WTD Interviews

Cardea AuSet: a Wellness Knight in Shining Ethically-Sourced Armour

If you ever find yourself thinking: “I need Palo Santo, a couple of crystals, and a new facial mist before the full moon and I have no time to go to three different stores,” we have good news: Cardea AuSet has arrived to solve all your #wellnessproblems.

Launching today, September 20, at 10am, Cardea AuSet is a Canadian plant-based e-tailer for the modern wellness woman who needs her all-natural products and altar staples but also wants to source them from the comfort of her couch. Products include a series of essential oil mists, a benonite and activated charcoal face mask, a mineral soak, hand-poured candles, and the aforementioned Palo Santo and crystal bundles, among others. 

We stopped by Cardea AuSet’s Toronto pop-up to see some of their products and meet the founders (Taylor Williams and Jennifer Bonato) IRL and fell in love with their gorgeous and luxurious products. Read on to find out how the brand was born and where they’re headed next.

cardea auset

Well TO Do: Tell us about how the idea for Cardea AuSet was born.

Taylor Williams: Cardea AuSet kind of happened organically. Jen and I have always talked about “doing something.” I remember years ago we sat down and wanted to design and publish a Zine, but it never came to life. This time around we sat down with a couple books and found the perfect name and with that, the products followed. Everything Cardea AuSet stands for is a reflection of who we are and what we love.

WTD: Tell us a bit about you and your backgrounds. Have you always been enamored with wellness practices and products?

Taylor: I think my yoga revolution in 2008 is where I began my wellness journey and with that health-conscious beauty products followed. Now-a-days I try my best to eat and think healthy, but sometimes it’s nice to eat a bowl of ice cream and watch a movie.

Jennifer Bonato: I’ve been interested in food for years – where it comes from, how it grows, how it lives, who farms it, etc. etc. etc., so, I think my wellness practices stem from that. My Grad school research looked at social and political issues around genetically modified organisms in agriculture, so I feel very strongly about choosing non-GMO products in terms of what I consume and what we produce. Probably the other half of my wellness routine is hot yoga – after nearly a decade, I still don’t think anything beats the detoxification of a good stretch and sweat. That being said, I, too think that sometimes it’s nice to eat ice cream and watch a movie.

WTD: What made you decide to open an e-retail business instead of a brick-and-mortar shop?

Taylor: Our goal when launching Cardea AuSet was to create a collection of goods that we ourselves would love and use. We didn’t want to lose sight of that by adding the extra stress of a location. We have of course built this into our long-term goals.

Jennifer: We also intentionally chose to share our products through our own web store rather than try to enter retailers so that we would be able to build a direct connection – a two-way dialogue sans intermediaries – with our clients.

cardea auset

WTD: Your products are broken down into “ritual” “apothecary” “body” and “herbal” and all are meant to be used in your daily rituals. Can you tell us some of your daily rituals?

Taylor: It’s not my daily ritual, but since the previous New Moon I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to take more baths and use this time to meditate. I of course use ROSA and add a few drops of whatever my favorite essential oil is at the moment (currently Jasmine). I might even have a glass of wine.

Jennifer: My number one daily ritual starts at breakfast. I have a huge smoothie full of whatever’s in my fridge or freezer, and add in hemp seeds and oil, chia seeds, collagen powder, and some nuts or other proteins. I make them before bed so the only thing in between me and my breakfast is the fridge door. Over the last few months, though, a fun new ritual of mine is misting myself with our ACTIVATE essential oil mist before I leave the house in the morning. It’s super invigorating and makes me feel happy. Honorable mention rituals include bath time (where I might watch a movie or read) and loosing track of time while sitting beside a lit candle.

WTD: We are so impressed with the products you have chosen to be your “core” collection. What are your personal favorite items and where do you hope to expand?

Taylor: My personal favorite has to be ROSA facial mist. I already have a collection of rosewater face mists from a few other brands and I’ve definitely incorporated them into my own beauty rituals. Now I’m so excited to have my own, knowing nothing is added that could potentially harm my skin.

Jennifer: See above re: ACTIVATE. Something about the smell of rosemary is so lovely to me. I’m also in love with ROSA. This was a product that Tay felt she wanted to create (I’d never used rosewater in my routine before) and now I’m so obsessed with it that I use it a few times a day. We both have running lists of products we might like to add and ingredients we’d like to work with. I won’t spoil any surprises now, but I think we’ll be looking to diversify our core items and expand into some new spaces.

cardea auset

WTD: If someone is brand new to wellness rituals or practices, what’s the one (or two) item(s) from your site they should start with?

Taylor: My first recommendation to any newcomer is NOIRE charcoal mask. Since the mask is a powder you have the option to achieve your desired results simply by mixing with different additions. You can mix NOIRE with anything in your beauty cabinet (or kitchen cabinet) like Honey or a Beauty Oil and then take a minute to relax. It’s easy and fun.

Jennifer: I think that SEA would be a great starting point for anyone looking to take up some fun new wellness practices. We’re all so rushed in our daily lives that cleansing our bodies becomes an in-and-out thing, something to get over with, whereas taking 30 minutes to have a bath can feel so luxurious and mentally rewarding.

WTD: From the blog (we can’t peek at the products on the website just yet) it looks like you produce some of the products yourself and source some from other vendors. What are some of the items you make in-house and why?

Taylor: The blog portion of the website is simply a place where we can interact with our clients. As much as we love other brands and have incorporated many into our own rituals, Cardea AuSet will only be selling products that have been formulated by us.

Jennifer: Our beauty wellness products are created and formulated in-house, and we work with a chemist to have them mixed up and bottled in a proper facility. Our candles are hand-poured in-house, and our crystal kits are dreamed up, created, assembled, and packaged in-house. We also cut, brand, and tie our palo-santo bundles ourselves.

WTD: What are your goals for the future of Cardea AuSet?

Taylor: I think I speak for the both of us when I say we are constantly thinking about the future and product development! We had so much fun planning and hosting the Media Preview, our 2018 goal is a series of Pop-Up Shops!

WTD: What is exciting you right now about the wellness scene in Toronto?

Jen: Since we’re based between Niagara and Toronto, we aren’t necessarily emerged in either “wellness scene.” One thing we do feel excited about is that self-care is so trendy right now. We think it’s super important to take time to care for our minds and bodies. Whether people have five or 50 minutes, we believe there’s enough time to indulge in some self-serving ritual.


Find Cardea AuSet here and on Instagram and Twitter