Apothecary Sea Salts


Abby Karak-McDuffee and Steven McDuffee, owners of Pure Home Couture are true tastemakers. Expanding on their brand, Abby has handcrafted the shop's own line of apothecary sea salts, liquid soaps, milk bath soaks and candles. Sea salts are known for their mineral and therapeutic properties, but Abby's sea salts take it to a luxury level with decadent fragrances like Lavender Cedarwood and our favourite Cassis and Rose. 

Walk into Pure Home Couture and your imagination will easily transport you to old world Paris. We sat down to talk with Abby about her thoughts on living, making and relaxing in Hamilton.

Describe Pure Home Couture in three words.

Charming, French, evocative

What do you love about living and working in Hamilton?

I am a Hamilton girl, born and raised. I love it's authenticity. It is unpretentious and a diamond in the rough. Steve and I got married in 1980 and left for Vancouver the next morning and while that experience nurtured my creative essence, there is nothing like home. My dream is that Hamilton is on the verge of a cultural renaissance like the one we experienced in Vancouver in the early 80's.  

What drew you to the space that Pure Home Couture calls home?

When Steve said he was looking at a second floor space I was horrified, but upon first glance I felt transported to some atelier space in Paris and the fantasy ensued. The climb up those stairs was worth all that luscious space and possibilities, it was a blank canvas reminiscent of my fashion designer days.  

Pure Home Couture is a well established and successful independent business. Do you have any advice you can offer to entrepreneurs in the city who are just starting out?

Steve and I are both hopelessly entrepreneurial and are firm believers that "if you build it, they will come."   

What made you venture into crafting your own apothecary line?

I am so fortunate to have tried so many incredible products over the years but I am a maker of things. One day I held the mirror up to myself, wondering why couldn't I make candles? How hard could it be? The truth is I am fearless when it comes to making things, I have a divine faith that I can make just about anything. I wish I could say that I had that kind of strength in all aspects of my life. I have learned so much from my creative journey. I truly believe the world would be a better place if we all nurtured our creative sides.

How did you learn to craft these bath and body luxuries?

You can learn to do just about anything on the internet.

What benefits do using products with organic ingredients offer?

I have to go with my instincts here and believe that if something has fewer ingredients that I cannot pronounce, it must be better for us.  Some cosmetics cannot be made safely with all organic ingredients or without preservatives, so it's a bit of a compromise.  

What is your favourite scent?

I love the white flower scents like Linden, Orange Blossom and Peony because their fragrance evokes strong childhood memories. Like landmines in my memory, I think about simpler times when I collected flowers as a child and glued them onto my ears with toothpaste. However the designer in me thinks I have not yet found my favorite scent and I look forward to the discovery. Perhaps a trip to Grasse keeps me going?

What is your favourite product from your line?

I am a candle freak. I don't think I want to live in a world without the warmth of the light of a candle. The ritual of striking the match to light a new candle is right up there with opening a good bottle of wine or champagne. Maybe it's the promise of a small celebration or the cleansing of the day's worries.

We noticed you have added glycerin soaps and lip balms to the line. Any upcoming products we should be excited to try?

I just added hand & body lotion and am working on fragrance diffusers.  

What is your biggest beauty do and beauty don't?

My best asset is my youthful thinking, I am continuously inspired by youth culture and I am a careful observer of the evolution of aesthetic trends, fashion and people. But I also need to remind myself to embrace my age.  

How do you relax after work?

I feel so blessed to have found yoga to balance and calm me. I am guilty of showing my love for friends and family through food -- cooking has been for me the most rewarding small art project of all. Food was always and inspiration for my fashion, I named many of my dresses after delicacies like Dumpling Dresses, Meringue Skirts and Whipped Cream Ruffles...

Pure Home Couture

174 Locke Street South

Hamilton, ON

L8P 4A9