Meet Worker B

Worker B Poster

Worker B is one of those companies that really is awesome – and I mean awesome.  It is hard to put into words how great they are.  What makes them great?  They are producing an incredible line of skin care products, hand crafted, without any fillers.  Let me give you a glimpse into Worker B and the people behind it and why their stuff is so wonderful.

I had the pleasure to speak with Michael S. a while back, one-third of the Worker B team.  Here is a bit of our conversation…

So, who is Worker B?

Well, there are three of us:  Liesa, her brother, and me.  Liesa comes from a culinary background; Liesa’s brother, Michael H., is an engineer; and my background is in women’s ready to wear, so I am familiar with manufacturing and marketing.  Our life and how we grew up definitely played an influential role in what we are doing today.  All three of us grew up with families who had big gardens and a love of being outside.  But, it all started with Liesa.  Liesa was a pastry chef for quite a while and wanted to work more outside – and took a job with a local beekeeper.  Needing additional help for the season, I started working with the same beekeeper.  With all of the hand-washing/cleaning involved with cooking and being a pastry chef, Liesa had developed water-based eczema and other forms of dermatitis.  After working with beeswax and pouring (lots of) beeswax candles, Liesa noticed a marked improvement in her skin’s condition.  We then started making a couple of skin care products primarily for ourselves and as holiday gifts.  From there, the honey producers at the Minnesota State Fair called, wanting to add our products to the collection of local honey. . .so we officially started Worker B!

We turned 3 years old as a company a couple of months ago.  We are based in Minneapolis, MN and do craft fairs, farmers markets, and sell directly to retailers throughout the United States.

At the market
Liesa and Michael S. at the market

What was the catalyst in starting Worker B?

Not being satisfied with what was on the market and wanting to make it better.  When you look at what is on the market and on the shelves, it is full of chemicals and just “stuff”.  We wanted to pare down the ingredients and go from there.

What is the creative & development process?  How do you come up with the products you have?

It takes a long time!  And it takes a lot of research.   From beginning to end, we do all the sourcing, development, manufacturing, and distributing.  We start by making what we want to use.  We ask ourselves what would make us happier with the existing products that are on the market.  We begin combining ingredients, using what we really want, to make the best product we can.  And then we use it ourselves (along with a group of dedicated guinea pigs that will try anything).  Liesa has very sensitive, or “dry”, skin.  I do not.  I have “oily”.  It is all trial and error. Figuring out what works and what does not.  The more we do it, the faster the process becomes.  We understand better the proportions between solid & liquid.

If you had to sum up what defines Worker B, what would you say?

We make hardworking products for hardworking people. All the ingredients being used are necessary and have a purpose.  The products are multifunctional and long-lasting.

I LOVE that your products have expiration dates.  It makes sense, like the food we eat, that which we put on our bodies should expire too.

Really the expiration dates have to be put on there since we do not use preservatives.  But it adds recognition that we are different. The production side has benefits & drawbacks.  We have limited quantities on hand, because everything is made fresh in small batches.

As a company, what is one of the biggest challenges you have faced or do face continually?

Skin care has not really changed.  So innovation and experimentation are vital.  It is not really about what you make; it is about how you make it.  We are trying to help people by using better ingredients and better formulation.  We were one of the first companies doing this when we started.  (It is good to be ahead of the curve.)  People are starting to pay attention to what is in skin care.  Like food, they are wanting a better alternative. The first thing people want to know is what is in the product.  It is nice to see consumers paying attention to what they are putting on their skin, not just in their mouth.  Men are starting to pay attention too – it is nice to see men picking up lotion.  But, across the board, the average consumer is not ready.  They are getting closer though.  Education for the consumer is so important and getting better.  It just takes time.

If you had to pick, what would you say your favorite product is?

  • Face wash for oily skin – great all year
  • Treatment stick
  • Cream – with working and living in MN, my hands are pretty chewed up all the time

Right now I am all about the face!

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Honey & the worker bee are obviously the essence of your products.  How or where did your love of honey start?

Honey was always just something sweet.  What changed it for me was doing a honey tasting.  I started to understand the differences between clover, dandelion, etc.  Like cheese and wine – there was a wide variety of honey.  I was like “Wow!  I really like honey.”

Do you have a favorite honey?

Hard to say – I like them all.  Right now I would say buckwheat and basswood.  Buckwheat is stout – chocolaty, malty.  It is good for cooking stir fries and to glaze carrots.  Or in winter, to drink with hot water.  Basswood is a little lighter – minty, grassy, woodsy.  I like to eat it on toast or yogurt with fresh berries.  Pretty much you pair honey to what you are cooking or how you are using it.  I would say that I am a bit of a collector of honey.  I will pick up honey and give it a try to see how it can be used.  I have been really excited to try New Zealand’s honey, since they have totally different flowers.

How much honey do you actually eat?

Probably a healthy couple of spoonfuls a day.

How do you eat it?

Just with a spoon while sitting on the couch.  I usually have one spoonful mid-morning or afternoon and sometimes at night.  (It is good for heartburn and indigestion.)  Liesa eats it with yogurt or crème fraiche.  She will also use a bunch in granola or baking.  We don’t eat tons, but more than most people.

Now, educate us about honey…

The bigger picture:  Honey is influenced by the flower, the region, and the bee.  Raw honey is a snap shot of where and when.  It is a taste of the region.

Local honey has lots of benefits, if not cooked out, from the natural flower pollen, bee pollen, and natural enzymes.  Medicinally, honey has been used since the olden days on wounds.  When honey hits the blood stream, it is said to react like hydrogen peroxide.  Beeswax is an anti-inflammatory and blood circulator.

In the end, it is always important to know where your honey is coming from and how it is being cultivated.

So what kind of honey do you all use in you line of Worker B products?

We work with central Minnesota beekeepers (we prefer to work locally so that we can work along side them and see how they produce their honey and establish personal relationships).  We make sure the beekeepers are using sustainable methods and have antibiotic and pesticide-free hives.  We like to support beekeepers – it is important!

We need about 300-400 hives for our production.  We also use honey from a Canadian group in Quebec.  They are fantastic.  Their process is right in line with what we are doing and believe in.

Worker B beekeeper

What can we expect next from you all at Worker B?

Candles just launched, as well as our own line of raw honey.  Cleanser for hair is coming next.  Just trying to expand the market to new areas.  Lots of ideas – just not enough time to develop them all.

New Honey Jars-A_MH

Who or what inspires you in this pursuit?

A friend in her 20’s recently moved to Africa and got into sustainable beekeeping.  It was always her dream.  I think that is pretty humbling and inspiring.  (Ethiopian honey is supposedly delicious.  I am excited to try it!)

You know – growing up – my dad always said “If you work hard, good things will happen.”  It is a phrase that has stuck with me and I am putting into practice.

What have you learned through this or how have you been impacted personally?

It is fun doing what we are doing – stressful – but fun.  It is neat to meet new people and travel to different places.  I never thought I would be doing this.  We did not set out to do this.

One thing I really appreciate is learning again – having to figure things out.  We have to make all the decisions.  Everything is starting from scratch.  It is personally rewarding but not everyone is cut out for it.  It is a good experience, being a little uncomfortable with new scenarios.  We have to make this happen.

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It is not about wishing for better, it is about doing better.   And that is exactly what they are doing.  Thanks Worker B!

I am a firm believer of knowing what you put into your body and trying to be as organic and natural as possible.  But it does not stop there.  We need to be as aware of what we are putting on our bodies.

My personal favorites:

*Photos by Worker B.  Used with permission.

Meet Lily from Lily Glass Photography

We see people passing by, people who live in our community, whom we grew up along side.  Our community binds us together, growing up sharing the same streets, enjoying the same sunsets and star filled skies.  Yet, how many of those people do you know?  Maybe it is with age that we are able to appreciate more the value of others and seek those relationships missed.  However, there are some people in life that draw you to them naturally; that make you want to know more.  Lily is one of those people.  She has a sweet and gentle disposition that draws you in softly.  Talking with her, you immediately sense her passion and love for living in community with family and friends, her gratitude for the life she has been given, and her desire for exploring the world before her.

I remember playing with her older sister when I was in 5th grade, going over to her house even, but I never took the time to know Lily.  Now, 18 years later, I have finally gotten a glimpse of the person Lily is, and am really impressed.

We had a whirlwind photo shoot, and barely had time to chat about life.   Although she is back in Ohio and I am in Tennessee, Lily was gracious enough to answer some questions about her life and work.  I was not able to sit and talk with her about life over coffee, but I will still enjoy a cup of tea while reading her response.  I hope you enjoy this glimpse of Lily Glass and her inspiring life.

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So first, tell me a bit about yourself, your life, and how you got to where you are today.

I was born and raised in the South; so, sweet tea, biscuits, country music and fried-anything will always be part of my life. Currently, I live in Columbus, Ohio, with my writerly husband and our 8 month baby girl who’s being very patient with us as we figure out what we’re doing! Ben and I married after undergrad in TN, then scooted up here for grad school (he got an MFA in Creative Writing). What I always thought would be a quick stop in the Midwest has turned into a really lovely time, surrounded by some of the dearest friends we’ve ever had, and it’s hard to imagine leaving. But we’re in a really sweet spot – living in that place of so much possibility and still dreaming big – the reality being that in two years, we could be anywhere in the world. I love that.

How would you describe yourself?

A clumsy, spontaneous dreamer who likes to think of herself as adventurous but really, that’s debatable.

What made you chose photography?

The power of an image – to take it’s viewer back to the location, time, and emotion captured in that photograph – it gripped me even as a young girl. Growing up, I took pictures of the things or people that I didn’t want to forget. Then, when I realized that I could do that creatively for other folks, I was hooked.

You studied ceramics right, so how did you get from there to here?

My parents are both entrepreneurs so I count myself incredibly blessed to have had the idea that you can and should enjoy your work ingrained in my mind. They were so supportive of my  studying fine arts in school and why would anyone say no to playing with dirt all day?! I love the same things about ceramics that I do about  photography: beautiful, well-crafted objects/images with an innately lovely, functional purpose. I still get to throw at a nearby studio but when it comes down to it, I’m a better photographer than potter.

Can you pinpoint the moment in time when you knew you wanted to capture life through a lens?

Not one specific moment but really the culmination of several as I realized what a lovely feeling it was for my images to bring other people so  much joy. Every artist desires for their work to be cherished and  valued; when a momma sees a photograph you captured of her little boy and she’s speechless because it’s so perfectly him, there’s no better affirmation for me.

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How do you get inspired? What sorts of things are inspiring you right now?

  • I’ve always thrived in collaborative settings and feel so blessed to be surrounded by several creatives here in Columbus, such as Ashley of Ginger+Birch — we are intentional about meeting regularly and I think just being around one another sharpens our creativity and ingenuity.
  • Light is the most inspiring thing for me — I’m always observing light and trying to decide how I would photograph it wherever I go.
  • Lovely tangible photographs; having something which you can hold and  touch and feel and pass around in this digital age seems magical. I’m  hoping to incorporate more and more film into my work over the next  year.

Who in life inspires you and encourages you in your pursuit?

My Benny is my biggest supporter. He’s the rock that keeps me grounded — it takes some real guts to be starting your first year of grad school, six months after you get married, and say “yes, honey, start your own  business when we don’t have any money.” And then real patience and sensitivity to listen to my every frustrating moment and every big ridiculous dream. He’s number one.

Do you have a favorite image you have taken?

I think it might be this one – I never want to forget how tiny and amazing and brand new she was.

Ruthie's Feet
Ruthie’s Feet

How do you tell a story or capture life through your images?

My grandpa was a master storyteller; I think the best stories are full of  details so it’s important to me to capture as many little things  in/around the location and within the individual in order to tell that  story in a unique and honest way. The most challenging part of being a  portrait photographer is documenting a true part of your subject — I  think you have to be patient, empathetic and know when to generate and  anticipate emotion. I never want to ask a couple to do something that  doesn’t reflect their personalities or their love; it’s imperative that  you become familiar with who they are in a very short time frame. And  there’s a fine line between giving direction so they don’t feel awkward  but not posing them. It’s absolutely necessary for your subject to feel  comfortable so, for instance, I prefer shooting families in their homes  and allowing them to go about their daily routine. This is where the  beauty of everyday life lies and these are the type of images that I  find in my grandmother’s old albums and will always cherish.

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What would you be doing if you were not a photographer?

I’d be a rock star.

What do you love to shoot?

Real life.

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How do you feel that your photography impacts others?  Or how do you desire it to?

When folks look at their images, I want them to feel exactly how they felt in the moment that photo was taken.

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Coffee or tea?  How do you take it?

Coffee, please. I’d like to say black and strong but really I always sneak some sugar in…

How do you make your life more beautiful?

I love handwritten, snail mail and try to send at least one letter a week.

Where is your favorite place you have traveled?

Cinque Terre, Italy

On your blog, you share about a trip to Florence.  What captured your  heart?  If you had to describe Florence in a sentence, how do you see  it?

Ben and I went to Italy for three weeks in 2011 and left big chunks of our  hearts there. Florence was one of our favorite spots — it’s walkable,  approachable yet so very other-worldly with all it’s history and art. We would move there in a minute.

Where do you go when you need a break, to relax and recharge?

Outside.

What is a perfect day filled with? How do you try to live that daily?

Coffee and time to enjoy it in the morning; cuddles and giggles with my little girl; brunch with my Honey; crossing things off my to-do list;  supper together as a family or with friends and then open time in the  evenings.

As much as I’d like to fly by the seat of my pants, it’s so important for  me to be intentional about every part of my day, especially now with a  baby. Having a schedule and sticking to it allows me to optimize my time – work and personal – and achieve a good balance (this is always easier said than done).

What gives you a surge of emotion?

Thinking of the future.

What do you dream of for your future?

Up until now in our marriage it’s been back-and-forth as far as who is  getting the opportunity to pursue what they love and I know that’s  necessary while we get on our feet and figure things out. I look forward to the day that we’re both able to do what we want at the same time.  There’s also an airstream in my future though the details are yet to be determined.

What is your favorite thing to eat?  Do you have a favorite meal or memory of a meal?

I just love meals. When I remember visiting my grandma in Florida, it  seems that we never left the table. Eating was always about sharing a delicious meal together and really no agenda but to enjoy one another.  Those meals always consisted of Brunswick stew, cornbread and a pound cake for dessert.

So the unexpected usually has a way of bringing the greatest joy.  Can you recall something of late that brought you inexplicable joy?

Our sweet little baby was unexpected and there were a few scary days in the beginning full of uncertainty; I can’t even begin to tell you how much more wonderful she is than I ever expected her to be.

If you could be anywhere right now, where would you want to be?  With whom?

I always feel better about the world when I’m at the beach. I think it’s  because it’s impossible to have a narrow mindset when you’re standing in front of the ocean; it has a way of resetting your perspective. I’d take my Benny and my baby (and since my freckles aren’t connecting into  one large tan like I thought they would when I was little, a big ol’ bottle of sunscreen).

Make sure to visit Lily’s site and her blog to learn more about her and see more of her wonderful images.  Also, if you are in the Columbus area and interested in learning how to better use your camera while enjoying a girl’s night out, she is offering workshops, also known as SnapShop.

*All images are the property of Lily Glass Photography.

Kim Vorperian from Bodhi Basics

There is no doubt that Nashville is famous.  Most people associate it with music, but for me it is the restaurants, coffee shops, and Indie stores that make an impression.  I am always torn whether to revisit the places I love or to explore and find new ones.  In the end, though, I realize that I am most excited after a trip filled with new discoveries.  A visit to Nashville last month resulted in one such discovery.  I was delighted to meet Kim Vorperian, the owner and maker of Bodhi Basics, a small handcrafted soap business for people and their pups.

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Upon first meeting Kim, I was immediately struck with her sweet demeanor and her obvious desire to create beautiful and wonderful soaps.  Her passion was evident, not just for soap, but for a life lived well.  At 25, Kim is definitely living an inspiring life committed to creating “handcrafted, organic, sustainable and luxurious soaps that are fun, gentle, eco-conscious and junk-free.”  Everything is made by her hands with love, care, and most of all passion.   The result…unique, beautiful, and truly exciting soap.  Really.

Kim was gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions…

So first, tell me a bit about yourself, your life, and how you got to where you are today.

Well, I am an artist, musician, and artisan soap maker.  I like to dance.  I wear size 7 ½ shoe. Giraffes are my favorite animals.

It’s been a winding road that led me to where I am today.  I guess it started with my dream of owning my own little community-centric bakery/café.  Somehow I finagled a job after college as the sole baker for a small specialty European deli in Wicker Park, a Chicago neighborhood – no idea how I pulled that off really.  I worked there for a bit, and to make a long story short, I ended up moving back to Florida where I discovered I had a pretty serious wheat allergy.   That put my baking career on hold.  So I changed courses, taught myself how to make soap, and here I am!

How would you describe yourself?

Remarkably charming, stunningly attractive, and humble as pie.   I’m just your average “Jane” really, trying to make ends meet with what skills I possess, learning new ones when the situation arises, and having fun adventures while doing so!

What does handcrafted mean to you?  Why is it important to you? 

The term “handcrafted” is a very important one for me.   I know when I pick up a product that is handcrafted there is a certain amount of pride, passion, and love that went into it.  Instead of bashing factory-produced goods, I focus my effort towards making an amazing product that gives my customers a feeling that they are cared about.  I think one-on-one connection is quickly losing its importance in society.  I like to think that supporting the handcrafted movement is a way of strengthening that loosening personal connection.

How does crafting soaps relate to your life?

It is a process with a learning curve.  The more genuine effort, hope, and passion you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

So what is the story behind the name Bodhi Basics?

Bodhi is the name of my notoriously entertaining rescue pup and best friend (as a “high-five” to all the shelter animals out there Bodhi Basics donates a percentage of its profits to our local animal shelter).  “Bodhi” is a Sanskrit term translated into English as enlightenment….I had high hopes for my little shelter pup.  The “Basics” part of our name applies to our process and materials.  We only use ingredients that are directly from the earth.  Organic herbs, flowers, essential oils and spices are what produce the color, scents, and textures of our soap.   My hands make them.  So “Bodhi Basics” is a company that draws attention to the true nature of getting back to the basics.  A little lofty for a soap company, yes, but why not?

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How do you come up with new soap combinations?  What is your creative process like?

My inspiration for new soap combinations usually comes from my daily experiences.  From the food I eat, to the smells I encounter, when I experience something good, I write it down.   The “Grapefruit & Sugar” bar and my “Spiced Pumpkin” bar are two examples of this.  I also focus on the medicinal and  healing properties of the essential oils I use.  Certain combinations can develop a potent bug repellant (like in the Backwoods Bar) or heal certain types of skin troubles, all smelling awesome at the same time!

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Who in life inspires you and encourages you in your pursuit? 

My friends and family are big factors, of course.  With that said, I recently worked as a studio assistant for an artist couple, Linda and John.  Linda makes gorgeously funky jewelry and John is a talented painter and also creates jewelry designs in his “down time”.   They have been incredibly inspirational and supportive of my life, art, and Bodhi Basics.  In addition to teaching me the ancient craft of metalsmithing, they demonstrated that it is possible to create a life for yourself that you love.  And that success can be achieved through passion, creativity, and hard work. They have been working together (as a couple) in the same small studio every day for years and years, which is inspiring to anyone who has ever been in a relationship, let alone one where you work together.  They have my respect for many reasons.  Plus they’re just dang cool.

What is the best advice you have received and how has it affected your business?

That the first few years will be difficult, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I think everyone who starts a business hears this, but it’s true and it’s important to keep in mind.

Apart from soap making, what does your life hold?

I like to do a lot of things: running, making music, drawing, dreaming, making food with my friends, going to the dog park with Bodhi.  I like to stay busy.  Up until recently, I was obsessed with the Game of Thrones book series.  Thankfully I have finished the books that are already written and can get back to L.B.G.O.T. or “Life Before Game of Thrones”.

What is essential in your day?

Dancing around like a goofball to my favorite tunes for 30 minutes a day.  Without that, I think I’d go crazy.  Sunlight and fresh air.  Some Bodhi tummy scratches.  A kale shake.  Laughing with a good friend or a complete stranger.  I’d say those are pretty essential.

What is your driving passion in life?

That one-on-one connection you experience with another sentient being.   Making that experience a pleasant and fulfilling one is what keeps me going.

How do you make your life more beautiful?

I’m pretty lucky that my line of work keeps my house smelling fabulous.  That’s a nice thing to wake up to every morning.  I like to do little things, like smile at people I walk by or pick up something someone dropped.  I think it’s a culmination of those little things that are going to make someone’s day a good one, whether they remember it or not.

So, a couple of random questions for you….If you could go anywhere, right now, where would it be?

Iceland, hands down.  The colors of the landscape there are just awe-inspiring.

What is the first thing you like to do in a new city?

Walk around.  I know it is a pretty simple answer, but I think there is no better way to get to know a city and experience its people, smells, and sights than just hitting the street one step at a time.

Where is the best restaurant you have ever been to?

Flo’s in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.  I still dream about their breakfast.  Ethiopian Diamond in Chicago is an extremely close second, like  1 ½ place really.

Do you have any other dreams or passions that you hope to achieve?

I’ll be applying to grad school in the near future to try to get my MFA in Studio Art.  That is a dream.  Can I say world peace?  That would be nice.

What about your hope for Bodhi Basics?

WORLD DOMINATION!  Just kidding.  I hope that Bodhi Basics can make a few people and a handful of pups a little more comfy in their skin.   I hope to keep meeting as many awesome people as possible.  I sincerely believe Bodhi Basics has one of the best customer bases in the world.  Everyone is so down to earth and friendly.

Last question, if you had to pick your favorite soap, which one would it be?

Dang, this is a hard one.  It’s like asking a mom to pick her favorite child.  One Dirty Pup is classic.  I’d have to say that’s a personal fav.

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Bodhi Basics’ motto is “If we will not eat it, it won’t be in our soap.”  It feels good to be able to trust the products we are using!  Personally, so much of what Kim is passionate about, totally resonates with me…including traveling to Iceland!  Meeting the artisan behind the crafted good is always special and something that I am truly thankful for.  My sincere hope is that you will get a glimpse of her person, her heart, and her passion as well as enjoy her beautifully crafted soaps….Virginia

You can buy a small selection of her soaps from Addiah.  Also, make sure to check out her website for additional scents and to learn more about Bodhi Basics!

Michelle Neubel from Michelle’s Herbal Products

I sat down to share a cup of tea and talk about life and business with Michelle Neubel of Michelle’s Herbal Products.  I am always amazed how quickly time passes when I meet with Michelle.  We start chatting and hours fly by.  There are some people in life that brighten your day through simply interacting with them.  Michelle is one of those people…she is one of the most encouraging people I know, full of joy, peace, and hope.  She encourages not merely through her words, but her genuine care for others and her desire to help them make their lives better.  Her life is a life full of seeking to serve and love others.  I am amazed at her own introspection.  She accurately assesses her own life, and then lives it well.  She is living a sacrificial and caring life, and living it with joy.  Her life truly is an authentically lived life!

Michelle was generous enough to allow me to ask her a few questions about her life and business in order to share with you.  Here is a bit of our chat…

First, tell me a bit about yourself.  How did you become interested in creating a line of herbal products?

I became interested in herbalism from a young age, learning about flowers, plants, and herbs and their uses.  I certainly did not anticipate this but it came out of necessity.  My interest stemmed from my own family’s needs for products to sooth and help health issues relating to allergies and sensitivities.

What does hand crafted mean to you?

Less is more…it is about taking God’s creation and those elements that can be found in nature and using them as they are meant to be used.  The less you do to it, the better off it is for meeting the need and the intended effect.  It was created for a specific reason and we should be using it as such.  When I am crafting my products, I don’t use synthetic or industrialized products, but use that which is organic, pure in form, or wildcrafted (a plant that is indigenous to where it is from and has not been harvested or trained to be grown but is found wild).

How does your craft relate to your life?

It is a culmination of everything in my life.  It balances my love of art, herbalism, aromatherapy, esthetics, and my background in Mathematics and Chemistry.  My line of herbal products is bringing together my knowledge of each of these things to help people.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I am inspired by various cultures in history…African, Native American, Western herbalism, Traditional Chinese, and Japanese medicine…old Hebraic and biblical culture, using aloes, ciders and other fermentations, frankincense and myrrh all for healing, West Africa’s shea butter, Morocco’s Argan oil, India’s hibiscus, honey from the USA, New Zealand’s manuka honey, Malawi’s baobab.  The list goes on and on…

(Literally, Michelle could have talked forever on all the different cultures around the world and the different healing and health elements that are found throughout history and their cultures, as well as the benefits and purposes of each of her own products.)

Who has influenced your craft?

Definitely my family.  Both my parents have always been very strong in culinary arts, but it is more than just that. The example my mother and father set for me in how they lived their lives really has influenced my own life.  Their dedication of the study of the Bible, helping others, and caring for us children when we were sick, all have been influential in how I now live.  I grew up hearing stories from my mother’s mother, and how she helped her family and others with herbal remedies to rid or alleviate both chronic childhood and adult ailments.  I have witnessed and been apart of what I would like to call an action ministry, where my mother would make her fabulous homemade soup and full course dinners for anyone who was sick, just moved to town, moving out of town, or just a family in need.  My father would deliver them, as well as pick up anyone who was in need of a ride.  There have been many, many occasions over the years when my mother and father have prayed and doctored over me and my siblings throughout the evening and into the next day to help alleviate our suffering.  These stories just do not stem from my parents, but what our extended family has done one to another; particularly the matriarchs of my mother’s family.  They may seem like cliché’s, but children really do grow up doing what their parents do, not what they say, and my family has lived evident to this saying.  My maternal grandfather, Levi, instilled in his family a saying that is kept alive today, “Never let one fall for the other.”   While all the cultures I mentioned have inspired me, ultimately the love that my family has shown me and others out shines everything!

What is your creative process like?  How do you come up with your products or the ingredients that you use?

Well, the hair tonic started with my sister’s need, who asked me to use my knowledge to create something for her.  It led me to begin researching and drawing from my background in chemistry and herbalism.  Here I am, years later, growing some of my own herbs, but mostly sourcing organic and native origin ingredients for my products.  My dream is to have a community herb garden to grow my own ingredients along with others.

Hearing customers say how my products have helped them drives me to create the best quality product I can.  I am always evaluating that which I am making and seeing if there is anything that will be more beneficial or work better.

Apart from your business, what does your life hold?

I love nature…water, athleticism (hiking for example), music including concerts and festivals, art, travel, and the community I am a part of.  I like encouraging people and helping them to achieve their aspirations.  I want to encourage those who have suffered in the physical realm to become a well individual and do what they love.  I want to do God’s will and follow that which He has inspired me to do.

What would you be doing if you were not creating your line of herbal products?

I have always wanted to start a wellness center and combine all the different areas of medicine….Also, it has always been my ambition to be an artist.

To learn more about the benefits of each of these products and how to buy them, visit Ask Aunt Michelle.  I did so enjoy talking with Michelle about life and her work.  Make sure to visit her website!…Virginia