Nature, art, soap and sustainability... Introducing: ANTO YUKON. We recently had the chance to interview Kym Rempel, the founder of Anto Yukon, a fieldworker in wilderness management and an avid hiker living near Whitehorse, YT. Using locally and sustainably foraged ingredients from the Yukon, Kym's soaps are reminiscent of the great Canadian landscapes for which they are named after. Each soap is wrapped in a small contemporary artwork by Meghan Hildebrand, a Canadian artist and former Yukon resident whose paintings are inspired by Northern landscapes. Anto Yukon’s soaps are truly unique and bring a breath of Canada’s wilderness into everyday life.
What are some of the local wild ingredients that you forage or harvest to include in your products? Do you have a favourite ingredient to gather or go searching for?
We currently collect rose petals, rosehips (the fruit of the rose bush), arnica, fireweed, and glacial silt. In the past we have also worked with yarrow, labrador tea, wild chamomile, sage, and juniper berries. There is no one ingredient I like collecting more than another. I definitely have some favourite places to go picking, and depending on the weather, some days are just more magical than others.
Tell us about your experience as a fieldworker in wilderness management, and how, perhaps, has it influenced your business?
My education is in renewable resource management and GIS mapping. I worked for several years for Kluane First Nation in their lands department. It was an incredible job and really makes you look at the different values of land and our natural resources - how to manage resources sustainably, ethically, and culturally. When I started Anto, I knew I wanted the company to be completely natural. I knew I wanted environmental sustainability, reusable or recyclable packaging, and a work environment that was based on teamwork. I love using wild harvested ingredients, but only when they can be collected sustainably and responsibly. Naming the soaps after placenames is a nerdy nod to my mapping background as well.
We’ve heard that you’re an avid hiker. Where are some of your favourite places to hike?
Here in Yukon there are so few people and so much wilderness. There are beautiful places everywhere you look. Lately, I've been spending a lot of time closer to home. I live about 30 minutes from Whitehorse in a beautiful mountain valley. This summer I have been hiking close to home, and loving every minute of it. During non-covid times, I really love hiking in Utah and Arizona. I am a huge desert junkie.
Each soap is wrapped in a small contemporary artwork print by Meghan Hildebrand. When did you first come across Meghan’s work and how did you come up with this wonderful idea for artful packaging?
I first came across Meghan's work at an art show at a local cafe. Meghan is originally from the Yukon and it's a pretty small place, so it's easy to come across local makers and artists. However, she has moved to BC and has multiple galleries representing her work and art shows around the world, so I feel very honoured that she decided to work with me. Her work is contemporary and inspired by landscape so I think it's a perfect match for our soaps.
Whether it's right at home or a special adventure that you've taken, what is (one of) your favourite place/s in Canada and why?
I have two favourite Canadian spots. One is the Tombstone mountain range here in Yukon. Especially in the fall. I fell in instant love. My other favourite spot is the backroads near Gang Ranch in BC's cariboo region. The landscape is so so incredible, and its worth a drive, even if you don't have time to explore by foot or horseback.
All photos courtesy of @antoyukon