Lowell’s Red Antler Apothecary specializes in organic skin care

By Melissa Fedorchuk

It’s early morning and Rachel Chandler is cooking up some delicious smelling concoctions. But the fragrant fruits, herbs and spices wafting from her kitchen isn’t meant for lunch. Instead, it’s meant to be lathered.

But, ingesting her wares wouldn’t hurt either. Chandler is the owner of Red Antler Apothecary — an all natural, 100 percent chemical free soap and beauty care company.  The business is committed to creating safe products made from food-grade vegetable oils, shea and cocoa butters, organic spices, herbs, flowers and oils like lavender and rosemary, much of which is sourced from local farms and her own sprawling gardens.

Her motto: Don’t put anything on your skin if you can’t eat it. Companies testing products on animals and adding harmful, unnecessary ingredients to simple hygiene and household cleaners were the driving force behind Chandler’s business.

“We kept looking at all the chemicals in everything we were putting on and into our bodies everyday from deodorant and toothpaste to shampoo and laundry detergent,” Chandler said. “I started becoming annoyed by the concept of feeding a corporate bottom line at the cost of poisoning the earth, myself and my family.”

Chandler, who experimented and perfected the art of making honey (she’s certified by the Merrimack Valley Beekeeper’s Association), cheese and jam from scratch, dove into crafting soap when she wanted a special gift for her newborn niece. After all, whose skin is more sensitive than a baby’s? Six years and 15 soap varieties later, Chandler has added shampoos, moisturizers, household cleaners and fix-it-alls to her homegrown product line.

Her dish detergent ($4), which she calls “amazing, pleasant smelling and totally functional for cutting grease and cleaning up stubborn surface messes,” took her a year of trial and error. But mastering the chemistry has been well worth the effort.

Now she’s enjoying the sweet smell of success from online sales at redantlerapothecary.com, and plans to open a retail shop inside Mill No. 5 at 250 Jackson St. this fall.

Moving through her garden, Chandler ticks off the names of different herbs like a mad scientist and snips up some fresh cleavers, a hollow prickly plant she uses to make her popular Leave it to Cleavers super hydrating topical cream — her current work in progress. Back in her kitchen that doubles as a lab, she cuts, juices and strains. The liquid going into the moisturizer ($15 for 7oz) smells and tastes like fresh cut grass.

All of her natural products are eagerly tried, tested and coveted by family and friends.

“It satisfies my creativity and it’s empowering,” she says. “It’s so much more freeing to be part of the movement to reclaim control over how we take care of our bodies.”

To learn more, see a complete list of products, or to find her in person at several area farmer’s markets visit redantlerapothecary.com. Deliveries can be made in Lowell and Chandler does all kinds of custom orders for weddings, parties and special events. For more information call 978-726-7749.


About The Author

Melissa Fedorchuk
Staff Writer

Melissa Fedorchuk is a lifelong writer cultivated by UMass Lowell and all the local coffee shops. Half pop-culture nerd, half wannabe fashionista, Melissa keeps her wild-haired head in check by spoon feeding herself Disney GIFs and spending far too much money on books and clothes. When she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a Word document, she is obsessing over honey bees and reading as many YA novels as she can get her hands on.