Tiffany Washington Farian, Founder, Pineapple Home Apothecary
Tiffany Washington Farian is an art historian with a deep appreciation for details, history and the combined sensory elements that go into making her products. Her company Pineapple Home Apothecary is a unique combination of historical inspiration and scientific advancements in skincare. Tiffany’s products, skincare, bath & body, candles and jewelry, all have a nostalgic aspect that makes every product a pleasure to use.
My wife and I are big fans of these products and I am excited to share Pineapple Home Apothecary with you all.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and Pineapple Apothecary.
I’m an Art Historian, a mother, and a business owner. I live in a semi-rural area in Northeast Ohio. love taking walks with my family, reading, painting, visiting historic architecture and museums, drinking wine with friends, and decorating my Georgian Revival home.
What was your inspiration to start your own company? What keeps you going and where do you find inspiration?
I think many of my childhood experiences led up to it, though I didn’t know it at the time. My paternal grandmother used and loved really wonderful toiletries and perfumes she purchased from her travels around the world. When they would visit us each year, I recall the bathroom and bedroom she and my grandfather used always smelled amazingly like the blend of all of her gorgeous products. My maternal grandparents were farmers in Romania and my grandfather made the family’s soap. Their rural and Old World lifestyle carried over a bit when they moved to Ohio and I grew up hearing about, and learning, how to use things that you grow for more than just cuisine.
When I was in graduate school and met my best friend we both quickly learned we share a passion and curiosity for skincare and makeup. We spent such long hours shopping and talking about it and said someday we’d like to start our own line. But it was never more than a fleeting thought. My inspiration to actually dabble in the creation of anything like this didn’t occur until I became a mother to my son, who has extremely sensitive skin. I grew frustrated with applying expensive prescription creams for his eczema because they didn’t often help. Immediately I immersed myself in medical journals to read about it and also to learn the basics of the ingredients in most commercial products. I decided I didn’t want those ingredients on my son, so I set to work learning what an alternative would look like. After a few years of intense reading, I started to experiment on my own.
I gain inspiration from conversations with friends and family, learning what they would love to use, but cannot find. That really keeps me going almost as much as a positive review from a customer or friend. If I make something and learn it helps others or that it brings them joy, that really inspires me to keep at it. I also happen to have extremely sensitive skin and cannot use most products on the market. Creating things that work for me, and produce results, is such motivation.
How does your training as an art historian influence your work?
Being an art historian seems to play a role in every facet of my life, actually. Its strongest influence in my business comes from my love, and great capacity for, research. I am able to read intensively, analyze, and summarize rather serious information pretty well and I enjoy doing it. I research everything and, for Pineapple Home Apothecary, that really plays a huge part of what makes me comfortable enough to put my products out for others to use. I also spent the majority of my life learning to look at things with a very critical and detail-oriented eye, so I demand perfection of my products and strive for a high standard.
As a relative of George Washington, how does your heritage play into your work? Do your Romanian roots also play a part in your work?
I recall my late paternal grandfather had a cologne from Caswell Massey that was the formula used by George Washington. Seeing that on his bureau (which I now have in my bedroom), and unscrewing the cap and smelling it when I went to visit them, transported my imagination to the 18th century and I loved to imagine what life was like then. Scent is a very powerful memory trigger for me and I absolutely love creating products with fragrances that take me back to a time or place in my life. Additionally, I have a serious love for the symmetry and aesthetics of Georgian architecture. My company name is an homage to the Colonial American regard for the pineapple. I just recently learned it was George Washington’s favorite fruit! Colonial Americans used to rent pineapples to display on their tables at dinner parties. It symbolized exquisite hospitality and high style. I love it visually, and love that idea.
Yes, my Romanian roots play a significant role in that I am fascinated by the use of natural ingredients in skincare products. I grow many of my own ingredients and I think it channels my Romanian family and ancestors who created everything they needed from what they grew. I love to plant new things and think of ways it can help my family or customers. My Castile soap, which is literally made of two ingredients, is made from an ancient recipe. Not only can it be used for your skin, but it can be used as a laundry soap or to take stains out of fabrics. It’s just the kind of thing my grandparents made and used.
What are the most rewarding parts of your work and the most challenging part of running your own company?
The most challenging part is that I literally do every single thing myself. I make, package, ship, market, and research everything on my own. That also makes it rewarding for me, however. I taught myself how to make everything I do (it took me years to arrive at my lotion and soap recipes), and the fact that I, and my customers, love them, is a great reward for me. It’s hard, sometimes, to be a one-woman show because I am also a mom to two children, I work as an independent scholar and write for museums, journals and encyclopedias, maintain my household, and help my husband with his business on occasion. It’s quite a lot, but Pineapple Home Apothecary is such a source of fun, creativity and challenge for me that I wouldn’t trade it.
What advice would you share with others who want to create their own business?
Figure out how to use your assets and stay true to who you are every step of the way. Think long and hard how it will affect those with whom you are close and realize that, however much time you think your business will take from your time with them is less than it actually will be if you don’t set and stick to a limit. Research your competitors before you pour money and time into something and check the local state laws that pertain to your industry and make sure you are always in compliance. Lastly, don’t devalue your time.
Have any favorite travel destinations inspired your products?
I currently have a soap, Barra, inspired by my time in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland and a complex coffee scented candle inspired by a cafe inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Austria. My college dorm inspired a candle called Oxford and the Cleveland Museum of Art’s old Garden Court inspired a lotion called Atrium. It’s safe to say that anywhere I’ve been or go that moves me deeply usually either has an art-historical or powerful geographic element to it and, inevitably, those experiences show up somehow in my products.
What are your future goals for the company? Where do you see the company in 5 years?
I’d love to expand my customer base. I see myself doing more of the same, perhaps more efficiently. As my children become more independent I will be able to devote more time to Pineapple Home Apothecary and continue to hone my skills. I look forward to growing, learning, mixing and making.
Thank you, Tiffany!
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