Dr. J Apothecary was born in deeeeeep west Texas, where the landscape does not inspire luxury. But Jana's products bring a sort of practical-luxury into the nature-loving city-dwellers life ~ spritzes, scrubs, and salves that smell incredible and heal tired skin. The no-nonsense packaging makes it look good on your shelf, but also in your rucksack/backpack/handkerchief-tied-to-a-stick to bring along *into the wild*.
Name: Jana La Brasca
Business: dr j apothecary
Product: all purpose aromatic spritz for space, face, and body; salt scrubs; beet lip and cheek stain; high desert SPF hand salve; et c
Location: Started in Marfa, lives on in Austin
Astrological sign: capricorn/sag cusp
What you had for breakfast: About to go to brunch at Wat Mongkolratanaram Thai Buddhist Temple in Berkeley! Such a solid East Bay spot.
Take us through a little bit of your process from concept to creation
It’s a little tricky to describe, since I mostly work on my own and it involves a whole lot of vibes and intuition. I make things I want to use, or people often make suggestions to me for things they’d like to see, or I work off of products that I see out in the world, but kind of reverse engineer and improve them. But for the most part, it starts with a feeling, especially feelings that have to do with travel—it tends to be about things you want to have when you come up against the elements out in the world, but adds a possibility of luxury and comfort. Essential oils can be so relaxing, or so energizing, which is what I love about them—plant magic is real!
The spritzes were designed to freshen up the car on long drives, but they work great at home or the office or anywhere else you might want them. Or…last winter I drove from Austin to LA, and on the way my hands got SO dry. I had learned about the natural SPF that occurs in some natural oils and thought—wouldn’t it be great if I made a salve that deeply moisturized while also offering some sun protection. So really, I made it for myself, but it healed my hands right away. The making is fun, but the word play and package design is almost more fun for me—see dr j “fresher than you” beard oil and Beyoncé’s 7/11.
Are you someone who learns more from your mistakes or your successes?
Definitely mistakes—isn’t that really the only way to learn?
If your poolside spray was a person and was going to see a matinee movie, what would it go see?
Deep Sea 3D—that IMAX movie about the coral reef. I think Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp narrate it. Pure visual pleasure.
Is Dr.J 100% you, like the you that walks around and does all the other things you do, or is Dr. J someone you channel when you're covered in essential oils and making things?
I think I tend to inhabit a few different personas—in one sense, “dr. j” is aspirational, since I’m hoping to really be a PhD in Art History one day, but it’s also very much this outlet that runs counter to that in the sense of its concrete-in-the-world-you-can-spill-things-ness. While I deeply respect the powers of aromatherapy and natural ingredients, I also feel like the “dr. j” brand has a kind of humor and irreverence to it that is really a part of my personality. I really like the combination of minimal packaging, the deeply sensual scents and applications of the products themselves, and the playful language. I guess you could say…dr. j is a version of me, but she’s always on hand to sniff out an opportunity to add some good smelling extra special deep conditioning vibes to your daily routine.
all photos (except portrait) via Jana La Brasca, portrait photo via Ian Lewis / Far West Texas Surf Report