Tell us a little about your brand. Where does the name come from?
The focus of my brand is to combine art, beauty, and travel into one great product. My soaps are all named after beautiful Canadian landscapes and have unique scents reminiscent of the places they are named after.
The name Anto came from my dog BFF. I was struggling to come up with a brand name and my pal said, “name it after your dog! Everyone loves dogs.” So that’s what I did.
Tell us about your background and any past experiences that have shaped your work and your brand.
BeforeI got into soap making, I worked in land management and mapping. Although Iloved this career, I craved a more free and creative work environment. I thinkI have brought my love of Yukon, my love of the land, and my love of mapping intothe art of soap making. At least I hope I have!
Travel is another big part of my life. I love creating memories of people’s favourite places, or introducing people to somewhere new and magical.
When did you first start making your own bath and body products?
Ibegan making soap as a hobby back in 2013. My mother gave me a soap makinglesson as a Christmas present. There is only so much soap you can usepersonally, so it slowly grew into a business. Anto Yukon has been my full-timegig for a year and a half now.
Where do you source the ingredients and scents that you use in your products?
Most of my base materials come from various Canadian suppliers. I source ethical and sustainable oils. I also incorporate wild harvested plants into some of my soaps, and all of my oils, balms, and bath salts. We are very lucky in the Yukon to have such magical wild plants all around us. I carefully harvest in ways that are respectful to the environment, which is very important to me.
Can you tell us a little about your studio space and the process behind making soaps?
I am just finishing up renovations on a new studio space in downtown Whitehorse! I am so excited to finally have a dedicated and well-suited space for production. Soap has a long cure time, so one of the big challenges is forecasting how much soap will be ordered in the upcoming months and having the space to store it while it cures.
All of your soaps are wrapped in packaging that literally is a work of art! Can you tell us a little about the artist and how you came to work with her?
I first saw Meghan Hildebrand’s work in a café in Whitehorse. I fell in love instantly. Although she was born in Yukon, she has now made Powell River her home. She is also inspired by the northern landscape, and she creates very whimsical paintings infused with a sense of place and nature. I think we are a perfect fit for each other, and I am so honoured to be surrounded by her art every day.
Can you tell us about the names of the different soaps and some of the inspiration behind them?
My soaps are all named after places. I have two lines: the Yukon line, and the Canada line. Creating new soaps is a bit like a dance. I am inspired by beautiful places, but these places must work with a scent, design, or harvested material in some way. Each bar is reminiscent of the place it is named after. It can be a challenge to find the link – but a fun challenge.
For instance, the Kluane soap bar is named after the immensely gorgeous Kluane region here in Yukon. It is the home of the Kluane First Nation as well as the largest non-polar glacial ice field. Climate change has created some big changes in this region, and with receding glaciers comes large deposits of glacial silt. I collect this silt and use it in my soap.
Who are some of your favourite artists, designers, and makers?
This is a tough question to answer in a small amount of space! I am constantly inspired by the amazing talent I see every day (thank you Instagram for shoving it in my face). Of course, Meghan Hildebrand is my very first and foremost answer. Yukon artist, Rosemary Scanlon, is also an amazing talent. She creates amazing watercolours that remind me a bit of Frida Kahlo due to their story within a story. And I am a huge HUGE huge fan of the Inuit artwork that comes out of Cape Dorset. I was lucky enough to travel to Nunavut this month and scooped up a print of my own.
I am in love with the jeweler Beton Brut out of Saskatoon. She creates pieces that are so well crafted, inspired by the brutalist architecture movement. I love her work, her aesthetic, her branding – it’s all so good.
And functional art – my pottery collection is my vice. I have recently discoveredYukon potter Astrid Kruse who makes very unique landscape-inspired pieces.Also, last but most certainly not least – the ever-inspired Sam Knopp. This lady’s pottery is on another level of art, whimsy, and attention to detail. The bottoms of her pots are sanded to sublime softness – so not only will you be mesmerized by the look but also by the feel.