Have you visited our mask bar? Second to the product line, it’s our pride and joy! The mask bar began with two chairs and a desire to provide guests with the ultimate self-care experience. Over the last five years, it’s flourished into a weekend event seating thirty at a time! Whether you’re a mask bar regular or brand new to the space, permit us to guide you through the origins of the woman-owned company, the birth of the mask bar, and what to expect during our signature self-care experience.
We started Scratch Goods back in 2011, in a Chicago apartment. We’re Elizabeth and Maureen, friends from high school who met up in Chicago after college. We worked in some boring corporate jobs back then, and in our off time started a community garden, drank a lot of cheap wine, and tried a bunch of crafts - making soap was one of them! The soap was a hit with our friends and family, and inspired us to clean out the excess personal care products in our homes. Losing all the plastic and unnecessary stuff was freeing, and replacing it with simple multi-taskers was a fun challenge.
Our skin was thriving in the absence of all those drugstore products, so we focused on more simple, food-grade plant-based skincare. Drawing on Maureen’s chemistry background and our love of locally sourced ingredients, we made small batches of face oils, body scrubs, and soaks - all from scratch in Elizabeth’s kitchen. We focused on plant-based edible ingredients from our community garden and local farms, and put it all together in an Etsy shop.
Production for this little side business slowly grew to take over the spare rooms in each of our apartments, prompting our move to our first brick and mortar shop in 2015 - a TINY storefront with a bonus basement for production - on Damen Ave just south of Addison. We were both still working our full-time jobs, luckily on different shifts that allowed us to cover store hours. We expanded our product line and hired some estheticians to offer services using our goods - simple facials using our clay masks and face oils. But customers still had questions about HOW to mix up their dry mask powders, and these facials always turned into mini coaching sessions.
One day, Elizabeth came in with a wild idea to cancel all of our facial openings and try out a new concept that had come to her while in the shower. She turned the two salon chairs to face the wall and hung a mirror in front of each. ‘We need to teach them how to make this mask themselves,’ she declared. We wouldn’t just do another facial - we’d lead them through their own routine. We added another chair to make three stations - (the most we could fit in that tiny space), and hung shelves for the products and tools they’d need within reach. We worked with our esthetician to create a script for this new ‘class,’ working in real facial techniques as well as product information direct from the source.
The mask bar became a unique self-care experience that could be shared with a friend over a glass of wine, instead of facials in quiet, separate rooms. Conversation and questions flowed between guests and instructor, and people seemed hungry for tips on how to optimize this once-private ritual. Requests for larger groups were coming regularly, so when our lease was up at the Damen store, we moved to a bigger space in Fulton Market - a six-chair mask bar with room for groups.
After Fulton, we moved a couple more times as we built out our current home on Randolph, full with a 10-seat mask bar. First into 851 W Randolph (now Warby Parker) and 843 W Randolph (now the second-floor level of Bandit). This new 10-person configuration moved the stations off of the wall and onto two communal tables of 5 each, all facing the front in a classroom style. A larger space in the back was used for private parties and wellness workshops, and our grand opening at 847 W Randolph was in October 2019.
After Covid hit and this unmasked activity was no longer safe, we closed it for over a year. Introducing a virtual version that would be shipped around the country to bring people together through instructor-led Zoom groups. Once the vaccines were fully distributed and we felt safe enough to mask in person, we redesigned the entire space so that parties could book their own table of 2, 4 or 6 in a cafe-style setup. Now small groups can face each other for a slightly more intimate version, being led and visited by a floating instructor. This new layout is held in our larger event space and can fit 30 people, at individual tables still distanced from each other by 6 feet.
Over five years, the mask bar has evolved into what it is today - a self-service, interactive skincare experience. It takes about an hour, and we think it’s best enjoyed with a beverage. As the instructor guides you through our simple masking routine, you’ll start with a full oil cleanse - complete with a steam towel delivered hot to your table. You’ll learn about our three dry clay masks and choose a fresh liquid mixer to bring it to life in a handmade bowl, in a mix that’s custom just for you. You’ll treat your lips with a hydrating butter, apply the mask with a brush (that’s yours to keep), and let it dry for 10 minutes while catching up with the friend (or two) that you came with. After another steam towel for removal, you’ll moisturize with a hydrating spray, eye butter and face oil, then learn how to use a warm jade roller for a relaxing massage. The experience is equal parts relaxing, social, educational, and fun! And your skin will always leave fresh and glowing.
We’re so proud of this experience we’ve created, and know it’s here to stay. We’re currently open for booking on weekends, or can arrange for a private class anytime - hope to see you soon!