Wooden Spoon Herbs
This interview is the first in our series of conversations with members of the Plant Family. It will give you a little more insight into the brands and the founders behind the brand. We are honored to have Wooden Spoon Herbs as this first interview as she was one of the original members of the Plant Family. Looking forward to sharing many more stories from Plant Family and we hope you enjoy this series!
Ally + Jes
1. How did you get started on your path working with plants? What inspired you to start your brand? How has it changed your life?
I feel like I was pretty much born in sync with plants and animals; I've always wanted to advocate for them and preach relationship with them. It was really just encountering the slow food movement that started me on this journey, first through what I was eating, foraging for wild edibles in an urban area, and then eventually learning that many of the same plants could be used as medicine. Literally once I realized that everything in my life clicked and it's snowballed from there.
What inspired me to start my brand was, I guess, seeing others do it and knowing I had something to offer the conversation as well, especially coming from the southeast and not having this consciousness in common with many people I knew. People like Rachel Budde from Fat and the Moon, Sarah and Summer of The Kosmic Kitchen, Kristen and Elie from Portland Apothecary, and a handful of other businesses being run by rad babes really inspired me from afar. I was like, "yes, I want in."
My life has changed a lot since I started my brand. For one, it's a lot busier! I don't get to clock in and out or think about much outside my business. That's changing, slowly. But yeah, navigating running a business is a wild ride. I've enjoyed the challenges, but sometimes wish I could just be outside, communing with plants instead of making up spreadsheets and answering emails.
2. What is your favorite plant and why? What has been your journey with this plant?
Ooh! Well, I'll always have a zillion favorite plants, but I'll talk about one special plant that I've been in relationship for the past few years, which is mullein. I have such a strong attraction to this plant, and over the summer of 2018 developed some scary lung issues that were a result of stress and inflammation, and taking mullein everyday really helped me through that. I had been building a relationship with some mullein species on my land, and then, yeah, it just really held my hand through a scary time.
3. What are some of the local flowers and herbs near you that you might use in your products?
I try not to wildcraft from my land or area for commercial products, opting to source my botanicals from small farms instead. To me, the land on which I live is a relationship of stewardship and respect, and I would never want to cross that line in any way. But many wonderful plants grow around me that source separately for my products like goldenrod, elderflower, elderberry and skullcap. Other favorite local plants are hawthorn, witch hazel, huckleberry, rabbit tobacco, and sassafras.
4. Is the creation process behind your products by instinct or was there a lot of studying behind each herb and plant you use?
Definitely both! I think you have to know the in's and out's of the plants that you're formulating with, but when it comes down to the actual formulation, for me, it's mostly intuitive and inspired. That's where the magic comes from.
5. What is one of your favorite products you make and why? Why are these ingredients good for your body?
I really love our new face oil, the Rama Hemp Serum. It has hemp oil which is so calming and clearing for the skin, rosehip oil which tonifies and nourishes, almond oil, argan and vitamin e. It's so delectable and I can feel my skin drink it up.
6. What are some ways your business is eco friendly, environmentally conscious or helps grow more plants?
Our sourcing is the most important way our business is eco-friendly. Beyond flavor and potency, sourcing from small herb farms in the US ensures a smaller carbon footprint than buying herbs from a distributor who has sourced them globally. We also use 100% compostable or recycled packaging when shipping and for the products themselves. And we're members of the United Plant Savers, which works to preserve medicinal plants in their native environments.
7. What has your experience been like on this journey? What is some advice you would give to aspiring plant artists? Any books or educational recommendations?
It's the best my life has ever been! It's allowed me to touch people's lives, learn so much about this mysterious world we live in, and also tend to my own wellbeing.
My favorite media on herbalism include:
The Herbalist's Way by Nancy and Michael Phillips
The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green
Anything by Rosemary Gladstar
The Kosmic Kitchen blog
The Herbal Highway podcast
8. What is your vision for your future work with plants? With wildcrafting and foraging? Its an important way for us as awakened plant people to connect with plants but is this still a viable option? What are your opinions?
Loaded question here! In my dreams, my future working with plants will transition from a product-based business to a service-based business, focused on clinical herbalism and educational offerings. I'd also love to have a brick and mortar healing center. So that's loosely my ten-year plan.
As for wildcrafting, it's such a nuanced topic. My public stance when I teach beginner workshops is just don't do it... But that's not realistic and needs to be unpacked. Will think on this... I think we could do a whole interview just on wildcrafting practices! My personal practice with wildcrafting is to make a small amount of medicine with the plants I will actually need and know how to use each year. Or, for some evergreen plants like pippsissewa, I only harvest a small amount as needed and make sure I do that from different stands around the area.