Hi Amy, can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved with natural products? It's funny, I think my journey with herbs and natural products began longer ago than I had originally thought. During my senior year as an undergraduate (circa 2002), I had to come up with a senior art project that I could display in a gallery show. My art degree emphasis was Graphic Design so I came up with packaging for a line of herbal products I created called Dandelion Fairy Botanicals. I made the packaging from recycled materials and designed a logo for the product line. The products I made for the line included handmade soap, candles and herbal oils. Now that I look back on it, it was a glimpse into the future -- I now create and sell herbal body care products! It took me many years to really learn about the plants and how to make effective natural products with them.
I moved to Tucson, AZ , in 2003 and I fell in love with the plants of the Sonoran Desert. I enjoyed many years of working in marketing agencies, for non-profits, art galleries and companies dedicated to sustainability, helping them with their design and marketing needs. But after a few years, I felt I needed to explore this passion I had discovered for plants. I took my first herbalism workshop in 2007. We made a rosemary tincture and lotion using herbally-infused oils. From that moment, I knew that I wanted to learn more about plants and how to use them as tools for creating wellness and balance. Between 2007 and 2009, I completed certification programs in Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and Permaculture. These all encouraged my desire to cultivate a career in connection with plants and wellness.
In 2010, I began an apprenticeship with John Slattery of Desert Tortoise Botanicals in Tucson. I learned about sustainable wild-harvesting; we learned how to dig up roots and harvest tree bark, leaves, flowers and fruit. We learned about indigenous uses of plants. I had the honor of studying with a Seri elder named Dona Olga and a classmate of mine taught me what she knew from the Pasqua Yaqui tradition. We learned to make herbal remedies, including salves, tinctures and teas. I also studied a bit with Charles Kane that year, learning more about the plants of the Southwest. We made tinctures and essential oils from fresh plant material.
In 2011, I became a health coach through Integrative Nutrition. From 2012-2014, I studied at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism where I became a Certified Clinical Herbalist, Certified Clinical Nutritionist and Certified Flower Essence Practitioner. I can't say enough about this school -- it changed my life! I had the honor of learning from so many great teachers, including Paul Bergner, Lisa Ganora, Lyn Romero and Kat MacKinnon. We studied clinical herbalism, phytochemistry, botany, anatomy and physiology, and herbal medicine-making.
I 2013, I apprenticed with Erin Smith, the Director of the Center for Integrative Botanical Studies (CIBS), and who is now the Sustainability and Education Manager at WishGarden Herbs. This experience further expanded my knowledge of Indigenous Cultures and their connection with the plant world. Through CIBS, I was also able to study Indigenous Permaculture with Shannon Francis. I was working as a Community Herbalist at Rebecca's Apothecary during this time, mixing up custom tea blends and educating customers about the natural products available in the apothecary. From 2015-2017, I worked as a Clinical Nutritionist and Herbalist at a functional medicine clinic in Boulder. I connected clients with many natural products to help them optimize their health, including supplements, and custom herbal tea and flower essence blends. I'm now in private practice, utilizing all of the knowledge I've learned along the way, to connect people with natural remedies within the framework of a holistic lifestyle.
You're the Social Media Coordinator at WishGarden. What do you do in this role? While I have spent the past 12 years working in the herbalism and nutrition fields, I also have 24 years of marketing and graphic design experience, with 10 of those years focused on social media marketing, website design and online content management. So this Social Media Coordinator position beautifully combines all of that experience. It allows me to maintain a creative outlet through photography and graphic design, while utilizing my herbalism and nutrition background to create content.
Since 2017 I've been working with WishGarden in this role, using marketing strategies to help connect people with WishGarden formulas. Because I'm so passionate about herbal products, and making them accessible to all, this feels like a natural fit for me. I work closely with our Creative Manager Malia Thompson, our Sustainability & Education Manager Erin Smith and our Instagram Coordinator Jamie McKeown to coordinate the social media content calendar, the daily posting of Facebook and Twitter posts, social media advertising, promotion of special events, and social media giveaways.
I also create custom graphics and photography for our social media feeds. I use these graphics and photos to feature products and specific herbs that we highlight each month. I love not only informing people about the products, but also educating them about the herbs we use. This helps to encourage an intimate connection with the plants themselves, rather than just a product.
Another priority of mine is to make sure we feature posts about some of our herb distributors who are either sustainably wild-harvesting or growing organic herbs and using sustainable farming practices. The quality of the herbs we use is so important to us. We like to let our customers know that they can trust that we do the behind-the-scenes work to create products for them that are made with only the best ingredients and with the utmost respect for the plants and our planet.
The project I'm working on right now that I am most passionate about is a fundraising campaign for a joint project we're doing with Big Green. We are raising money to create Wellness Learning Gardens for kids! I'm working closely with Erin Smith, key players at Big Green and faculty at GALS school in Denver to design these gardens and develop curriculum for youth to learn about herbs -- how to grow them and how to use them in their daily lives. It's so exciting! We'll be launching a fundraising campaign soon, so keep an eye on our social media feeds if you're interested in helping us reach our fundraising goals! We're also collecting donations at events all over the country. Information about those events can also be found on our Facebook feed and event page.
You're a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, a Certified Clinical Herbalist, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, a Certified Flower Essence Practitioner and Permaculture Designer and Consultant. How you do incorporate all those areas of knowledge into your private practice? Well, this is the fun part for me -- creatively weaving all of these wellness modalities into unique sessions for my clients. A session looks a little different for each person, depending on their needs and which modality is most effective for them in that moment. I use herbalism, nutrition and permaculture principles to recommend holistic lifestyle strategies. I use custom tea, tincture and flower essence blends to increase vitality and enhance the lifestyle strategies. And I use health coaching techniques to help my clients set and reach their health goals.
What is your favorite herb and why? I knew you were going to ask this question! This is a tough one. herbalists can never just name one! Well, I named my daughter Rosemary, so that may be my favorite. The first herbal remedy I ever made was a rosemary tincture. It remains a very potent herbal ally for me, in all of its forms. And my daughter's middle name is Larrea (latin name for creosote) so that one comes in as a close second for me. Anyone who has ever smelled creosote after a healthy monsoon rain knows why this plant holds a special place in my heart. I have other favorites for other reasons -- Oregon Grape Root, Calendula, Althea (marshmallow) and Artemesia.
Do you have a favorite WishGarden product? Milk Rich, hands down! I took this religiously when I was nursing my daughter. I literally drank bottles of it for 19 months!For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any products.