K. Hall Designs has been hand-mixing their natural soaps and artisanal candles in St. Louis for the past 16 years, but as of last week, the company is bringing all that honeysuckle-scented goodness to other, bigger cities. The first out-of-state K. Hall boutique, called U.S. Apothecary, recently opened at 3451 N. Southport Ave., bringing a bevy of natural products to a neighborhood already obsessed with clean, stylish living.
“We've had some nice successes [in Chicago] already, and we're interested in expanding on that,” says Kelley Barr, the brand's founder. Her products can already be found in about 2,000 boutiques across the country, but when it came to opening up another brick-and-mortar boutique, there was no place like Chicago. “I'm from Northern Michigan, and Chicago was just our city,” says Barr. “It seemed like a natural next step for us.”
In 1998, when K. Hall Designs first began slinging peony-Shea-butter lotions and juniper-and-geranium facial tonics, the market for those products was much smaller and more skeptical than it is today. According to Barr, the division between natural beauty aficionados and unbelievers was “about 50/50—people didn't care as much.” Today, a quick jog down Southport reveals just how different the scene has become—stop into the neighborhood's massive Anthropologie and you'll be hard-pressed to find a product that doesn't market itself as natural (or at least natural-ish).
Those who like their cucumber-and-gin candles made local will be happy to hear that K. Hall products will be coming from a mere 304 miles away. “We manufacture all the products you see on our website, and everything is handmade,” says Barr. “If you were to come to St. Louis and see our 'factory,' it's just people melting beeswax by hand.”
Barr has been mixing up concoctions for herself since she was a little girl, and those habits die hard. Today, she says she always has a “pot of something” bubbling nearby. “I made some beeswax lip balm recently,” she says. “It'll actually be in stores not too long from now.” Stop by the new U.S. Apothecary store at 3451 N. Southport Ave. and keep an eye out for the new balm and more.