By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – Of the half dozen or more boutiques popping up in Yukon, each one finds a unique style or offering.
When Gwen Brackett, owner of the Teal Turtle, started her boutique, the clothing was just an excuse for her real passion in crafting luxurious body care products.
She opened her store at 419 W. Main Street two years ago after she outgrew her home as a business hub. In that short time, the boutique has evolved and she’s learned more than she anticipated.
“I started out with bath bombs when those were really becoming popular,” she said. “Now everyone is doing them. I went to Affair of the Heart and didn’t bother bringing them because every fifth booth had them.”
She started adding clothing to the boutique to “fill out the store” but a big draw for her customers became the body car products she began making for customers. Brackett is a former pediatric nurse and her love of science led her to craft soaps, lotions, and face scrubs that are friendly to sensitive skin.
“I have an RN who sends all her eczema patients out here for the soaps,” she said. “I use shea butter, cocoa butter, and gentle things like that which you won’t find in other markets.”
Brackett developed a face scrub that was safe for sensitive skin and complied with the new law which banned microbeads in 2015. Her scrubs, in lavendar, honeysuckle, and unscented, are for those who do not tolerate fragrance. Her products at the Teal Turtle are a safe alternative, Brackett said.
Bath bombs that fizz and fizz with bubbles, shower gel, and sugar scrubs come in a variety of scents and colors. Brackett took classes to better learn how to blend oils and fragrance. Her hand wash naturally scented with cardamom has also been popular with one customer in particular.
“The man who co-owns Green Chile Kitchen lives in northern California. His family runs this restaurant and he comes in here and buys my hand wash. He cleans me out once a year, buys up all I have. He said it’s the best hand soap he’s ever used,” she said.
Her clients are also furry friends.
“I have a pet shampoo for sensitive pets. I have a Corgi with really sensitive skin and so I developed a shampoo for him,” she said.
Brackett’s experiments did not stop with body care products. She sells a line of coconut oil based laundry soap and an accompanying stain stick. She said both sell well, but she cannot keep the stain stick in stock. The stain stick is a rendering of the laundry soap she makes.
“I have a customer who told me there’s nothing it won’t work on. I’ve got out sharpie marker, coffee, red lipstick out of the carpet, and it’s $5 and lasts forever. You just rub it on the stain and then wash it,” she said.
The laundry soap also lasts quite a while. One tablespoon will do 60 loads.
The body care and laundry care products may be her first love, but she also stays busy designing tee-shirts and keeping fun, quirky and fashionable clothing items in the shop.
A big holiday seller are the socks she makes with messages on the feet. “If you can read this,” one foot reads on the bottom, “then bring me a beer” the other foot says.“I sold 350 pairs of those socks last Christmas,” she said. “I was up to three in the morning filling the orders. They were very popular and I’ve already started getting orders for these again this year.”
A small area with children’s clothing shows carefully chosen lines such as Mud Pie Hats and a line of crochet baby hats. Trendy blouses and accessories are also a given, but she keeps them interesting and fresh for customers who are looking for something different.
The bath bombs do still keep her filling orders in the store and some wholesale accounts, but the clothing and body care take up much of her time and showroom stock.
“When my kids grew up, I thought about going back into nursing but I wanted to do something different. I haven’t looked back ever since,” she said.