I know what you are thinking right now, “What the heck is a Dainty Rhino?” Is it an endangered species? Meh, not really. Some wild creature who eats mass amounts of greens and is as buff as Schwarzenegger? Well, that’s a little bit of a stretch, but I’ll take it! Alright, alright, let the drum roll slow and allow myself to introduce…myself (insert Austin Powers accent, please). My name is Rachel and I am Pantry’s leading expert in packing tape security management, cardboard cutting specialist, and product packing connoisseur. Why Amazon has not tried to poach me from Pantry Products for my wide variety of skills– I have no idea. So, now the question is, what does a box packing dainty rhino have to do with skincare products?…

Photo by Rachel Koester on May 27, 2018.

 

Outside of my gun slinging box cutter skills, I am a full time personal trainer at a small local gym here in Reno. Along with being in the gym hours on end each day, I am an avid mountain biker and former collegiate soccer player. Basically I’ve spent my entire life sweaty, dirty, smelly, bruised, and have always struggled to find skincare products that didn’t make my skin breakout, give me rash, or make me wonder why I couldn’t pronounce the ingredients on the label. This gym rat + weekend dirt shredder is tough on the inside, but wow, is she dainty on the outside.

Let’s face it– literally. Sensitive skin sucks. Bad products suck even more. A few years ago I had such a bad reaction to a particular lotion, my legs and stomach were covered in a rash so terrible that the dermatologist thought it was staph infection. This Dainty Rhino was so done being…well, dainty. This fueled my mad search for clean products with natural ingredients that weren’t going to annihilate my skin and force me to wear pants and long sleeves in the gym or on the trail. Cue the cloud parting music, throw in some singing angels, rays of sunshine, and that is how my body and face felt the first time I used Pantry Products. So, let’s take a peek into what a Dainty Rhino skin regime looks like…

RISE & GRIND: The only graceful part of my morning routine is when I’m actually using Pantry Products. The alarm goes off anywhere between 5:30-6:00 am, in which I slowly manipulate and twist my body in order not to crush our tiny 10lb dog who likes to sleep between my legs. I would love to say my feet hit the ground running after that, but it’s actually more of a dainty tip toe over our 70 lb Golden Retriever who likes to sleep in the middle of the floor. Did you even know a Dainty Rhino could move like a ninja? I finally stumble to the sink and I rinse my face with warm water (I don’t ever actually “wash” my face in the morning- is that good or bad? I have no idea!) Besides coffee, the best part of my morning is using my absolute favorite product, the Aloe + Rosewater Toner. I put a few dabs on a cotton round and gently sweep over my entire face. Right after the toner, I use the Moisturizing Facial Mist, which gives an awesome refreshing spritz and helps me wake up and get ready to face…three hungry dogs. After dog mom duties are completed, caffeine has been ingested, breakfast consumed, I always do several generous swipes of the Rise + Shine essential oil rollerball before I run out the door. Phew, does anyone else need more coffee?

SWEAT, BABY, SWEAT: I absolutely love being a personal trainer, but if you’re not conscious of your body, well…things get funkay. Whether I’m sweating during my own workout or getting amped up while teaching group class, I am constantly varying between sweating and not sweating. This is why the Lavender + Ylang Ylang Deodorant is my BFF in the gym. Not only does it keep me so fresh and so clean clean, but I don’t have to worry that toxic chemicals are seeping into my lady pits. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I am fortunate that my schedule allows me to workout in the afternoon, but the downside to this is freshening-up after my workout to get ready for the second half of my day. The other absolute must in my gym bag is the Apple Cider Vinegar + Rosewater Toner. I always keep a few cotton rounds in my travel makeup bag and do a quick sweep of the toner over my face. Not only does it do an awesome job of getting the sweat off my face, it is also a very pleasant smell under your mask!

A must have for the gym bag!

 I FEEL NAKED WITHOUT: If I’m at the gym, grocery shopping, on the trail, or gracefully trying to walk three dogs, there is a 99.99% chance that I ALWAYS have the Orange + Vanilla lip balm in my pocket. Most lip balm products actually end up drying out your lips even more, therefore forcing you to use even MORE lip balm! Ugh, lame. I don’t know about you guys, but now that we are living in the times of wearing these awesome pieces of fabric covering our faces all day, my lips started to become as dry as our Nevada desert. It is quite awesome (and more safe), to not have to pull your face mask down every few minutes to apply lip balm. This smooth-like-butter feeling will leave your smackers moisturized for hours on end.

Bruce knows the good stuff!

NIGHT-NIGHT DAINTY RHINO: I wish I could say that my evenings are comprised of Netflix & chill, but in all reality my partner and I live the glamorous night life of doggie dinnertime, nighttime poop walks, and administering senior dog medications. With that being said, if a quick shower can be squeezed into the evening, I always get a little taste of pampering from the Honey + Lemon Exfoliating Face Scrub. This product is a great way to literally scrub the day away and give your face a little TLC that it deserves. On the flip side, if a shower doesn’t happen amongst the doggie madness, I always have a bottle of the Makeup Remover in my medicine cabinet armory. I love the makeup remover because not only does it actually work, but it doesn’t burn your eyeballs out of your head to get the job done.

Before the last of the dog kisses for the night (who am I kidding, there’s probably 5 more minutes of dog kissing and a Pug massage), I like to do a little swoop of the Pack Your Bags Neroli Eye Serum. Now that I am officially smack in the mid-30’s (ah!), there ain’t no shame in a little help with those puffy eyes that say, “This is what I look like if I go to bed after 10pm.” One last spritz of the moisturizing facial mist, thirty-seven more dog kisses, eye mask on my head, pillows perfectly propped and squished, a smooch for the partner, and this Dainty Rhino is down for the count.

Natural Dry Shampoo

Unlike fairy tales and Hollywood movies, the best dreams do not come to life merely by chance. They are realized when one is open to the opportunities the universe affords them and when someone is not only able to identify a problem but to provide a feasible solution. When someone dares to say out loud that something is missing from the world + that they want to be the brave soul who takes on the challenge of filling the void. This exact situation occurred when Pantry Products’ founder, Michelle identified the need for truly natural, truly chemical-free products consumers could turn to in a misleading and toxin-filled personal care market.

In 2015, upon realizing what was hidden in the mass-produced personal care products on her shelves and how simply these same products could be crafted naturally, Michelle began whipping up health + wellness goodies for her friends + family with items she sourced from her kitchen pantry (in case you wondered where the name “Pantry” can from).

She applied her lifetime of crafting, her nearly two decades in corporate marketing, and her tireless work ethic to bring Pantry from her teeny Reno kitchen to her first storefront in less than 6 months. Since then, Pantry Products has grown to over 90 products, 3 brick + mortar locations, and 100s of wholesale stockists across the U.S. But, not without A LOT of hard work, late nights, and support from her personal network, and her dedicated Pantry team members.

Pantry’s first store. located in The Basement,  was known as The Pantry Vault because it was located inside an old, you guessed it, vault. This teeny space was less than 200 square feet and housed a handful of products on shelves custom-built using copper pipes reclaimed from The Basement. With just one shop employee helping Michelle (when she wasn’t working her full-time Marketing job), this little space was home for retail operations but also product production. Everything from lip balms to hand soaps and face masks to bath bombs was created in this space, by these two. The Vault was where many of our customers first met us, drawn in by the smells emanating from this concrete cave. People tentatively walked in, discovered what we were doing, and selected products to try out. These same people still visit us today and have been crucial in the growth Pantry has experienced.  It was in this space that our photographer, Abbey Kay, first discovered our hand soap + coffee body polish + was instantly hooked.

Within a matter of months, we out grew our beloved (but limited) Vault. When a shop space in The Basement offering better visibility, running water, a closet, and 2 windows (this is huge in a basement) opened up around the corner from The Vault, we didn’t hesitate to snag it up. It was larger than The Vault which allowed us to increase our production capabilities, grow our product line, and increase our staff. It also meant more room for new + existing customers to peruse our handmade wares.

Since we were able to offer more products in this space, we kept dreaming,  growing, and coming up with new ways to push the limits of what we thought Pantry Products could be and achieve. We also enjoyed inventing new ways to decorate our favorite feature: the window light well. It’s seen everything from hay stacks and pumpkins to a fully decorate Christmas tree and 7′ inflated flamingo floatie resting on hundreds of beach balls.  It’s still one of our highlights of this space.

In 2018, we moved into our second Reno location on Wells Avenue. This space was nearly four times the size of our store inside The Basement + it was key in helping to again expand the production side of Pantry Products.  This new space allows to house more back stock to meet the demand from our retail and wholesale customers, provides a private space to host our workshops, + a roomy place to create more products.

 

Our next adventure will be opening up shop in Detroit, Michigan where boss lady Michelle was raised. We are so excited to head back to her roots + to share the Pantry Products we love with the city that she loves. Who says you can’t go home again?

(exterior mock-up of Pantry Detroit)

We’ve enjoyed being a part of your lives over the years + we can’t wait to add even more joy to your home through clean products. Stay tuned to see what’s next!

– The Pantry Team

This is a question our team receives nearly every day from visitors to our stores.  With so many lovely items to choose from, it’s difficult to select just one but, we recently posed this question to our team members. Below is what they’ve selected as the handcrafted Pantry products they simply can’t live without.

Alissa, Retail Manager

Pack Your Bags: Neroli Eye Serum is magical. It’s a wonderful remedy to morning puffy eyes, and with Neroli being a sedative and stress reducer, it makes for an ideal part of the night routine! Armpit Detox is my #2 because being that the main ingredients in most deodorant brands today are very toxic, the armpit detox is brilliant. It lessens the need for deodorant entirely + frees my mind of worry.”

 


Taylor, Project Manager

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Aloe + Chamomile Cream is THE BEST stuff there is. It’s a perfect creamy consistency to that is just hydrating enough but not too greasy. I use it every night before bed paired with the Pack Your Bags roller and every few days I use the Vanilla Mint Lip Scrub. (Pro-tip: I also use the lip scrub to exfoliate my face and it works wonders).


Sunnah, Shop Assistant
Nourishing Night-Time Cream is my favorite product, not only to use, but also to make! I love its nutritious ingredients, especially the neroli, rosehip, and aloe vera. Not only does it help heal my skin but it does so at the best time, at night! Neroli has really helped me settle my nerves because it lowers cortisone in the brain which has made a huge difference with my PTSD and depression, so I wake up feeling well moisturized, topically nourished, and happy to start the day.”


Erik, Wholesale Manager

“My favorite product we make is the Shampoo Bar. I switched over to shampoo bar a year ago and noticed my hair is way softer than when I used liquid shampoo. And I don’t need to use a conditioner.”


Scott, Shop Assistant

“My favorite product is the Grapefruit Mint Shave Gel. The razor glides so smoothly on my face and neck after using it that I don’t get any irritation like I do with other shaving creams or gels. I love the fresh scent and the soothing aloe vera keeps your face feeling cool and refreshed afterwards.”


Hawa, Shop Assistant

Nourishing Night-Time Cream has been one of my favorite products so far. Neroli has been such an uplifting ingredient. The smell is calming before bed and the active response my skin receives from neroli’s benefits of cell reproduction influences me to use it in the morning as well. My go-to routine day n’ night.”


Abbey Kay, Photographer

“I love the dry shampoo because it works so well, doesn’t leave your hair feeling sticky like aerosol dry shampoo can, and it smells like chocolate! It’s the best dry shampoo I have tried and I use it every single day.”


Michael, General Manager

“I love this oil cleanser as the oil and friction of applying it really exfoliates my skin. Removing it with a hot face cloth really further cleans my skin, opening the pores and giving me a true clean.”


Michelle, Owner

“I literally crave our Nighttime Repair Serum. It’s lightweight, incredibly moisturizing, and it smells like heaven! The combination of jojoba, argan, and sweet almond oils help keep my skin hydrated without clogging my pores while our blend of carrotseed, rosehip, and essential oils work to balance, rejuvenate, and brighten my (oft-overworked, under-pampered) skin.    


Lou
Lou divides his time between “supervising” and exploring. To ensure he looks + feels his best no matter the activity, he reaches for Pantry’s Puppy Paw Protectant.


Winnie +  Chase 

Pantry’s fashionista pups choose the Dirty Dog Wash as their favorites, paws down!

 

 

 

 

 

What are your must-have favorite Pantry Products? We would love to know, so tell us below!

Have a great day!
– The Pantry Team

Happy May! This month we have so many things to be happy about. We are opening our first Pantry Products store on the East Coast in Brooklyn! This is a dream come true & just the start of Pantry taking over the country & eventually the world! Just kidding, but we really are excited! We are also loving this gorgeous Reno weather & can’t wait to spend sunny days on the Truckee River & at Lake Tahoe. May & springtime offer such a fresh perspective on the things going on around us. So we thought it’d be fun to share with you all today our teams perspective on our freshly made Pantry Products. Keep reading to check out the Pantry team’s favorite products & why we love em’!

Nicole, Operations Manager

So hard for me to narrow down as so many of the products have been effective on my skin. Prior to using Pantry’s clay masks, I was spending upwards of $70 on a charcoal mask from Sephora, that I maybe got 10 masks out of. I love Pantry’s Activated Charcoal Mask because, not only do you get around 30-40 masks out of a single jar, but it allows for so much creativity! I’ve mixed mine with Greek yogurt, honey, warm tea, etc. I also love that instead of doing a full face mask, I could do little spot treatments and make the consistency thicker or thinner depending on how badly my skin needs it. I’m a girl who loves quality and quantity which is exactly what these masks provide!

Caitlin, Community Ambassador

One of my favorites is the Garden of Love Body Polish. I have really dry skin, so the polish moisturizes while it exfoliates. Plus, you step out of the shower smelling like Spring!

Michelle, Owner

How do I select one product?? That’s like asking my Mom to pick her favorite child (Me! Sorry, boys!) Maybe I can narrow it down to a couple… Our Oil Cleanser changed my skincare world. I have always despised washing my face. The soap in the eyes, the splashing water, the rush after to apply lotion after, and the inevitable oiliness afterwards. The first time I used it, I was smitten. My pores were clear, my skin felt clean AND hydrated, and I wasn’t soaked from all the splashing. My second choice would be our Lavender + Ylang Ylang Deodorant. I sweat a bit. Whether I’m hot or cold, active or sedentary. Since controlling sweat wasn’t a concern for me, I’ve been seeking out the best deodorant for years…without luck. I am continually amazed by the deo we created. Not only do I smell and feel fresh throughout the day but I actually sweat less! And, added bonus, no ridiculously painful rash from baking soda irritation.

Taylor, Shop Assistant

I’m obsessed with everything in the store, but recently the Makeup Primer + Setting Mist has been consistently finding its way back into my routine. It’s cooling, smells soooo good, and gets the job done!

Caleb, Shop Assistant (not pictured)

My favorite Pantry product is the Gardener’s Hand Salve. I use it on my calluses from CrossFit, and it helps me go back 6 days a week without blisters or cuts on my hands! Plus you can’t beat the long lasting softness.

Abbey Kay, Photographer


I have loved using & trying out so many different Pantry Products since 2015. But my absolute favorites that I use every day are the Dry Shampoo in Raven, the Air & Linen Spray in Lavender & Lemon, & the All-Natural Hand Soap in Orange & Clove. I am super sensitive to certain scents & can often get headaches from them being too much, but all three of these scents are subtle enough to be used in my daily routine.

Elle, Operations Assistant


My favorite Pantry Product is the Noggin Healer: Headache Relief Roller Ball. I get headaches almost every other day, and I used to constantly be taking medication for it (which I hated having to do). However, this product oftentimes works better than the medication, actually soothing the headache quickly and completely, plus it’s all-natural!!

 Dena, Shop Assistant
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me, every Pantry product is my favorite. So I will narrow it down to my top 3 essentials. The Cedar Lemongrass Deodorant; keeping it real and fresh all at the same time. I love the Nighttime Repair Serum; Rich in aroma and nourishment. Full of multiple essential oils for the health and vibrancy of the skin. I use it day or night and sometimes on the ends of my hair. And the Bare Bones Laundry Detergent. Clean and simple. Laundry has never felt so good and my hand washables feel extra pure.

What’s your favorite Pantry Product? We would love to know, so tell us below! And be sure to follow the behind the scenes of the opening of our Brooklyn store here & here!

Have a great day!
– The Pantry Team

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself & what made you decide to start Pantry Products.

My name is Michelle M. Czarka but I answer to Meesh. In 2015, I founded Pantry Products: a handmade line of 100% all-natural skin + body care products in response to a consumer marketplace hawking chemical-packed products and over-priced natural skincare.  I was born in Michigan, raised in the Metro-Detroit area, and relocated to Lake Tahoe 12 years ago. (And yes, if you ask where in Michigan, I will pull up my right hand to indicate home). I am passionate about truth in marketing, supporting local business and my community, celebrating my inner child, singing all the songs, and eating all the noodles.  

 

Where did the name come from?

When I first started creating natural gifts for my friends and family, I was sourcing ingredients from the shelves of my kitchen pantry. Items such as coconut oil, sugar, avocado oil, cocoa powder, etc. When I decided to turn my hobby into a business, I sought a name that was as clean as the products and conveyed the simpleness of the ingredients. Pantry Products was born.

How many of the products do you currently use in your home or day to day life, & what are your top three favorites?

This is a tough question! While Pantry crafts and sells skin + body care products, we are really more of a lifestyle company. Our products are developed to support and contribute to a healthy lifestyle. We strive to be a natural replacement for the harmful products lining most store shelves. For me, all of my personal care products are Pantry. I use all of our bath products including Coconut + Chai body wash, Coffee + Choco body polish, Grapefruit + Mint shave gel, Rosemary + Mint hair wash + rinse, the sea salt soaks for sore muscle and soul pampering. I use our Coconut + Chai Hand + Body lotion, Lavender + Neroli after shower spray, dry shampoo. My skincare is all Pantry (and this could easily be my favorite part of the brand). Product testing our oil cleanser changed my entire outlook on skincare. No splashing of water, no mad rush to slather lotion on my dried out skin only to feel greasy, no need to control oily skin throughout the day. Three times a week, I oil cleanse. In the morning after my shower,  I use our Pack Your Bags eye roller, Aloe + Rosewater Toner, and Rejuvenating Facial Mist. I brush my chompers with our Tooth Powder, put on Bergamot + Lemongrass deodorant, apply Force Field roller ball as fragrance. At night, I treat my skin to more Pack Your Bags before applying our Nighttime Repair Serum, I spritz my pillow with Eucalyptus + Spearmint Air + Linen Spray and apply our Nail + Cuticle Oil before slipping into slumber. I could go on and on…lip balms, room sprays, candles, pet products, laundry products…I use them all!

Oil Cleanser

 

 

 

 

My favorites (at the moment) are Combination Oil Cleanser, Tooth Powder, Rejuvenating Facial Mist.

Tell us what it’s like to be a female owner of a business? What’s the most fun part & the most challenging?
I absolutely love being a business owner. I love developing ideas, I love introducing people to healthy alternatives to the cancer-causing products found in today’s marketplace. I love sharing information and engaging in conversation with my customers.

Being a female business owner has challenges aside from the day-to-day tasks of operating a business and ensuring my passion and message are communicated clearly through all channels. There is a lot of talk of female empowerment these days but I also feel there is a lot of competitiveness between females and female business owners. I work hard to support the women around me and to share opportunities for promotion any chance I have. There’s enough opportunity out there for all of us so I believe in sharing the success and actively working to lift up my fellow hard working ladies (and men).

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I’m not certain small business owners have typical work days. Some mornings starts around 7:30 a.m. with computer + coffee time on my couch where my pup, Lou curls up around me while I address emails, review my daily/weekly calendar, manage inventory, develop new products + labels, and tackle various aspects of biz ops. Some days, I’m up early for a run or road bike ride followed by local errands: picking up packaging and labels, shopping for ingredients, dropping off orders to our area stockists. Other days, I head right into the shop to work on production, test recipes for new products and our monthly workshops, custom blend requests from our customers, brainstorm with my neighbors in The Basement on collaborations. This variation of schedule is one of my favorite aspects of being a business owner.  

You’re clearly all about living a natural healthy lifestyle. Do you have any tips on how to start doing that for a beginner?
The transition starts with one simple step. When you run out of a product, instead of replacing it with the same, seek out a natural alternative. Purchase a chemical-free body wash, trade out your hand lotion, toss out that terrible deodorant and allow your body to detox naturally. All Pantry products are priced affordably so folks can afford to purchase healthy without emptying the piggy bank.

Here are a few simple questions:

Dogs or cats?
All the animals! I love both dogs and cats and share my home with a Bichon-Poodle named Lou and a tiger striped kitty named Emma. I value Lou’s playfulness and companionship while, with Emma, I appreciate her independence and ability to oftentimes desire nothing from me than a warm place to curl up and a couple forehead butts.

Coffee or tea?
Strong coffee with a splash of cream in the morning, spicy ginger tea at night.

Morning or night?
I’m at extremes with the times of day. I love the wee hours of the morning before the world wakes and the late hours of the night after the world has gone to sleep. Like most people these days, I’m often distracted by my iPhone: text messages, social media, emails. The “off” hours allow me to focus on work, writing, designing, and planning without interruption.

What else are you passionate about?
In today’s current political state, I’m passionate about social and political activism and about speaking up and out about inequality. While I am but one woman running a very small business, I believe small actions can have highly complex and large impacts.

How has starting Pantry Products changed you & your life?
It has changed so much of my life. For nearly 20 years, I worked in corporate marketing in various industries including automotive, mortgage banking, commercial construction, and healthcare. I loved my career but I always desired to create something for myself, a place where I could pave my own path and bring my ideas to life. The skills I honed during my Marketeer years have aided in bringing Pantry to life as a brand and the experience I gained working side-by-side with the C-Suite of highly successful start-ups has guided my practices as a business owner. I’m passionate about what I do and every bit of me is poured into every aspect of Pantry.

What does the future have in store for Pantry Products?
The question I ask myself nearly every day! My immediate goals are:

  • Become 100% organic in 2018
  • Expand our partnerships with amazing stockists across the US
  • Continue to serve as an educator in both my local and online community
  • Land Pantry on Oprah’s Favorite Things list. 😀
Pantry Products