamins and high-tech extracts combined with beautiful organic extracts. The skincare was developed because many clients were asking about skin conditions and I would custom-blend homeopathic creams for them using the medicinal herbs in the dispensary. The results were amazing and clients kept coming back again and again asking for more things. Eventually the skincare evolved as friends sent in their friends. Health is at the heart of our brand — the core and everything we do is to improve health and wellbeing. Ultimately we wanted to provide an entire lifestyle service under one roof and to improve health through complimentary medicine. I always had the policy never to say no. I believed that any ailment could be helped and that any you just had to know how — we still follow that philosophy today.
Do organic products work on their own or must they be used as part of a lifestyle change? We have two types of customers, those who want a lifestyle change and want to go organic for better health, and those who come to us because they have seen their friends' skin and wondered what they have done because they look so good. So in effect our organic products work on their own very well even without a lifestyle change although I have to say, most people when they become aware, will change their lifestyle slowly.
What do you believe is the biggest misconception about organic products? They smell bad, they are ineffective, they are not as effective as chemical products and they are expensive.
What do you think everyone should know about organic products? Just like non-organic products, quality varies hugely and you can find a simple product with hardly any actives to highly sophisticated formulations that are very effective like ours. They should not all be painted with the same brush. I would love people to think of organic products as an extension of their health. Organic skincare not only reduces our exposure to toxins but also enhances our skin’s health and our health.
Tune in tomorrow for more from Margo, including her must-haves and top toxins to be wary of.