Everyday growing up; I repeat, everyday, I would hear my mom, bless her, holler from the kitchen to my sister and I, “Drink this while it’s hot. Now!” Or “Finish your 凉茶 (aka said tonic drink) first, before you go out!” I would gulp it down so quickly, scalding my tongue along the way, not because I loved it, but because I really, really hated herbs. Then college happened and just like that, I moved and never had to see herbs again. Herbs, however, unbeknownst to me then, had a different plan. I wasn't going to be let off the hook so easily … slowly, but surely they found their way back into my life again.
mom and I when she's not chasing me down with tonic soups and drinks.
SINGAPORE → NEW YORK
But before that, let’s do a little relevant throwback with me walking by The Strand one day after class ’08. I stopped to buy a book on Soapmaking off the $3 shelf. It slowly became my chill-out thing, I guess some people would call it a hobby. But back then,I really did it because I was fascinated at soap’s ability to freeze motion in time and it’s similarities to the art of baking while yet being such a totally different medium. Soapmaking came with such history, beauty and science. This is to be narrated as 21-yr-old-art-school-newbie me who tried to somehow weave soapmaking into my design thesis. That didn’t happen. Nevertheless, I still loved it. This continued on, after college, through working in an ad agency, then a publishing house, then as a freelancer …
This is where the herbs started to sneak back in. As a freelancer, I started to have more time to myself and started developing, dare I say, a new hobby — Hiking. Then came camping, then fishing, soon, my life goals started to shift in an epic way.
Somehow, nature miraculously found a spot for itself in my urban, closed heart and grew through me.
Mind you, the longest time I ever spent with nature before this point was possibly camping out a night in a tent on my middle school’s track lawn (only because it was mandatory) hating life. So it was a big deal to me when I just wanted to know more: A leaf isn’t just a leaf. How can there be so much green around me but I know so little of it? Can I eat this leaf? Which plant did this leaf fall from?
I started wanting to combine my two loves together. Can I make this soap without anything that I don’t know where It came from? Can I still make this soap look the way I want it to with totally natural ingredients? Better yet, can I make this soap more beneficial to my skin than the batch before?
THE QUIET LANGUAGE OF PLANTS
It was like magic, I started to read more, learn more. Every ingredient was like a little problem to solve: how can I get the same shade of pink naturally? What essential oils can I use to replace fragrance oils? Why am I using all this junk that was inspired and derived to replace nature when nature is right here? From this point on, it was the fast track back into my relationship with herbs but this time it was #truelove. I started studying clinical herbalism at Arbor Vitae NY, needless to say, medicinal herbs and I have been inseparable since. Nothing short of a romance novella.
Ever since, my goal is to slowly weed out every single commercial item off my shelves and make products that I would want to use.
No bulls*** , no waiting for the “next new thing” to hit the shelves… just me and my new found re-admission pass into the natural world of medicinal plants and healing clays. Everything you see in store, is what I use everyday.
Even Keel is just me, and I am trying, everyday, to live life, even keel.