This New Clean Skincare Boutique in Philly Is Dedicated to Empowering Women

Freedom Apothecary, a holistic beauty and wellness shop in Northern Liberties, wants to help you live your most radiant life.

Freedom Apothecary, owned by Morrisa Jenkins and Bonkosi Horn, is a new toxic-free skincare boutique in Northern Liberties. / Photograph courtesy of Freedom Apothecary

This post has been updated.

“Authenticity” is a broad term generally used to define anything that feels true to its mission or the culture it’s attempting to represent. Often, though, the buzz word can be pretty vague. How do you know something or someone is or isn’t “authentic”? Who really gets to decide what is or isn’t? And what the heck does it mean to live an authentic life?

Fortunately, a new holistic beauty and wellness boutique in Northern Liberties has worked to craft a new definition of authenticity, one that involves honesty, self-care, and connection. Freedom Apothecary carries toxin-free skincare and beauty products that’ll make your skin look as radiant as your personality. The goal: to have your beauty and wellness be as natural, free, and authentic as you are.

The NoLibs’ retail and events space was founded this past July by Morrisa Jenkins and Bonkosi Horn. The two became friends serendipitously in 2014, when Jenkins, who had just moved to Philadelphia, saw Horn with then lavender hair laughing on 13th Street in the Gayborhood. Jenkins was immediately drawn to Horn’s energy and felt they were destined to cross paths. Eventually the two connected through mutual friends, and, in 2017, Jenkins decided to ask Horn if she’d be willing to expand and rebrand Jenkins’ skincare line, Meaux Moisture, into a brick-and-mortar store. Horn, who co-owns Stripp’d Juice with her husband Khoran and has a background in brand strategy and engagement, was immediately on board.

Freedom Apothecary carries toxin-free skincare and beauty products from brands that are female-owned. / Photograph by Laura Brzyski

Freedom Apothecary’s mission, which centers on community building and empowering “anyone who has skin,” but especially women and women of color, is palpable from the moment you walk in the door. Besides the thoughtful conversation you’ll have with Jenkins and Horn (and more than likely, a hug from Horn), you’ll be greeted by a huge green “freedom” wall and a vibrant mural painted by Philly artist Dora Cuenca. The sleek natural wood shelves that line both sides of the store hold a range of skincare and beauty products, from oils made by Jenkins herself to serums from brands like Botnia and Noto. The vetting process for deciding which brands to put on their shelves is, at its core, supportive of others. “We have a non-negotiable list for the products we carry,” Horn says. “Everything is female-founded and clean, and we try to have as many women of color-owned brands as possible represented. We also have a genuine professional friendship with all of them.”

In addition to all the lotions, oils, serums, and creams on the shelves, Freedom Apothecary has a blend bar where customers can create their own one-of-a-kind, personalized skincare products. With the help of Jenkins or Horn, you’ll make and go home with body butter, body oil, a face mask, or bath salts. Plus, you can book a facial, deep skin cleanse, gua sha facial massage, or a 30-minute consultation with the shop’s in-house esthetician, Allyson Gluckman. And y’all, the treatment room is totally relaxing (and smells glorious).

At the shop, you can learn how to create your own customized skincare product at the blend bar. / Photograph by Laura Brzyski.

Not ready to take a deep dive into the skincare world? You’re in luck because Freedom Apothecary does more than just give you the ultimate glow up. It also serves as an event space where you can connect with others in an inclusive, welcoming environment. The shop frequently hosts wellness events, with past topics including self-care through breath work, making wellness accessible for all, and mental health for men. Early next year, Horn plans to launch a monthly book club.

The combo of beauty and wellness is what makes Freedom Apothecary stand out from other holistic skincare boutiques. “We’re focused on how we can truly create an inclusive, accessible space for wellness that doesn’t mean just buying a mask or body butter,” Horn says. And Jenkins agrees: “Wellness is something that everyone needs, and we want to provide that resource to everyone, even if it’s in the form of good conversation, positive energy, or just a space to breathe.”