PILSEN — The little pink sign with a frog holding a wine bottle outside a shop near 18th and Halsted streets might cause some to do a double-take.
The quirky frog sign marks Leaders and Co. Apothecary, a handmade soap and essential oil shop that had its grand opening last month. The sign was made by Pilsen husband-and-wife artist team Heart and Bone Signs (Kelsey and Andrew McClellan) from an image taken from an old German cologne catalog.
The shop at 708 W. 18th St. is the latest venture from Tanya Tucci, who also owns Ugly Step Sister, an art gallery she moved from the West Loop to Pilsen two years ago.
Tucci is also a licensed physical therapist who does massages in the shop adjacent to Ugly Step Sister. The 39-year-old, who uses essential oils for healing in her massage work, said creating the soaps was a natural next step for her.
The soap bars — which run $5 for a 1-inch slice — include cinnamon honey, goat milk poppy seed, lemon basil, tea tree oil and chamomile, which Tucci said is especially nice for relieving dry skin in the winter.
In addition to soap, Leaders also sells homemade lip balms — made of either yellow or white beeswax — in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, vanilla and basil, also for $5 a pop.
Drawing from resources in the neighborhood is especially important for Tucci, who consistently shows Pilsen artists in her gallery. The McClellans just curated an exhibition of Chicago sign painters at Ugly Step Sister, a show that runs through the end of January.
“I want Pilsen to keep flourishing. If you invest in your own neighborhood, that’s how you make it turn around, but everyone has to help each other,” Tucci said.