It’s not every day that you get to sit down with someone who calls himself “The Deodorant King of Chicago.”
But if you’re out and about in Logan Square, you might find yourself sitting next to him at a bar or restaurant, and chances are, he’ll smell pretty good.
His real name is Nathan Morin, and he’s the founder and product creator behind North Coast Organics (@NorCoastOrganic): a line of organic, vegan, handmade products, a few of which feature iconic images of our beloved neighborhood.
Deodorant, spray lotion and lip balm by North Coast Organics are in fact available in two shops right here within the Logan Square boundaries: the Dill Pickle Food Co-op (@dillpickcoop, 3039 W. Fullerton Ave.) and Wolfbait & B-Girls (@WolfBaitBGirls, 3131 W Logan Blvd.).
Morin, himself a Logan Square resident, admits the nickname started out as a joke and later morphed into an online persona. (He came up with the name after remembering a scene in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” where Ferris assumes the identity of the “Sausage King of Chicago.”)
His products, however, are no joke. Fighting the common complaint that natural and vegan deodorants don’t work, Morin worked tirelessly to garner the positive feedback he’s gotten on both his deodorant brands, “Death by Lavender” and “Revolver,” as well as his two lip balms, “W.M.D” and “L.S.Q” and his spray lotion, which he left untitled.
“We’re the No. 1 selling deodorant in most places,” says Morin. “We’re selling hand over fist.”
Morin is quick to clarify, though, that his business was never a get-rich scheme.
“I didn’t start this to make money,” he says. “In fact, it started itself.”
An Idea Evolves
Indeed, Morin initially had no intention of creating a personal care products company. He simply wanted to find an organic, vegan deodorant that worked. When he moved to Chicago three and a half years ago, he decided that if he couldn’t find one, he’d have to make his own. So he did some research, concocted a recipe, and to his surprise, his mix of organic, vegan ingredients did the trick. He gave samples to his friends, who liked it as well, and before long he launched a product line.
Jennifer Lynne Le Vine, health and wellness Associate at the Dill Pickle Food Co-op, says North Coast Organics is a popular brand at her store, not only for its quality, but because of what the company stands for.
“The deodorant scents are amazing,” Le Vine says, adding that they work better than any she’s ever tried, either natural or conventional. “The perfect combination of essential oils is being used.”
Now Morin works not only to ensure his products contain only the highest quality organic and vegan ingredients, but also to use packaging, labeling and processes that fulfill his eco-friendly commitment to society. He uses tree-free, fair-trade labels from Distant Village (@distantvillage, 2754 N. Troy St.), 85% post-consumer waste plastic for his lip balm tubes, and all of his products’ containers are recyclable and reusable. In addition, he has found a way to reintroduce hydrosol (“flower water”), a byproduct of his processes, back into his products, a more sustainable option than simply letting it go to waste.
Although many retailers immediately took a liking to his products, there have been a few raised eyebrows at the edgy artwork adorning them—not the typical imagery found in the personal care aisle. But Morin doesn’t care.
“Who needs more flowers?” he says. “Who needs more nature scenes?”
Though the business is licensed by the city of Chicago, strict Illinois laws prompted Morin to move production of his products to Indiana, where he has family who can help run the business. He says that despite this, the Logan Square-centric designs he dreamed up for the packaging give the products a local feel no matter what market they’re in. Once he can get the legalities worked out, Morin plans to relocate production back to Illinois. In the meantime, his marketing and sales efforts will still be based in the neighborhood.
“This was always meant to be a Logan Square product,” he says, adding that he has no desire to run the business illegally, as some natural personal care companies do. “I have a great product and I want to do it all legit.”
Morin says the company has full product insurance and all his ingredients are on the FDA list. He also is working on securing USDA certification.
Plans for the Future
By this time next year, Morin hopes to secure a Chicago store for North Coast Organics, which he envisions as an interactive space where customers can be involved in the making of the products. He also plans to launch more product lines, including seasonal lip balms, facial toner, aftershave and baby products. By the end of the year, he’s aiming to have 12 to 15 items available.
As for living in and running a business from Logan Square, Morin is happy to have chosen this place, home of two of his favorite local features: the beautiful boulevards that have served as the model of elegant outdoor spaces for cities around the world, and the residents themselves.
“Every day I’m inspired by this neighborhood,” he says. “And it’s because of the people.”