Hi Leyna! We have been friends through the interweb for awhile now, and its an honor to get to interview you today.
It has been a wonderful virtual friendship and someday hope to plant gather with you in person! It is truly amazing how you can be draw to people's vibes and energy without having ever met them face to face. I am the one honored. Thank you.
What is your sun, moon and rising sign?
Sun in Pisces, Scorpio rising , moon in Aquarius
How did you get started making herbal products? Is this something that came instinctively to you or did something happen that awakened this idea?
My first herbal concoctions were Christmas gifts in the form of a healing balm. At the time, I was working at Trader Joe's and we would always be suffering from some sort of paper cut, nick and scrape. Pretty minor but when they are constant and multiple, they are aggravating. I researched herbs that were particularly splendid at mending and regenerating cells, and through this research became even more enamored and ravenous to learn more. I wouldn't necessarily say that the knowledge of herbs and plants came instinctively, but I have had a penchant for them since I was a child from playing in cattails, making forts in blackberry briers, and climbing oak trees. This plant tendency truly awakened about 7 years ago when I became increasingly aware of potentially harmful chemicals and fillers in most body care and make up products and the need for there to be more options for clean organic skin (and fun!) and body care.
What is your favorite herb to work with? What are its properties that are appealing to you?
There are so many favorites! I am a big fan of both plantain leaf. Plantain is one of those plants that Rosemary Gladstar calls vitality herbs. Some people consider them weeds and a nuisance to their manicured lawns because they can't be killed, their lust for life is so strong hardship only makes them more robust. A lesson on life I try to remember daily. Plantain is also a powerful healer, virtually unparalleled in drawing out infection inflammation of minor cuts, while also speeding along the healing process. Oh! Also, pearly everlasting. Funny story with this one. Last summer I was walking with my mom and her dogs up on my parents land and we took note of this wonderfully sweet, maple syrupy aroma that was coming from the dogs. HUH? I went hunting for the maple syrup source and found pearly everlasting everywhere, picked some dried stocks and put them in a vase. Natural pancake air-freshener.
Do you live in a community that supports herbal wisdom? Living in Northern California I am sure offers a lot more opportunities for an herbal community than down here in Southern Cali. Its been nice meeting people online but having a hands on personal experience must be really nice!
Santa Cruz and the region around is bursting with herbal practitioners and admirers. It is truly refreshing and inspiring to live in an area that takes great pride in the wild earth just beyond (and sometimes in) the pavement. I am constantly meeting students from the university studying native plants and beg them to take me with them on plant ID hikes. Also I have met so many Instagram friends that reside in the area and have gone on plant expositions with them too! Virtual meeting real life. HUZZAH!
Are there any other healing modalities you take part in besides herbalism? How do you incorporate these into your work?
Is it weird to call traveling a healing modality? I find that escaping or setting aside my obligations of the daily grind to go on random care-free adventures (an aquarian trait to be sure), to be wonderfully uplifting and healing. Exploring cities and land alike fills my heart and soul with simple joy and inspiration, so upon returning to work with herbs, I am invigorated and excitement renewed.
Do you have a favorite product you make? Salves? Body Oils?
I always giggle a little at this question because I feel in some way that every one of my products are little love labors, children almost. And what kind of mother would I be if I had favorites?! HA! The products I use the most are the Sun Worshiper Repair Serum (especially in the summer), Repair Salve (especially in the winter), Cheeks Lips Blush/Stain, and Rose Clay Bar (because it is soooo easy and I don't waste time mixing and cleaning if I just want a quick mask).
What are some of the local herbs that grow in your area? Are these your favorite to work with or do you feel connected them over others in some way?
I really enjoy horsetail or shave-grass. It grows profusely up here on the northern central coastal forest and whenever I see its bushy, bottle-brush stalks I want to run my hands over it and say hello. Horsetail is incredibly high in silica, making a wonderful ally for healing broken skin, fostering strong bones, and for its strong astringent and toning effects on the urinary tract. I use it in infusions for both hair health, skin serums, and tea. Another is bay laurel, the leaf that you usually associate with making soup. The trees are prolific and add a wonderfully pungent and healing herbal infused oil. I also just love the way the trees grow. When a branch breaks off, shoots sprout off of the downed limb, making about five times more little trees and a veritable bay grove.
How do you feel you distinguish yourself in this rapidly growing natural beauty world? I feel like this is something I think about a lot now that a lot of other brands are popping up everywhere. How do you keep your vision clear?
This is something that I am constantly asking myself. How am I any different from all the THOUSANDS of organic body care businesses out there? Rather than pull my hair out in nervous frustration that I and my business could be lost in the miasma, I see each business's product line as a wonderful and unique expression of each individual maker. Yes, we may use similar ingredients but the end result is very RARELY the same. But aside from that I am always looking for that certain edge or angle and eagerly strive to make each customer so incredibly satisfied that they are as stoked about my product and business as I am. I think that by not being over-whelmed by the quantity of other similar body care businesses helps greatly in keeping my vision clear. It's wonderful to connect with other makers (like YOU AND I!) and trouble-shoot issues we have, working together, helping each other! We can all succeed!
I had the pleasure of using a bunch of your products, and I fell in love with your bath soak and your vanilla honeysuckle body oil! Where do you get the inspiration for your products? Is it spending time in nature? Or do you get ideas when you are half asleep like I do (insert crying laughing emoji here).
Thank you! Inspiration pops up everywhere! I am fortunate enough to live in a gorgeous and lush area of the California coast AND forest that is positively brimming with ideas and inspiration. Sometimes I have an idea that I want to create, let's say a body oil. I start with that as a base, brainstorm several carrier oils that I know to be nourishing and healing that are fairly quick to absorb. Then I think of strange (but not too strange) and different combinations that may sound intriguing and just kind of right down lists of anything that pops into my head, let is stew for a day or two then make testers and see which one speaks to me. I actually have to restrain myself from making too many new products!
Do you have anything special in the works you can tell us about? Any upcoming projects or events?
Nothing special in the works besides maybe a few sample size packs of all the various oils. Other than a few pop-ups and markets in spring and summer, I am focusing on making my business more efficient, learning more about even HOW to run a good business and finding more local plant/herbal medicine classes and herb walks to keep expanding my knowledge and arsenal of plant friends.