An Interview With WishGarden's Malia Thompson
Hi Malia, can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved with natural products?
I've been exposed to natural products my whole life. Growing up in the '70s with the original hipster-type parents (my mom doesn't like it when I call them hippies), I have childhood memories of my family camping in either Arizona or Colorado and having to brush my teeth and bathe in the freezing cold creek, and wash dishes (also in the freezing cold creek), with Peppermint Dr. Bronner's soap! I go for the rose-scented soap these days and I certainly don't brush my teeth with it anymore!
My interest in herbs and natural products blossomed when I moved to Durango to finish up college. Dancing Willow Herbs and Maria's Bookstore were mainstays for my budding interest. But it wasn't until I turned 40 and started to see an herbalist/nutritionist to help me get pregnant that I really went headlong and fully committed to herbal remedies and dietary changes. I was 46 years old when I began my formal herbal training at the Colorado School for Clinical Herbalism. Thus the name of my website, Late Bloomer Herbals.
You're intimately involved in helping WishGarden with its branding and identity efforts. What does a "common day" consist of for you? Are there any particularly exciting projects you are working on that you can share with us?
There is a lot to do everyday. Big projects include the redesign of our labels. We finished the Adult line, and are now working on the Kid's, Women's, and Pregnancy lines. This is really exciting to get all of the products packaged with cohesion. There were relics of labels past still lingering on the 1 oz dropper products.
We have retail store initiatives, like our Herbal Booster Shot program that we are implementing in regional Whole Foods and PharMaca locations. We are getting ready to go to the Natural Foods Expo in Anaheim, which is huge. And of course we have our Mocktail program, which has been a BIG success. I wrote a blog for WishGarden recently about this program — Mocktail Anyone? We discovered that our formulas — especially our "lifestyle" blends like Genius Juice, Liquid Bliss, Deep Stress, and Digestive Rescue GI Normalizer — taste spectacular in kombucha. Developing this program, training our Regional Educators, and showcasing this special store demo to retailers keeps me very busy!
You have a web site, Late Bloomer Herbals, in which you offer services and a blog. Can you tell us a little about the web site and the consultations you provide?
I am trained in the Vitalist Tradition of Western Herbalism and received an excellent education at the Colorado School for Clinical Herbalism in Boulder. I am a certified Clinical Herbalist and Clinical Nutritionist and flower essence practitioner. People come to me for a wide variety of reasons, including thyroid issues, auto-immune issues, sexual and reproductive health, addiction recovery support, and emotional issues like stuck patterns, for which I use flower essences.
I have a blog that features classes I teach, and articles and monographs that I write for various publications. The writing aspect has been a surprising development for me. It is something that has transpired naturally without me actively pursuing it. But I am loving it, and find that I really enjoy writing.
I also have a photo gallery on my site. I "love love love" taking photos of flowers, bugs, and anything interesting. In addition to growing, wild-harvesting, and making formulas and body-care items with herbs, photography is another way I commune with the plants that I meet out in the world. I hope my love for nature and its healing powers shows through in my photos.
We are witnessing dynamic growth for WishGarden — and for the natural products sector. What do you attribute that to?
There's been a steady build-up in the natural products sector since the early '90s — the Herbal Renaissance. Everything has its peaks and valleys, and its full-circle, back-to-basics cycles. I am excited to be part of this resurgence — both as an herbalist and as a part of WishGarden — touching the lives of thousands of people. Over-the-Counter remedies can be great in certain situations, but herbal remedies are so safe and effective without the side-effects. I think of WishGarden as the "gateway" for many people to discover the power of herbal remedies. When I am out doing events at retail stores or staff trainings, people will tell me stories about how WishGarden helped them or a loved one — often with tears in their eyes. I have received so many deep hugs full of gratitude on behalf of WishGarden. This makes my job so fulfilling.
We notice that you originally hail from Hawaii. What's the herbal scene like there?
There is a strong Hawaiian herbal tradition that I was not aware of when I returned to live there in my early college days. My attention had not fully turned to plants as remedies at that point yet, although one of my favorite classes in college was botany of Hawaiian Plants, which covered everything from the formation of the islands, native flora and fauna, introduced species, and native Hawaiian uses and folklore for many plants. Great field trips, too!
What do you do for fun?
I like to be outside as much as possible. Gardening, hiking, photography, wildcrafting, herbal formulation, writing, making art, being with friends, eating good food, music, dancing, laughing. You know, the simple pleasures.
What is your favorite herb and why? Oh gosh. You expect an herbalist — not to mention a Libra — to answer a question like that?! : )
It always changes. I've always had a thing for schisandra, though. Daily allies are Red Clover, Nettles, Calendula, Tulsi. anything mint. I grew Scullcap and gotu kola for the first time this past summer, so those are amazing!
Dandelion is incredible and so undervalued by the general public. If everyone stopped spraying pesticides on them and instead ate the young spring leaves, made fritters from the yellow blossoms, and dug up the fall roots for teas and infusions, I think we'd have less of a need to spray because there would be less plants going to seed due to consumption. I know — a crazy, idealist, herbalist dream!
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 to sell any product.