I’m the youngest of 4 siblings with a big age gap between myself and my brother and with that I often found myself on my own creating lotions and potions in our garden, our childhood home used to be a farm so there was space to roam and I’d be off through the hole in our hedge running around the fields and forests behind our house. My mum brought us all up on her own and worked really hard running her business and out in the garden and beyond foraging berries was were I had my special time with her, she introduced me to a few herbs that she knew of for first aid and would talk to me a lot about foods that she grew and why they were good for you. She was a war baby and taught me the importance of self sufficiency, although I am nowhere near as hard working, independent and creative as her I recognise that her ‘doing’ inspired me and still does.
I’ve always tried to buy organic which most probably started from my mum growing all our fruit and veg and watching and learning from this what was available to us seasonally. In New York when I had a little more money I’d visit the farmers market on Union Square. I got to chat to the farmers there coming from up state and around, it was then I first started to use nutrition and organic foods to help manage my own wellbeing. Unfortunately, I also had close friends that had been diagnosed with chronic illnesses and I was really interested in how I could support them through nutrition and herbs in some ways it was New York that inspired me to start studying naturopathy!
I went on to study with many inspiring teachers but one that truly was an inspiration was Christopher Hedley. He was a wizard of sorts, over 6ft 3 with wild white hair and a mischievous nature. He lived in Primrose Hill with his wife, Non Shaw who was also a herbalist and author like himself.
I started Wilder with just a few herbal tea formulas and a body oil I made for myself and friends which we named Flower Of The Sun. These were the beginning formulations, an extension of my practice with my clients over the last 20 years, and ones that I felt we all needed. I was seeing clients that wanted to use herbs but found it hard to know and source organic or wildcrafted, good quality herbs. I wanted to inspire people to use herbs in their everyday routines.
We only make products that we ourselves need and use or ones more recently that we’ve been asked to make by our Wilder community to produce! We make in small batches to attain the herbs energy and vitality and produce everything ourselves for optimum quality.
The herbs I’m most drawn to are those that grow wild in scrublands and waysides, local seasonal and medicinal herbs like Nettle, Chickweed, Cleavers, Rose hips, Hawthorn, Dandelion, Elder, there really are so many! The love for these herbs hasn’t shifted over time, it’s just grown even stronger as I return to certain trees each season or gather rose hips with my growing children.
My husband who is also my partner in Wilder and I love the making of the products the most. He works mostly with the macerating of the oils and I work with the dry herbs and tincturing. I can sometimes be feeling the heaviness of running a business and then when I start work again with the herbs and start making everything becomes light again its finding that balance which is often really hard. This is why one day I would like to move us all to the countryside where we can all expand, grow, and have the space to macerate, tincture and create more.
Season changes really affect me, which probably suggests that all change is quite tricky for me. I can immerse myself into the season change eventually but even that shift from Winter to Spring and everything incredible that the new season is going to bring can be quite a transition for a few weeks. Adjusting, and a lot of letting go.
We do know when something doesn’t agree with us, or doesn’t feel right, if something is exhausting us and I think my ’top tip’ would be to recognise these signals and change it around to suit you. To look to the ‘whole’ of yourself, the physical, mental, and spirit. It’s such a fine balance but often we’re so disconnected from ourselves. Each one of us is different, what works for some may not work for us and that should be respected by all.
If you are interested in finding out more about herbalism and natropathy, I love all of Rosemary Gladstar's books, David Hoffman, Thomas Bartrum, these are almost my bibles. Then recently there's Erin Lovell Verinder on instagram whose feed is beautiful.
I feel plant medicine is the way forward and for us to reconnect to this plant wisdom is so important for our future. To use herbs as preventative as well as curative and within our everyday lives, keeping the herbs uses alive in teas, tinctures, oils and storytelling is so important for generations to come.
Take for example our Wilder Botanic Serenity Tea: In no other system of the body is the interconnectedness of the physical and the psychological of our being as apparent as in the nervous system. We created a blend of tonic and relaxant, organic herbs to strengthen and nourish this system to support the body and mind to flourish as a whole, using
Chamomile as an excellent gentle sedative, with carminative action.
Lavender as a powerful herb in relieving tension and insomnia helping to promote natural sleep.
Oats as one of the best nerve tonics for the over worked , stressed and anxious .
Lemon Balm as it contains volatile oils and tannins that have a relaxing effect on the nervous and digestive systems, easing exhaustion and helping with sleeplessness.
In this way, we use centuries-old naturopathic techniques of infusing, macerating, drying and tincturing, to create a tonic tea for the 21st century, keeping these methods and stories alive for the generations that follow.