Live, eat and beautify the natural way. I grew up planting tomatoes with my Dad in our backyard garden and with a Mom who taught me olive oil is, actually, a good facial moisturizer. I recently met a woman who makes a living embracing the natural elements. Read on to learn about this cropped and curated lifestyle, by Jenn Segale, founder of Garden Apothecary. A professional horticulturist, her knowledge and plant passion have birthed a brilliant company everyone should know about.
What is your constant muse?
Nature is my constant muse. Dirt. Flowers. Seed pods. Roots. I love it all and constantly try to find ways to capture it, then show it to the world. Whether it’s through my landscape design company or my product line, I find that everyone wants to learn a little something about nature – and I’m always happy to share.
When did you begin Garden Apothecary?
Six years ago as a simple garden blog. My background is in farming and botany, and after doing landscape design for so many years, I found I wanted a place to house my pictures and rant about nature. About a year later, I started the product line. Although “botany” and “beauty products” seem like a far leap, it’s amazing how well the two subjects go together. I always tell customers the only reason my brand stands out is because of my background. I am not an esthetician. I’m a botanist. I know plants and luckily they happen to be good for us and make us beautiful! I ensure that when you order one of my Vanilla body scrubs, you don’t just smell a vanilla-like fragrance. You see a whole organic vanilla pod, the tiny seeds and smell the intense oils. Most people will never get the chance to see the Vanilla plantifolia orchid in the wild, but with my products, it comes to you.
Tell us about your trip to Belize. Did it inspire your Spring 2013 line?
I spent about a month traveling in Belize last January and another three weeks in November. It was an incredible experience to meet and spend time with local Shaman, bush-medicine healers and farmers for weeks on end. I toured spice and cacao farms, abandoned jungle plots, Mayan ruins, medicinal plant trails, and small family gardens. I enjoyed being in the jungle looking for medicinal plants. The jungle is like no place in nature I’ve ever experienced and it was intense to see the layers of teeming wildlife all around. I’m currently writing a book, called Sacred Plants, profiling four people I spent time with in Belize and their relationship to healing plants. I fell in love with cacao when I spent time on a organic family farm in San Pedro de Columbia. Cacao creates a lovely, rich elixir, once fermented, roasted, ground and mixed with hot water. But used as a powder can be an intriguing beauty treatment. Cacao’s natural fatty oils are rich with healthy properties that get absorbed quickly in the blood stream. I’m playing around with body scrub recipes and have recently released a batch of organic cacao perfume and massage oil. Once you use it, you really know why it is called the food of the Gods.
What is one product you would never want to live without?
Honey. For your face or hair, honey is the magic skincare product. I mix two tablespoons of raw, local honey with one of my French green clay mud masks for a indulgent daily face cleanser.
What does the public need to know when it comes to organic products?
I think it’s important to remember your skin is your largest organ. We absorb most everything our skin comes in contact with, some moving through our system with ease and others getting trapped and causing health problems. If you wouldn’t want to eat or drink your body care products, don’t use them! There are an abundance of amazing organic products out there, and hunting them down will be worth it for your body. Buy products with a shelf life, an organic label and something that has few ingredients. If you cannot pronounce the ingredients on your body care labels after a glass of wine, don’t use it. I guarantee you’ll be able to read mine…even after two glasses!
What will never go out of style?
Flowers will never go out of style. We are inspired by their color for beauty, their geometry for fashion and their scent for body products. Giving someone flowers is a centuries old tradition of showing how you feel. Cultivating, picking, eating, bathing in and smelling flowers is a practice that will never go out of style.
What are cure-all skin secrets?
Drinking tap water is my cure-all skincare secret! I try to avoid bottled water and just go for filtered tap, drinking it at room temperature or with an organic tisane tea. Best thing you can do for your mind and body!
What advice would you give your 25 year old self?
Ha! I would tell my 25 year old self to keep going exactly as you are, with maybe a bit less carb intake! It’s amazing how great of a track we are on, when we think we know nothing.
Is there an experience or person who had a significant influence on you or your business?
A lot of people motivated me to keep going on my path in life. My Grandma and parents always told my brother and sister and I to “do your thing.” We somehow managed to take that and use it as a life lesson and just follow our passions and be weird. Also, as cliche as it sounds, plants really keep me on track. It’s so simple with nature – is this healthy and does it look and feel nice? That’s all you really need to answer in order to stay fulfilled. Filthy, curse-word rampant hip-hop music helped a lot, too. When all else fails, listen to Snoop Dogg!
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed.
Photos c/o Garden Apothecary