Before launching natural-lipstick brand Bite Beauty in 2011, Susanne Langmuir spent much of her time experimenting in a makeshift lab in her Toronto home. “Many of my best products have been conceptualized in my kitchen,” she says. Two short years after Bite lipstick collections went on the market, they were selling out at Sephora stores in Canada, the U.S. and Australia and Langmuir had opened a flagship in Manhattan, where customers could custom-blend their own lipstick colours over a glass of bubbly. By 2014 Langmuir had struck a deal to sell a majority share of the business to LVMH-owned Kendo.
Langmuir left Bite in 2019 and was quickly on to her next venture: SL&Co., a makeup and skincare innovation lab, where she formulates for her own concepts and does private-label development for other brands that are looking to produce sustainable, organic products. Since opening, the lab has come out with two new brands: An-hydra, a waterless skincare line, and Lixr, a collection of mood-boosting aromatherapy lip balms.
Langmuir’s 167-square-metre facility in Toronto’s west end is a vision of all-white cabinets stocked with Ecocert ingredients, such as bentonite clay, amino acids and organic lavender, sourced from suppliers as far as Japan and as close as Langmuir’s 21-hectare organic farm in Meaford, Ont. She bought the property in 2014, fulfilling a dream of having a place where she could get her hands dirty. “I had travelled around the world working with growers, suppliers and producers, and I was fascinated by the idea of trying farming myself,” she says.
Now Langmuir grows her own lavender, calendula and sage, which she dries on racks in the drive shed and then transports to her Toronto lab. There, she infuses the herbs into organic jojoba oil and adds them to Lixr products. She’s also experimenting with other crops—sunflowers she hopes to press into oil and oats that can be incorporated into skincare products. “Everything on the farm has a purpose,” she says.
“I had travelled around the world working with growers, suppliers and producers, and I was fascinated by the idea of trying farming myself”
Langmuir fell in love with the farmhouse at first sight. It reminded her of the South of France. The stone building dates back to 1867, and it was renovated in 2012 by its previous owners, who added an extension. Langmuir now spends about half the year there, with her son Charlie and Coco, her 10-year-old German shepherd, focusing on farm work during peak seasons. “This year, the harvest was two weeks early in July because of intense heat and a shortage of rain—and then too much rain,” she says.
Two local farmers who help her manage the property have taught her organic farming methods like crop rotation, companion planting and weeding by hand. In the next year, she hopes to add chickens and goats to the mix. “Goats are great grazers, clearing weeds and fertilizing naturally,” says Langmuir. “Plus, they bring so much character to a farm.”