A PERENNIAL LOVE STORY

 

The project-turned-lifestyle that is SOiL certainly didn't start as a business idea.  I just couldn’t find skincare products that I enjoyed using, so I started making my own.

First I used organic ingredients I had sourced myself, but it wasn’t long before I started growing my own plants (a long-time spiritual practice/obsession) so that I could have an even more intimate connection with each recipe.  I have always had sensitive skin, and never knew what to do about it.  In my late teens and twenties I was fortunate to find success as a model that took me out of the small rural town I grew up in and into a whole new universe of opportunity all around the world.  It was a great experience for my mind and soul, but my poor skin took a beating. Frequent travel, broken sleep patterns, late nights, long days in makeup and harsh cleansers to remove it all took their toll over the years.

I started looking for what I knew I needed – boutique brands with very high quality all natural organic ingredients and simple recipes.  Knowing what I knew (even then) about plants and their medicinal qualities, I felt like there had to be products out there that could heal my skin while cleansing, moisturizing, etc.  I tried everything I could find, first in department stores and then in health food stores (remember those?) and farmers markets.  I met a lot of interesting people, but still wasn’t satisfied.

After my son was born in 2004 I started to feel a very powerful pull back toward the natural world that had surrounded me growing up in rural North Carolina. Maybe it was becoming a mother that shifted my focus on the soil, the land, the water, the sun, and the real cycles interwoven into all things.  Maybe I just couldn’t imagine raising my kids in the city.  Either way, in 2006 we sold our house in a hip up-and-coming neighborhood in East Los Angeles and moved to Asheville, an art and herb friendly college town in the Smoky/Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.  I had just turned 34.  I quit modeling, started transitioning into a stay at home mom, and signed up for the first of what would become many herbal medicine classes.

 

 

The first product I created was a Cleanser/Toner, a simple formula packed full of some of my favorite herbs. Once I got the recipe right, the effect was instantaneous.  My skin was clean but, miraculously, not irritated!  Next I made Rosemary Serum to add extra nourishment and protect from daily pollutants.  I don’t know how else to explain it but that the whole ritual felt “alive”.  Living ingredients gently combined to make my skin feel “alive” too, like I was feeding and nourishing rather than simply stripping and irritating it.  I knew I was on to something because, for the first time in my life, my own skin felt “happy”.

 

 

It wasn’t long before family and friends started telling me about their own skin issues, which I took as a welcome challenge to create more herb-filled, clean products.  I wanted to address their specific problems while supporting the overall health of their skin, just as I had done with my own. Working with people of all different ages and skin concerns led me to create products for a full range of skin types and issues. One day while I was pouring something for a friend I realized I had inadvertently created a line of skincare products. Nourishment for the skin. Skin medicine!

When the products started working for my friends and family, those friends and family started wanting to share them with other friends and other families.  They encouraged me to package and sell them. Once the idea of going in to business started to sink in, I asked myself if there was anything missing.  What could I do right now to protect the quality and intimacy of the products as the scope of my labor of love expanded into the future?

The one thing that kept coming up for me was wanting to know more about where the plants I was using for my formulas came from, and what care was taken while they were being grown and harvested. I always used organic herbs from an online supplier that I knew and trusted, but I didn’t know how or when these plants were harvested and those questions concerned me. How much life could be left in them if they sat stored for months, maybe years before getting to me?

I decided I myself needed to grow all the plants that went into the extracts for my products.  I drafted my husband and my dad and started a small herb farm on my family’s land about three hours from Asheville, where our home and my lab are. I had no idea how much work this new adventure would be but with lots of help from my family and a dear friend, I am now able to grow all the plants that go into Soil's formulas.

I start from seed, plant, grow, nurture, harvest, and process all the plants before they go into the extracts.  I am there for every step from seed to bottle. This means that the vital energy and potent medicine of the plants is able to be directly transferred into the formulas without losing quality and/or beneficial properties. The healthy, clean environment the plants mature in, along with the care I take when creating each product allows for pure, living, nutrient-rich skincare. I believe absorbing the nutrients and healing properties from these potent plants and oils makes for healthier, happier skin and -- skin looks and feels better.

I hope that Soil helps you not only to experience healthier skin, but to feel the connection to the essential everyday magic of the natural world that’s inside every bottle . . . and right below your feet.