Though Brodar worked in web development, publishing, and advertising in New York, once in Portland she started spending 10-20 hours per week making potions such as shampoos, fragrances, and shaving soap out of their townhouse’s tiny kitchen and selling them on Etsy. Self-taught, Brodar, who holds a BFA, says, “I like to think of perfumery/formulary as creating art with my nose."
“Originally, I... noticed that there were no men’s shops for luxury, all-natural skincare products,” she says. “I wanted to give men what women had -- all-natural, organic products in beautiful packaging that smelled amazing, as well as products that worked better than the drug store brands. I also found that I had a knack for creating more masculine scents.”
The business grew, and in 2010, the couple moved Portland General Store to an old fruit warehouse on York Street, which gave them their own manufacturing and retail space. Tyler, who has a background in economics and startups, runs their design, sales, and business strategy. While most of PGS’ products are now made in larger quantities at a lab, Brodar still mixes the colognes, beard oils, and candles herself, and “whenever we develop a new product, I make the first batches in-house,” she says.
Like their humble townhouse beginnings, Portland General Store is positioning itself to be the go-to place for locals and tourists alike who are seeking products that reflect the “simplified life that Maine has to offer,” as Brodar explains it -- and not worrying about comparing themselves to other shops.
“What I do is like art,” she says. “And like a chef or an artist, everyone has their own unique style. People come to us and feel like they’re getting something special, something created by hand, that reminds them of a time past, and they get to purchase a product that has an heirloom quality to it.”