By Justin Franz, 2-08-13
||Caption: Indigo Cantor describes how she formulates different scents of Montana Farmacy soaps and how she makes herbal remedies while standing in front of a closet packed with ingredients at her home in Trego. Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
TREGO – The tiny community here is a long way – physically and culturally – from the streets of Los Angeles. And Indigo Cantor is fine with that.
“I had gone from being a mountain girl to being part of that L.A. system,” Cantor said of her 15 years living in California and working in the music industry. “Having grown up in (Idaho), I was really close to nature and being in L.A. was like being in a cesspool (to me).”
Today, Cantor is far removed from that “cesspool,” living in Trego with her partner, Paul Grove, and operating the Glacier Ridge Ranch and Montana Farmacy. The latter is where she sells a variety of homemade, all-natural products, such as soaps, teas, jams, old-time remedies and herbs and spices.
In the mid-1990s, Cantor had grown frustrated with the life she was leading and began searching for a place that looked a little more like home, Ketchum, Idaho. She found it in Grass Valley, Calif., a small community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Cantor decided to go “off the grid” and began making just about everything she needed to survive, including soaps. The process was much the same as it is today.
Starting with essential oils and other natural materials – be it dried herbs or chunks of orange peel – she mixes the items together until she comes up with a pleasing scent. After that, she mixes the oil with avocado butter and places it in a long mold to harden. Once solidified, she cuts off bars of finished soap.
A grouping of Montana Farmacy products, including assorted teas and huckleberry and cherry jams, is seen on Indigo Cantor’s countertops at her home in Trego.
“It’s super fun to make and super rewarding,” she said. “It’s kind of like making music – it just happens.”
Pleased with her initial results, Cantor began giving the soap to friends during the holidays. In 1998, after moving back to Ketchum, she opened the Sun Valley Soap Company.
The soap company was a major success and Cantor operated it until a few years ago, when she and Grove hit the road in an old Airstream trailer, volunteering across the country. She said the two would go from town to town, seek out an organization like a food bank and ask how they could help.
In 2010, the pair found their way to Trego where Cantor began a new job as “head doer of all things” at the Glacier Ridge Ranch. She opened Montana Farmacy in 2011. Along with the soaps that made her previous business so popular, Cantor sells herbs, teas, jams and remedies, most of which she makes herself. Inside the main lodge, she has a small shop but acknowledges the vast majority of her products are sold online. The old-time remedies are some of the most popular items.
A selection of handmade Montana Farmacy soaps is seen for sale in the gift shop of the Glacier Ridge Ranch in Trego.
Cantor said her business’ success has a lot to do with her surroundings. Located along U.S. Highway 93 between Whitefish and Eureka, Trego is a rural community in a rural state.
“It’s a lot better to look outside and see nature than to see another building,” she said. “I absolutely feel like the most blessed person on the planet everyday I look outside.”
At the same time, Cantor realizes that she is not going to get a lot of walk-in traffic at her shop in Trego, which is well off the main road. But again, like her move from Los Angeles to Trego, she’s fine with that.
“I make a certain amount and I sell it and then it’s gone,” she said. “I’m not looking to make millions.”
For more information about Cantor’s business, visit www.montanafarmacy.com
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