A: I originally started creating my herbal bath products about ten years ago. I had subscribed to an aromatherapy-of-the-month club kit to make with my daughters. Each kit included raw ingredients and recipes, and it was so much fun that I began creating my own formulas and researching the properties of various ingredients. My life was very stressful at the time, and I found this work very centering – working with the herbs and essential oils was very relaxing. People responded well to my products, and I started selling them online as well as at my local farmers market. Then, my life got even more hectic, and I let my company go, returning to just making my products for myself, friends and family. Then, in early in 2008, I started formal herbalism studies, and it inspired me to re-start my herbal bath and body product business.
Q: Is this your full time job? If not how do you balance a full time job with your Etsy shop?
A: Half of my time is spent on Herban Lifestyle, and the other half of the time I work as a consultant facilitating the scientific review of cancer prevention programs. While the two areas are very different in some respects, they both focus on wellness and educating people about ways to live a healthier lifestyle. Plus, the more I learn about cancer prevention, the more strongly I believe in the importance of companies like mine that promote healthy alternatives to chemical-laden personal care products.
A: Suggestions from customers and friends, products that I want, but can’t find. And, for a while, when I was on a naturopath-directed diet that eliminated wheat, sugar and dairy, my inspiration for new products was forbidden desserts! Some products that arose from my cravings are Mint Chocolate Chip Lip Balm, Lemon Meringue Whipped Body Scrub, Tangerine Dreamsicle Bath Salts, and Strawberry Honey Milk Facial Masque. Most recently, I was inspired to create a men’s line of products because my husband and other men had been complaining that all of my products were too “girly” and that there was nothing for them! In addition, I have learned that prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer in this country (across ages and genders), and several ingredients commonly found in personal care products are thought to contribute to hormone disruption. I thought I owed it to the men to give them some healthy, great smelling personal care product options.
Q: You call your company eco-friendly. What are you doing to make your business green?
A: I try to run all aspects of my business in a sustainable way, and I do several things to be eco-friendly like offsetting 100% of my company’s carbon footprint through the purchase of RECs. All of my products are packaged in recyclable containers, and the labels are printed on 100% recycled paper (minimum 50%) with vegetable-based inks. I never use artificial fragrances, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, synthetics, or petroleum-based ingredients. My company is a certified member of Green America and is also certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny. I purchase only 100% recycled copy/printer paper, paper towels and toilet paper. I recycle all of my paper, ink cartridges and packing peanuts, and reuse copy/printer paper and packing materials. In addition, I make sure to use reusable bags when shopping, I mulch, I recycle everything that I can, I buy locally whenever possible, I use compostable trash bags, and I use compact fluorescents wherever I can in my house. I know there’s always more I can do – I’m constantly discovering new ways to be greener.
A: First, make sure that you are having fun. So, in terms of taking on projects, causes, choosing whom to work with, make sure that it doesn’t drain your energy – if it is, something is out of balance. By keeping things fun, I maintain my energy and enthusiasm, and it nourishes my creativity. Secondly, keep your customers’ best interest in mind. The reputation of your company relies on the quality of your products, and in how you interact with your customers, so that should be a very high priority. I continually assess where I am and where I’m going, and make sure that I am sticking to these criteria, which I set for myself.