Q: Your open heart elixir is very alluring! Can you tell us about the properties of the elixir and how you recommend using it?
A: Sure! So basically, when we talk about "keeping our heart open," we are talking about staying positive, receptive, and in love with everything around us. The Open Heart Elixir is an herbal syrup comprised of herbs traditionally used for grief and healing the heart, combined with rose quartz and hematite. Rose quartz is an excellent stone for the heart, for self love, for acceptance, for loving others. Hematite provides a grounding and nurturing element, like a mother's hug. You can either take this syrup as you need it i.e. going through heartbreak, needing to let go, or you can take about a teaspoon daily. You can also use it culinarily, for creating Open Heart cocktails, or Open Heart yogurt even.
Q: What does holistic wellness mean to you and what are some of your self-care rituals that you practice?
A: I feel like holistic wellness means being mindful with your decision-making in every facet of your life. What you eat, what you put on your skin, what you put on your body, what you put in your mind. It's a way of living, understanding that all these parts make up the whole. That being said, my self-care rituals are all of these different things. I keep a list of things that mean a lot to me & make my life better, so that I can try to incorporate them into my daily practice of life. Things like incense, smudging, music, yoga, healthy foods, vibing with stones. I try not to over-work, which is a big deal for most young entrepreneurs. I try to set a lot of boundaries, and create plenty of time for rest and being with my loved ones.
Q: What were you doing before you started Wooden Spoon? What inspired you to create it?
A: Before Wooden Spoon Herbs, I went to college for journalism and worked a series of jobs in small local restaurants, which focused on well-crafted, local, nutrient-dense foods. I also worked at a health food store, where I was introduced to the world of herbs. It was working at a local farm-to-table (hi Farmer's Daughter Cafe!) that I was really inspired and pushed to create my business. One day I made a cup of black tea, and had some potted bee balm blooming on my front porch. I plopped a bloom into my tea and forgot about it. When I went to drink my tea, I realized it tasted exactly like Earl Grey! This was actually what inspired me to start this business. I saw that I could grow herbs and use them to create new and diverse flavor profiles, while sneaking powerful medicines into unsuspecting, or uninterested, demographics. So, this combined with the opportunity to create teas for The Farmer's Daughter cafe began my business journey.
Q: Have you always been interested in herbalism and wellness? Where did you get all of your knowledge?
A: I have always been interested in plants and animals, conservation, exploring, resourcefulness, and not being humancentric. In terms of my herbal practice, I am self-taught. Well, I am book-taught. This year I begin a three-year study with Phyllis Light, who is an amazing Southern herbalist. I feel like this is going to change everything.
Q: Can you recommend some books on herbalism for people interested in learning more?
A: Absolutely! Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians by Patricia Howell. Healing Wise by Susun Weed. The Gift of Healing Herbs by Robin Rose Bennett. Anything by Rosemary Gladstar.
Q: Who are some people in the wellness world that inspire and excite you?
A: Oh gosh! So, so many. Vicky Salicido-Cobb of Grandmother's Medicine. Sister Spinster. Portland Apothecary. Mother Mountain Herbals. Harvest Roots Farm and Ferments. Roseroot Herbes. Summer Bock. Free and Native blog. The Great Kosmic Kitchen. Phyllis Light. Kiva Rose. I am leaving out so many. I could go on all day. Anyone I meet who loves herbs and keeps them nearby are huge inspirations to me!
Q: There has been a shift recently in mainstream medicine and health to more holistic healing practices and belief in natural remedies. What do you think is influencing this shift?
A: I think what we need to realize is that the shift away from all of this has been so short. I think the effects of industrialization and pharmaceuticals are convincing people that unnatural things have ugly unintended consequences. I think there are also waves of influence that holistic healing has, and that we are seeing an upsurge because of that, honestly. These people and modalities of healing are always out there. Things like the Internet make it easier to connect and get the support and community we need. Where I live, there isn't a huge herbal community. But via the Internet, I know I have a place.
Q: What is your creation process like? Where do you get your inspiration?
A: Typically, since I make medicines from what is growing around me, I will start by taking note of what's ready to harvest around the same time, and see how those all work together. For example, elderberries and sumac ripen at the same time, and also happen to have complementary properties that are good for remedying colds and flus. So this directs my creative process. Other times, I come up with formulas and then wait until those plants are ready to be harvested. Then, I do some R&D and lastly come up with a beautiful label. This year I have hired a graphic designer, which I am super stoked about because while I love creating plant medicines, that is my art. I am not a visual artist. But I want my products to be beautiful and top-notch inside and out.I am inspired by all kinds of things. Seasons, colors, breezes, places. I am hugely inspired by older herbal recipes and herbalist elders. My herbal peers inspire me a lot too!
Q:What plans do you have for the future of wooden spoon?
A: My plans are to keep deepening my connection with my plant friends. This year I am really trying to dial in my offerings, teach a lot of workshops, deepen my knowledge by learning with Phyllis, and expand into more retail outlets. Eventually I want Wooden Spoon Herbs to be self-supporting so that I can have more time to see clients one-on-one.
Check out more of Lauren's gorgeous products at www.woodenspoonherbs.com
Photos by Beth Kirby of localmilkblog.com