July 25, 2022

By Kira Kyles, photos by Andrew Craft
The Fayetteville Observer
July 25, 2022

Have you ever wondered if you could make soap? A local artist did before she decided to open her herbal apothecary in Haymount. 

Curate Essentials opened July 5 on Fort Bragg Road, bringing herbal apothecary and vintage and homemade goods to the Haymount community. 

"I'm a maker, I'm an artist and I enjoy making all sorts of things," said Leslie Pearson, owner of Curate Essentials. "It really kind of all started with 'I wonder if I can make soap?' That was the question I asked myself, and then I just started making soaps as a hobby just to see if I could master it."

Pearson, 46, said she really started getting into plants and herbs when the COVID-19 pandemic started, which led to her studying herbal medicine.

As an herbal apothecary, the business sells various herbal remedies, salves, balms, essential oils and elderberry syrup. Additionally, in the front of the store is a small cafe area where people can purchase brewed tea, coffee or pastries. 

Pearson also sells other products she makes such as accessories, including art, necklaces and earrings, as well as journals. 

"Originally, I thought this shop would be more like an art gallery or studio, but then when COVID hit and I got into plants and everything, that's when the business itself pivoted," she said. 

The walls of the Fort Bragg Road shop are adorned with Pearson's art, as well as sales displays of necklaces and earrings. Pearson's artistic touches can also be seen in the employee bathroom, which has a floor made up of Scrabble tiles that took her months to create.

Curate Essentials isn't Pearson's first business. She and her husband own Vizcaya Villa, a wedding venue. The couple also formerly owned the Fayetteville Pie Company in Westwood Shopping Center before selling it in December. 

Pearson said owning the pie company helped her connect with members of the community, and she said she wanted to continue to grow those connections. 

"I wanted a space where I could meet with people from the community. That was one of the nice things about having a pie shop, I would come to work and all my customers became my friends," she said. "I wanted to have that element here."

Pearson said the community has welcomed the business with open arms.


"The people who live in this Haymount area are some of the friendliest people I have ever met," she said. "They have been so welcoming to us. They come in, some people come in daily, and they're eager to learn about things, about the herbs. A lot of them already have an interest in gardening or plants."

Pearson brought her former pastry chef, Mara Hampton, from the Fayetteville Pie Company to consult on the cafe, and Hampton ended up staying to bring baked goods to Curate Essentials.

Hampton, 31, an Arkansas native, bakes all of the desserts at the shop herself.

"I have a huge family of seven siblings, so my mom never had time to make dessert growing up," Hampton said. "I had a huge sweet tooth as a kid, so I was like, I'm gonna learn how to do it myself."' 

 According to Hampton, her chocolate chip cookies, which took her 10 years to perfect, are a best seller.

Hampton also brews the coffee at the shop, Onyx Coffee to be specific, which is another thing Pearson said brings people into the shop. 

Pearson said her business is becoming a meeting point for people with interests similar to hers. 

Curate Essentials, at 1302 Fort Bragg Road, is open from 8 a.m.to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information visit curateessentials.com.

Staff writer Akira Kyles can be reached at akyles@gannett.com.

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