Growing up on a farm sounds ideal until it’s your up-at-dawn reality. Just ask Mark Veeder, who was born in Maine and moved to rural Greene County, N.Y. as a young boy. “It was into the woods, on top of a mountain,” he says. “We cleared 20-acres of fields, my dad built our house, we cut wood for heat in winter, and were a very chore-driven family.” Farm life, Veeder will straight-up admit, was hard. “Back then, I didn’t like it,” and in particular, he says, “I hated the weeding.”
So, go figure that Veeder is now at the helm of Farmacy, an up-and-coming beauty brand that’s rooted in a love for gardening. He explains that while he could have done without chopping wood, he got really into landscaping, which he considered the “pretty portion” of the requisite labor that goes along with maintaining a farm. “I’m not a great drawer but I found that I could ‘paint’ with plants and that was a magical experience,” he says.
Veeder’s green thumb persisted, even after moving to New York City in the late 80s, where he pursued a marketing and public relations career. On the weekends, he would drive 90 miles up to Sullivan County, N.Y., where he has seven acres of lush gardens. It was while tending to his Echinacea in 1999 that Veeder stumbled upon the discovery of a lifetime—a never-seen-before green variant of the traditional Echinacea Purpurea. A self-described “plant geek,” Veeder says he had a hunch this flowering gem could be quite unique and eventually sent a sample to a biotechnology laboratory for testing. The results came back—and promptly blew his mind. Veeder’s freshly-plucked plant contained 300 percent more cichoric acid, a natural antioxidant, than any other form of Echinacea in the world.
“The first thing I did was patent it,” says Veeder, who named his botanical superstar GreenEnvy in 2008. For the next five years, he mostly peddled it to nurseries until his husband, Cooper Boone, nudged him to dream a little bigger. “He said, ‘You have to do something with this plant!” In 2014, as part of his New Year’s resolution, Veeder says he “put that intention out there and ordered 10,000 plugs.” With the proverbial seed planted, Veeder decided to launch a beauty company—cichoric acid, he learned, could help prevent the breakdown of collagen and ward off hyperpigmentation (beauty gold!). After teaming up with Robert Beyfuss, a retired agricultural expert with Cornell University, the duo secured five acres of farmland in Cairo, N.Y. and got planting.
Farmacy came out of the gate in the fall of 2015, with everything from exfoliating cleansers to serums to face masks, all backed by the restorative power of GreenEnvy. Veeder’s intent, however, was not to launch yet another homespun beauty line in an already saturated market. Instead, he wanted to combine active naturals with high-tech extraction processes (like cold-pressing) and lab-derived molecules for high-performance, non-toxic results. “We are farmer cultivated and science activated,” he says. “That’s what sets apart from natural brands.” Items like Sleep Tight, for example, pair the brand’s hero ingredient with man-made esters to help it transform from a salve into an oil, and a retinol-like, vegetable-derived ingredient to fight wrinkles.
So far, the brand is flourishing. Less than two years since its debut, Farmacy has added two additional farms, in Cairo and Damascus, P.A., to keep up with demand. Last summer, Veeder introduced a new ingredient into the range: honey. “Throughout history, it’s been beauty-care for the gods,” he says. And unlike mass-produced honey—which can be teeming with pesticides—the Farmacy honey comes only from bees that live on the brand’s carefully nurtured lands and pollinate the Echinacea GreenEnvy flowers. Among the offerings is a Honey Potion, an antioxidant-rich mask, and Honey Savior, a multipurpose balm. The newest creation is Honey Drop, a lightweight moisturizer that manages to be both airy and intensely hydrating at the same time, and features unique Cupuaçu butter beads that burst on contact (and leave skin super soft).
Somehow Veeder still runs VP+C, a public relations, marketing, and event design firm in N.Y.C. “Monday to Wednesday I’m in the city and on Thursday I’m upstate before bed,” he says. The bedtime he’s referring to is that of his toddler twin daughters, Crosby and CeliaRose, who Veeder and his husband are raising to be nature lovers in Sullivan County. Weekends revolve around creating “our own little magic, hiking, swimming,” he says.
The couple is active in the local farming community and in nearby Port Jervis, Boone heads up Foundry42, a home furnishings boutique that houses a coffee shop and event/workshop space. It also happens to be the only retailer, apart from Sephora and QVC, where Farmacy’s products are sold. The twin’s bathroom is well stocked. “They’re obsessed with Honey Savior because it’s an all-in-one healing salve, it works on scrapes, bruises and diaper rash,” says Veeder. “Every time they fall they say, ‘Honey, honey!’” Pots of Lip Bloom are another household favorite. “They call it lipstick,” he says, adding that the tinted lip balm came in handy as a reward for potty training (parents: “that’s another use for it!” says Veeder).
Any downtime is spent in the gardens, where Veeder still has his original bed of Echinacea, and the girls are happy to get their hands in the dirt. And good thing since Veeder plans to keep growing the brand and will need a few more farm hands. “I want to raise my next generation of amazing gardeners,” he says. Who’s ready for some weeding?
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