Meet the Crafters: Cosmic Tree Essentials

April 29, 2017 | Halifax Crafters Society

Attention all beauty (and chocolate) lovers! Beth Thompson has turned her sensitivity to conventional beauty products and love of essential oils into a holistic cosmetics company. Her wares include sultry mineral eye shadows, natural deodorant, creamy lipstick made with fair trade dark chocolate, and a dry shampoo scented with organic lemon and orange peel powders – just to name a few! It was no surprise to us that Beth’s favourite way to procrastinate is to conduct research. You can see the attention to detail and care she puts into all of her natural and inspired products. Find out more about Beth and Cosmic Tree Essentials below:

 What do you make?

I make fresh, natural, holistic cosmetics—everything from colour cosmetics to skin care and hair care. The colour cosmetics are inspired by the natural beauty of Maritime Canada and created with my own unique blends of cosmetic grade minerals. I offer loose Oread mineral and embossed Crucible Pressed foundations, blushes, bronzers, illuminators and eye shadows as well as Sylphide Mousse and Naiad Aqueous foundations, Lash Adorning Mascaras, Elemental Coloration Lipsticks (made with fair trade dark chocolate and artisan cast in a teardrop shaped mold) and Ethereal Luminosity Lip Glosses.

My facial care creations are named after water, fire and air elementals. Undina blends are for oily skin, Salamandra blends are for sensitive and combination skin and Sylphide blends are for dry and mature skin. They feature hydrosols I distill from Annapolis Valley yarrow, honeysuckle, cucumber, mint, calendula, goldenrod, hawthorn, apple, Queen Anne’s Lace, and the roses in my mother’s garden. For bath and body, I make Undine’s Bubbles Shower Gel, Salamander’s Spring Body Lotion, Seas of Time Bath Salts, Dryad’s Grove Body Powder, Elemental Strength Hand Cream and Oread’s Alchemy Natural Deodorant.

For hair care, the Dryad’s Orchard Shampoo and Conditioner are named after mythical tree spirits. They’re made with the aromatic essence of crisp, juicy, sweet Annapolis Valley Novaspy apples grown in the orchards of Suprima Farms by third-generation apple grower Richard Hennigar. They also contain horsetail distillate, pro-vitamin B5 and quinoa protein, and there’s nourishing Camelina Seed Oil from Hillcreek Family Farm in the conditioner, too. The Dryad’s Grove Dry Shampoos get their citrusy scent from certified organic lemon and orange peel powders blended with other herbs and spices.

What is your background/How did you get started?

I have a journalism degree and I had started out working for a publishing company in Ottawa, writing and editing newsletters primarily for public sector employees. From there, we moved to Vancouver and I was managing corporate web site strategy for a large telecommunications company. I’d had a bad reaction to a mascara during my university years, and I’d developed contact dermatitis on my hands which was aggravated every time I washed my hair with mainstream shampoos and conditioners.

Allergy testing revealed my skin was reacting to the formaldehyde donor preservatives in many cosmetics. With each new reaction I was more motivated to create my own natural cosmetics, beginning with skin and hair care, but I hadn’t yet figured out how.

Why do you do what you do?

While I was living in Vancouver, in my twenties, a friend introduced me to essential oils. One visit to the Gaia Gardens Herbal Apothecary and I was smitten, signing up for workshops to learn how to make potted lip glosses and cold creams, reading every book about essential oils I could find and collecting vials of essential oils along the way. Those early blends of essential oils and other plant oils and butters—apricot kernel oil and Nilotica shea butter are favourites of mine—felt good on my skin and also made me feel more grounded and connected to the earth. Then my husband at the time, Peter, landed a contract that took us to Guatemala. When we visited the Mayan ruins of Caracol in Belize, our guide showed us a towering Ceiba tree. He spoke about the significance of the Cosmic Tree for the Maya—a symbol of the interconnectedness of all life, rooted deep in the earth, its branches outstretched to cradle the heavens. The vision for Cosmic Tree Essentials came into focus that day and has been driving my creative development ever since. I felt called to create personal care blends, using essential oils, plant oils and butters, that I hoped would bring a sense of groundedness and connectedness to others.

When you’re not selling at Crafters markets, where can I find your work?

You can find a selection of Cosmic Tree Essentials products at Pete’s on Dresden in Halifax and at the Trainyard General Store in Dartmouth, at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market Saturdays from 8:30 to 1 and on the web site. As well, we’re on Facebook, on Instagram and on Twitter.

What makes Halifax Crafters different from other shows?

Halifax Crafters shows are juried and, for me, each call for submissions serves as a catalyst for creative development. Ideas for photographs of new work I’d like to include in my upcoming submission are always percolating at the back of my mind. Once I can envision the next round of photographs in my mind’s eye, I feel inspired to manifest that vision.

What are you excited about seeing at the Spring Market?

I am always excited to see the people who help make Cosmic Tree Essentials possible—words of encouragement and support, questions about my work, suggestions for new products, and the inspiration I get from seeing my fellow crafters and their work—all those influences help shape my creative evolution.

What inspires you to create?

I’m fascinated by colour theory and keep a finger on the pulse of colour trends and what’s on the runways each season. Often the inspiration to create comes from my interactions with clients—people will ask me to match the shade of a favourite lipstick or eye shadow that’s been discontinued by another company, or to create a natural alternative to a mainstream product they love. As a makeup artist, every time I apply makeup for a client, I’m assessing how each product is performing, how well it blends and harmonizes with the other products I’m using and with the client’s colouring.

Where do you do your work?

I have a dedicated atelier with a south facing bay window that catches the morning sun and from my stainless steel work table I can look out at our garden, the rose bushes and the clematis my husband Steve planted a couple of summers ago.

What kind of music do you listen to while you work?

I play the flute and joined the Acadia University Symphonic Band last September so I’ll often listen to a playlist of the pieces in the repertoire for our current concert cycle. This past year that included Darius Milhaud’s Suite Francaise, John Mackey’s Sheltering Sky, some Percy Grainger…

A place you love?

I love gardens, and the beach, the feeling of sand between my toes, the sound of the waves.

An artwork or artist you love?

Salvador Dali and, closer to home, my friend, Acadian artist Nora Robicheau, who created the beautiful illustrations of chamomile, calendula and lavender that surround the wordmark on my labels. Nora’s colourful artwork is available at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market Saturdays from May through December.

Favourite time of the year?

Summer, when gardens are in bloom and we can enjoy the beach…

Three things you need in order to create?

I work best when I can count on having a block of time without distractions, which means I often work late into the night—at the moment, it’s 4:21 a.m. and the birds are starting to sing. The tools of my trade—my lipstick mold, a coffee grinder, a gram scale—and chocolate.

Palette of Embossed Matte Eyeshadows with the shades Beth has been working on for our upcoming Spring Market. They’re also available individually or in smaller palettes that hold 4 shades. In the open pots above and below the palette are Cosmic Tree’s new Minimalist Mattes—matte colour for lids, cheeks and lips in frosted jars (the shade above the palette is Pink Lady’s Slipper and below the palette is Chocolate Cosmos).

A favourite quote?

“Here in this body are the sacred rivers: here are the sun and moon as well as all the pilgrimage places… I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body.” Saraha

A film or book you love?

Howards End by E.M. Forster

What’s your favourite way to procrastinate?

I absolutely love to research—make an offhand comment to me, like “snow can’t last forever” and within a day or two I’ll be reading up on the ice age and the year 1816, also known as the Year There Was No Summer, the year Mary Shelley conceived Frankenstein while vacationing near Lake Geneva, where the weather was too inclement to enjoy outdoor activities…