Owned by the Argiero family, whose namesake restaurant is next door, the building has housed businesses selling everything from used cars to computer supplies. Most recently, it was a medical marijuana clinic. But long ago, it was a stable for the Wurster Dairy's dray horses--Jessica Elkins points to the second story window that opened onto the old hayloft.
Elkins seems a little pre-industrial herself. Wearing a silky gray fitted smock with intricate pleats over a skirt and striped stockings, and presiding over an array of oils and mineral compounds, she looks like someone you'd find on the back streets of nineteenth-century Montmartre. "It's a uniform. You get these from uniform shops," she insists of her tunic. Maybe so, but it has panache.
"Are you going to make me sound like a product junkie?" Elkins asks. "I never washed my face in high school." Now, though, she follows a multi-step cleansing and makeup ritual, finishing with "eyelid primer and three eye shadows." Probably a little intense for most people, it seems to be working for her: at thirty-seven, she could pass for early twenties.
After training as an esthetician, Elkins worked for a time in Livonia, but "I always had my interest in essential oils and botanicals and how they affect the skin." Six years ago, she started a tiny business in the backroom of A2Yoga called Ananeo ("loosely 'renewal' in Greek"). As she began mixing more and more of her own products, she dropped "Ananeo," branded herself, and began looking for a bigger space.