Interview with Lauren Haynes of Wooden Spoon Herbs
I've admired Lauren Hayne's work over at Wooden Spoon Herbs, for quite a while now. When I discovered her on Instagram, I was immediately taken with the presentation of her products and the fact that she was, for the most part, working solo behind the scenes of this beautiful herbal company.
There are a lot of things in store for Lauren and Wooden Spoon Herbs this year. With her new offering of one on one wellness consultations, the upcoming Good Medicine Confluence in Durango, Co., and her Indiegogo campaign, Lauren is living proof that it's possible to create a world of beauty and knowledge while being a badass #businesswitch.
In case you didn't know, Lauren has launched an Indiegogo campaign to create her dream studio for Wooden Spoon Herbs. They have outgrown their current space and by contributing or simply sharing the campaign page, you're helping a small and trusted business expand and share more herbal medicine with the world. Which is always important. Check it out HERE
I like to start with the basics and I’m always so curious, what brought you to herbalism? Were plants a childhood fascination or something you discovered later on?
Plants were definitely a childhood fascination, along with animals! I have vivid memories of super verdant moss and the drive out to the country to visit relatives. I just wanted to coddle and nurture anything living, to develop relationship with it. So I loved all living things, and couldn’t wait to grow up to take care of the earth, buy organic foods, have a garden. I remember my mom telling me once, “I hope you get a good job to pay for all that organic food.”
My journey with herbalism began whilst working at a health food store. Walking around on my break one day, I discovered a selection of tinctures that were on clearance and only $5 apiece. Being the supreme bargain hunter I am, I wrote down the names of the plants and researched them all once I got home. And I was astounded. These plants could do so much. And such a variety of things! This really opened up my mind to how far we could go in self sufficiency and leaning on the earth to provide for us. There was no turning back!
You built Wooden Spoon Herbs mainly on your own, what has been the most challenging part about being a small business owner without a partner(s) for you?
Oof, great question. Well, really I started this business just going for it, knowing nothing about business. Very DIY, just like everything else I’ve ever done or made. Sometimes I do get a little envious of people who have business partners because they don’t have to make every single tiny decision on their own. But my boyfriend is so supportive, and lets me bounce so many ideas off of him so it feels like I have that support. It’s been hard making everything myself for so long, but I’m starting to bring people on to help. That’s part of the impetus behind my Indiegogo campaign, growing our space so that we can have more help! I love being in charge, steering this ship, and so I am looking forward to balancing that by building out a small team.
I love that you source the plants for your products from farmers or harvest them yourself. What made you choose that route as opposed to purchasing bulk herbs from bigger companies?
Nothing against the bigger companies, I definitely appreciate them for providing herbs to the masses, but I realized as a small business I have the opportunity to forge a different supply chain. I could make sure people have a living wage, see photos of these farms and even visit if I wanted to! So it was ultimately a way for me to keep the relationship of humans to plants a little bit more intimate. To commodify them less. But to be fair, during the winter a lot of times I will run out of say, red raspberry leaf and source from Mountain Rose, who does a lot of sustainability work and has amazing quality product. I don’t want to be a snob. I do want to steer away from relying on exotic herbs, to reduce our carbon footprint and decolonize my practice in any way possible.
Do you have a regular work routine? Or does your business life adjust day to day?
It’s pretty standard at this point! I wake up, answer emails, meditate and drink tea and then start filling orders, which takes up the bulk of my time. A few days a week my boyfriend works with me doing production, and then I can do fun stuff like this or write articles. Since we live in a rural area, a lot of days are spent in town running errands like picking up labels or making deliveries.
How do you like to practice self care? And what are some obstacles, if any, you face while maintaining a self care routine while running a business?
Obstacles to self care are running a business and working from home. I work a lot… which I love but it’s hard to turn off, because things are never finished per se. I have a lot of self care practices, from the boring like using a electric toothbrush to the more decadent, like taking a two hour tai chi class every week. I try to work out five days a week; that’s important to my mental wellbeing. And I try to eat three nourishing meals a day. I also take supplements: fish oil, evening primrose, beef liver pills, lion’s mane, hawthorn. I’m bad about making infusions & nettle doesn’t agree with me so I just take capsules (gasp!). So yeah, gardening, meditating, mindful movement, and just having as much fun as I can in general. Laughing a lot.
What is inspiring you these days?
The spring is really inspiring me! All the colors and flowers are just to die for. Drooling emoji. I am also loving so many podcasts: Medicine Stories, That’s So Retrograde, Aviva Romm’s podcast, Self-Service, Tarot for the Wild Soul, Dream Freedom Beauty, Herbal Highway, the Goop Podcast, and then some nerdy ones about business and online marketing. Also this place in Nashville High Garden inspires me endlessly. It’s a tea room and they have a ferment and herbal tonic bar and it looks like an elf built it… Man. It’s incredible. Also Liz of Sister Spinster inspires me so much. Everything she’s doing blows my mind. And my friend Mary Evans of Spirit Speak. She is a creative force and so inspiring. You of course inspire me! And the Kosmic Kitchen ladies, and the Villagers shop in Asheville is a great example of a cooperatively run shop. It’s a homesteading shop.
Spicy Carrot Soup, from Amy Chaplin
This is my favorite soup that I’ve been making constantly over the winter and early spring. It’s light but filling and so nourishing. I make it with coconut oil cornbread, from the Local Milk Blog.
2 stalks lemongrass, halved lengthwise and chopped in 2-inch pieces
6 Kaffir lime leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
2 medium onions, diced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons homemade Curry Powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons minced cilantro stems, leaves reserved for garnish
10 medium-large carrots (2 1/2 pounds), cut in 3/4nch dice (about 8 cups)
6 cups filtered water
1 13.5-fluid ounce can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk, stirred and divided
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
Sliced red chilies
Wrap lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves in a piece of cheese¬cloth and tie it tightly; set aside.
Warm coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden. Add garlic, ginger, serrano chili, and salt; cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, lowering heat if mixture begins to stick. Stir in curry powder, turmeric, and cilantro stems. Add carrots, water, 1 1/4 cups coconut milk, and lemongrass-lime leaf bundle. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes or until carrots are tender. Remove from heat and remove lemongrass-lime leaf bundle and compost.
Blend soup in batches in an upright blender on highest speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until completely smooth and velvety; return to pot and season to taste. Stir in the cayenne pepper if using. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a drizzle of reserved coconut milk, cilantro leaves, and sliced chilies.