I first started making my own natural skin care products in The Netherlands, on a squatted farm community that sat on the outskirts of a small village. It was there where I first put my foot into the world of self-reliance.
A herbalist gave a workshop one day on how to make a basic salve to a group of us in the community. It amazed me at how something so basic of oil, herbs, and beeswax can make something medicinal, and it seemed as though the more I researched it, the more there was to know about the medicinal properties of plants. I felt a surge of passion for this ancient knowledge that felt so natural- in all realms.
My partner (at the time) and I then moved from the Dutch community off-the-grid to The Spanish Pyrenees, where there were no doctors or pharmacies around at all. For minor complaints the members of the mountain community would come to me for their cuts, scrapes, aches, pains and hygiene products- so I shifted from making mostly soap and the occasional salve, to stockpiling all sorts of salves to have on hand. After four months on the side of a mountain with no running water and barely electricity or communication, I moved back to Toronto, where I was born.
It was an adjustment being back Toronto, but the biggest problem was; I stunk. I hadn't worn deodorant in over a year, but since I was back in a city where people are in close quarters, without the stench of a goat's stable to cover up any human complaints, I had to invest in my own personal hygiene past a bar of soap and some tooth powder.
While sitting in a cubicle at the temp job I fell into my first week back, I started day dreaming about owning a hippy van and selling soaps and salves at festivals and farmers' markets around Canada. Far removed at the time from that reality it still floated in my head. I slowly began to make moves to head out West, I applied to become a farm intern, enrolled in a herbal medicine course, sold all my thrift store furniture, gave up my apartment and kept making products to give away as gifts and get feedback to tweak the recipes.
I moved to Salt Spring Island in May 2014, and through Youth Means Business entrepreneurial program I managed to get grant start up money and, with help from a business coach, whip up a legit business plan and do all the legal requirements to start a business in BC.
photo credit: Franzi Wer