IntervieW with a bright light from Southwest Institute of Healing Arts

Savannah Clark of SWIHA's Urban Farming program asked me for an case you would like to know more about me, here it is:

1.) When did you discover that this path you have taken was your passion?
A sequence of divine and challenging events have led me to the path of herbalism and holistic healing. I am a dancer, sister, daughter, friend, teacher…we all need healers in our lives and I just happen to be the one (alongside many others in our community) to step forth and bring us back down to Earth. From having a life-threatening illness due to environmental contamination, a near-death experience, having friends fall into opiate addiction, watching cancer rates rise, and studying ecology & factory farming, many doors have opened for me to find a solution rather than simmer in disdain for our dysfunctional society. A fusion of business savvy actions and never-ending passion have generated a path for me to be in the position of offering people natural medicine in a ‘mainstream’ location of downtown Tempe, AZ. I am blessed and I’ve worked harrrrrrd.

2.) Did you ever see yourself in the positionyou are today?
Yes! I didn’t quite know what it would look like…At some phases in my life, I thought I would be a professional dancer at this age (I’m 26), or an organic chef, or a high school teacher…but none of those quite fit anymore. It doesn’t surprise me that I am a successful business owner and on the path to becoming a certified professional herbalist. I am a natural born leader and have always loved the Earth, its creatures & helping people. I am saturated in gratitude for the alchemy of my choices and opportunities.

3.) Do you grow and package all your herbs/apothecary needs yourself?
I currently craft 100% of Rainbow Bliss Botanicals products, from infusion to salve to syrup…I make all of that. All the ingredients are either wild-crafted by me (usually on new moons), certified organic from various farms in the USA West Coast, Fair-trade certified from Central/South America (like cacao, maca, lucuma, cardamom etc.), or homegrown. I currently grow and use Vitex, Calendula, Tulsi Basil, Lemon Balm, Artichoke leaf, Aloe Vera, Peppermint, Borage, Ashitaba, Lemongrass, Spilanthes, 2 varieties of chamomile… get the idea…I grow what herbs I can in addition to seasonal food, of course!

4.) If so, could you tell me about some experiences you have had growing in the desert?
Planting in succesion for the bees is so important! Feeding the bees and generating food security for them by always providing blossoms also generates food security for us: pollination and nectar creation. The bees LOVE borage and Monarda, basils, calendula, clovers, and Vitex (i know your beautiful school has vitex trees all around:). They love drought-tolerant blossoms like cats claw, mesquite, and ocotillo as well. I could go on all day about the bees, but other tips would be starting a compost right away so you can start generating soil! Trial and error is great as well; go to seed exchanges or plan them with friends and see what works well for you with the soil, sun & space that you have. I also talk to my plants all the time and love to feed my brassicas spring water diluted urine everyday….that will put some nitrogen in the soil for sure...Native Seed Search in Tucson and the Urban Farm in Phoenix are great resources for more information about Sonoran desert gardening. The Desert Botanical Gardens bi-annual plant sale is rad as well. There’s a beautiful network of farmers here in the Phoenix area!!

5.) How long did it take you to master your blends? (herbal blends,aromatherapy blends etc)
I am a novice who listens to elders but also tunes deeply into intuition. Knowing the action of each plant and/or oil is key, but also using whats available, sustainable, in season, or INSPIRING can lead to greatness. For example, I wouldn’t make an immune boosting or anti-bacterial medicine with elderberries from Washington if I was able to harvest fresh yerba mansa here in AZ…Local is powerful, but I’m down with it all..I’m studying Advanced Traditional Chinese Medicine Formulations and also Ayurveda…so tough finding most of those herbs local, but I still want to learn with them and use them in Planetary formulas. In the realm of all the medicinal mushrooms I dual extract, I craft formulas that combine beneficial fungi and herbs…these are inspired by a focus of WHY would someone want to take this. There’s one called Protect-SHen that I am in love with, completely inspired by a lingering sore throat I experienced. Fungal Wonder is sexy! It’s a blend that lubricates the soul…that is the intention. Amethyst Blessing is a “take-the-edge-off” kinda thang, and it works..There’s so many people pacing around with “anxiety” these days, that I love to formulate medicines to calm the Shen, Open the Heart, build Qi, and nourish the nerves.

6.) If and when you have failed; what did you do?
Wellll…..I’ve been trying to ferment a few thangs here and there. That’s been exciting…sometimes things turn out incredible…and sometimes I get too excited and combine a grip of ingredients together and it turns out FunKayy….like FYI never ferment maitake mushrooms..ew.. I mean I like weird tastes, but don’t go there. Hmmm what else….welll I also overbook myself. I think I can do it all with only 1 breath in between. I’m learning to do less, bee more, and always deliver with balance. For example, at Gem and Jam Festival last year I was booked for 3 workshops plus vending..that was ridiculous. Crowds of people were at the workshops and by the 3rd one I was magically in the ethers and had a hard thyme staying present…learning to pace myself. You could say I’m a work-a-holic, but when you’re work is play its hard to draw the line. For example, I’m booked to vend an event in California every weekend (SpiritWeavers, Women’s Visionary Congress, San Fransisco PRIDE…etc) and also a weekly Wednesday event in June as well as working free clinics for veterans, homeless, and mental health patients on Thursdays in Santa Cruz with East West. I’m also in full time school…so biting off less wouldn’t hurt occasionally.

7.) What is driving and inspiring you each day?
1 in 2 humans need to be a healer. We are so much more powerful than we know and with LOVE we can be guided towards a regenerative society whom LISTENS to the needs of Mother Earth and gives back to her as she does to us. It will be reallllly difficult to reach this if we are not all clearing susto (trauma & conditioning) from one another and healing each other…bringing each other back to our roots. That is what I am a catalyst for.

8.) If any, who are your mentors/inspiration?
Kathleen Harrison of Botanical Dimensions, Phyllis Hogan of Winter Sun Trading Co in Flagstaff, Micheal & Leslie Tierra (my teachers!), all the teachers at East West Planetary Herb School,  my chief/uncle and great friend Delmar Bonnie who taught me how to pray with the plants, ask for blessings, and walk in harmony. My parents have worked their a%* off to keep a roof over my head and provide an adventurous & meaningful life for me and my sister, and I am forever inspired by their love for each other and us. I used to have to clean out their cabinets of foods with MSG and corn syrup and now my dad is composting & growing food! In another 5 years of me nagging (with forceful smiles) maybe my family will be healed of anxiety, insomnia…making sun tea and harvesting prickly pear, making jelly, and making alters for the moon?! ….it’s good to have goals & visions. ; )

9.) Do you accept others products in your own store?
Absolutely! The physical brick n mortar shop is a retail space to support ethical medicines, clothes, local jewelry etc. Yes yes yes bring it on creatresses and creators. My gorgeous staff make smoking blends and teas that we have formulated, I make all the syrups, tinctures, glycerites, salves….aroma therapeutics (misters, synergies, chakra oils) are made by my mom and I. Most of the bliss squad employees also consign their hand-crafted medicines and ritual tools in there. From flower essences to pendulums to lip balms, the staff in Happy Healthy High Horny Herbs are extra-ordinary beings with many talents.

10.) If so, what are you looking for from the supplier and when a product is chosen is it based off of commission,space rental or do you buy the product in bulk and re-sale?
I consign the medicines made by staff, and cosign some sexy high-quality clothes from local designers, and the rest is wholesale. ALWAYS organic, certified GMO-free, local-as-possible, and Fair-trade forever. I used to have a hodgepodge of local arts covering all the walls…it got a lil crazy and hard to focus & keep track of, so now I have rotating artists set up a seasonal gallery on the we have 1-2 featured artists at a time and double as a gallery.

11.) Do you have any record keeping tips or advice?
HHmmmmmmm……I’m pretty old school..moving to digital slowly, but don’t ask me about record-keeping…i finally just got my first own laptop…i’m loowwww-tech. But keep your receipts, and honestly I like old-school. I have all invoices filed, receipts stacked, everything is physical and transparent. Keep it clean.

12.) Who made your website?
My sister and I made my website! I am a photographer, so I did all the photos and she did the graphics. My rad sister is the main graphic designer for the Heard Museum and Western Spirit Museum..she’s a classy & talented lady.

13.) what is your favorite marketing technique?
Vending small festivals where I can really connect with the customer is the best~ Meaningful & generates repeat happy customers. Also positive word-of-mouth is powerful. I don’t know anything about online marketing or search engine optimization…maybe someone who reads this can teach me? Xoxo

14.)What advice would you give someone like me who is interested in the same field?
Don’t wait until you are “qualified” or “certified” to experiment with business ideas. Experience is everything, start now. Craft a vision and be flexible. Fu%* beliefs and know your greatness. Practice kindness. Stay humble & diligent. For the sake of all creatures; Plant love.