Fostering the Wild

Boreal Folk crafts natural skincare products from locally sourced wild botanicals, gathered and processed using a 99-square-foot mobile workshop. They’ll be bringing their carefully curated lineup of goods to Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

Text—Casey Beal
Photos—Boreal Folk

In partnership with

When you walk in the forest and brush up against a wild plant, you may unwittingly become part of a finely tuned system: your movements through the wild woods help to spread the seeds that keep the forest thriving. It is this kind of simple reciprocal relationship with nature that inspired Raphaëlle and Mark, founders of the natural skincare company Boreal Folk, to create “sustainable, ethical, and bioregional products that are inspired by the boreal forest.”

In 2015 Raphaëlle Gagnon and Mark Coelho converted a trailer into a “mobile, solar-powered formulation studio” and launched Boreal Folk. They’ve been on the road, towing their “wilderness lab” behind a 1967 bus, ever since. They craft their sustainable, ethical products from locally sourced ingredients: clay, salt, beeswax, resins, carrier oils, essential oils, herbs, and hydrosols, all from the environment around them.

Experienced tree planters — the pair estimates that they have planted 2.7 million trees — Boreal Folk’s founders are comfortable setting up bush camps and living wild.

“We spend months living on the land, bathing in glacial streams, frolicking in wildflowers, and communing with the plant world. We gather plants from healthy colonies, while others are salvaged from the disturbance of the logging industry.”

– Raphaëlle Gagnon

“We love spreading seeds as well as planting seedlings of trees, shrubs, and flowers back into our harvesting locations. We tend to the wild as though it is our garden,” she continues.

This proximity to nature is reflected in their traditional methods for gathering and processing the wild herbal materials that compose their products. They carefully consider each botanical’s unique gifts and decide how to work with it to craft a connection: an invitation back to our home in nature.


Boreal Folk will be at One of a Kind, a winter show in Toronto, which supports and brings together a community of like-minded creative makers from all over Canada, many from Montréal. Ahead of the show, BESIDE asked their co-founder what brings them inspiration and how they like to connect with the natural world. This was Gagnon’s thoughtful reply:

“We gather inspiration in the rituals of slowing down and connecting to forgotten crafts. Living our life in nature with the rhythms of the seasons fulfills us deeply and provides us with a sense of belonging.”

– Raphaëlle Gagnon

To stay connected to the natural world, Gagnon often takes long walks in the forest, noticing the plants and animals and trying to put a name to each thing that she sees and hears. There are many ways to get rooted in the wilderness, she says: bathing in lakes, rivers, or streams; napping in the moss; spreading seeds of the plants she brushes up against. “I ask myself, How can I be of service to this ecosystem.”



Boreal Folk at the 2022 One of a Kind Winter Show

Meet Boreal Folk in person at the upcoming Winter Show at Exhibition Place, Enercare Centre, in Toronto from November 24 to December 4, along with 600+ Canadian makers!

For more information, click here.

Use the promo code BESIDEXOOAK at checkout to get a discount on a Single Day Adult Admission ticket to the Show or simply use the following link.


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