Thursday, March 19, 2009

Meet the Mafia - Herban Lifestyle

Tell us about yourself and your business.
I make herbal bath and body products that are handcrafted in small batches using natural and organic ingredients, pure-essential oils, in earth-friendly packaging. Unlike other bath and body product businesses that call their products natural, I never use artificial preservatives, synthetics, artificial fragrances, artificial colors, petroleum-based ingredients, parabens, SLS, GMO's or anything else that is bad for your health and the Earth.

I believe in giving back, so I donate 5% of my gross sales to charity, including Sierra Club,Herb Research Foundation and Martha’s Table. And 100% of the profits from my O-BALM-A lip balm goes to Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest). All of my products come packaged in recyclable containers and my labels are printed with soy ink on 100% recycled paper.

How did you come up with your crafty name?
I wanted a name that incorporated the word “herb” to emphasize basis of my products and natural aspect of what I do. I played around with “herb” and “herbal” then realized that “herban,” even though it wasn’t a real word, worked best. Plus I liked the contrast between the feel of “urban” and “herban.” I added “lifestyle” because my craft isn’t just about bath and body products, it’s about living consciously, creating things that support the health and wellbeing of individuals and the planet.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Suggestions from customers and friends, and products that I want in a natural form all inspire my product formulations. And, for a while, when I was on a naturopath-directed diet that eliminated wheat, sugar and dairy, my inspiration for new products was the desserts I h
ad been deprived of (Mint Chocolate Chip Lip Balm, Sugar Cookie Scrub, Tangerine Dreamsicle Lip Balm and Bath Salts).

What is the ugliest thing you've ever made?I tried making soap from an herbal infusion mixed into reprocessed cold process soap. It came out really mushy with a strange brown color, and didn’t hold its shape. It smelled great, but I couldn’t stand to look at it.

What have you made that you're most proud of?
I am proud of all of my products (except the above-mentioned soap), but I’d say I was most proud when I completed my first dream pillow since sewing is a bit of a challenge for me.

What's your favorite thing about Washington, D.C. (or the Metro area)?
When I moved here from the New York Metropolitan area, I was afraid that I would miss the seemingly limitless choices of restaurants and music venues I had access to up North. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that the selection of food and musical entertainment was just as good, if not better, here. I also love all the free museums, and the cultural and ethnic diversity of this area. Plus the Metro is amazing – so clean and easy to navigate. There’s lots to love about this area.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
When I’m not creating bath products, I work as a consultant with a firm that contracts with the National Institutes of Health. I oversee the review of cancer prevention programs to be posted on one of the NIH websites. It keeps me up-to-date with the latest in cancer prevention knowledge (part of the impetus behind my creating truly natural body products) and is a really good use of my academic training in health psychology. I also am a Reiki practitioner, and part of a national team that is conducting systematic reviews of Reiki research. And, while I’ve studied herbs and aromatherapy informally for the past 10 years, I have been undertaking formal herbalism studies for a little over a year. I am an artist and a scientist and healer.

For fun, I love to travel, cook, try out new restaurants, practice yoga, hang out with friends, meet new people, and blog.

What advice would you give to fellow crafters?
Feel good about what you’re doing! Crafting makes the world a better place! It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s local, and it’s real.

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