What better way to kick off the inspiring people sect of Wildfolk than highlighting a woman who has taken the love of herb (because we love earth + herb!) to the next level?
Based out of Santa Cruz, California the creator of Urb, Lenya, marries all sorts of beautiful, natural ingredients to provide for us an aesthetically pleasing, accessible and convenient way to treat our bodies to what it needs and even more, what it enjoys! Wildfolk took second and interviewed this innovative entrepreneur, to better introduce you to the deliciousness that is Urb Apothecary:
WILDFOLK: So Leyna, tell us a little about you!
LEYNA: weeeeelll. I live in the city but at any opportunity you can find me in the forest or some nature reserve picking up moss, sticks, mossy sticks [ha], and foraging - testing my flora and fauna identification skills. There is actually a "childrens" game for that...I need it.
WILDFOLK: What inspired you to start Urb?
LEYNA: I wouldn't say that I was inspired to start URB APOTHECARY per say. My father was self-employed and my mom did the accounting; there were times of feast or famine. Needless to say, I didn't grow up dreaming of starting my own business, quite the opposite.
The human body (the skin is our largest organ! protects against so much but also absorbs whatever is smeared, rubbed or patted on it!) and nutrition fascinated me - and as a child (aha, maybe I still do) I spent all my time outdoors playing with and eating all sorts of wild herbs and berries so I studied Food and Nutrition in college. There I was fed mostly Food Pyramid garbage, portion size, blah blah blah. But HERBS! It's how native people's treated, cared, and healed themselves.
I have a habit, eerr tradition, of making my own Christmas presents, so November 2012 I started researching healing herbs and oils, infused them together for a month, made it into salves and gave them to friends, family, and coworkers as gifts. The response was something I wasn't quite prepared for. Everyone of them telling me that I needed to make more and sell them....and thus, little baby URB was conceived.
WILDFOLK: What has been the most challenging but rewarding part of this experience for you?
LEYNA: The most challenging part for me was STARTING THE BUSINESS. Terror stricken; fear of failure, fear of success, fear of having NO CLUE how to run much less start a business. But I figured since it scared me so much it was something worthwhile, so I pinched my nose and cannon-balled in. So that is the most rewarding part...the coming up for breath after that cannon-ball and realizing that it's not as scary as I thought (it's still scary though!) and I am learning, I am growing, and I can do this!
WILDFOLK: What is your favorite herb to work with and why?
LEYNA: Only one herb huh? Well, I guess it would be Comfrey. It's considered a weed to most lawn fanatics (actually most powerful herbs are weeds!) but it's healing powers are insane! It is anti-inflammatory, astringent (means that it draws the skin together), encourages cell growth, and can heal wounds and BONE! If you have a broken bone a concoction of Comfrey will actually help knit the bone back together! Crazy!
Rosemary Gladstar is a well-know herbalist and in one of her books she writes about longevity herbs. "They aren't life extenders; what they will do is increase quality of life..." she considers our very common weeds to be our most vital healing plants. "They are powerful and abundant, and the more you try to run over them and dig them out, the happier they are." She stresses the use of these types of plants not only for the chemical benefits they offer but also because they embody a tremendous determination to survive. She says, "...those vulgar plants that grow everywhere, challenging us, that espouse true vitality and passion for life." That is why I love Comfrey, a weed that has a passion for life and imparts that passion to us, making us stronger and more whole.
WILDFOLK: As with all art parts of us find their way into everything we create, where do you see that is true in Urb?
LEYNA: Art, ah yes. I usually refer to URB APOTHECARY as an artisan apothecary. I'm making creations, art, with herbs and unadulterated butters, oils, waxes, etc. I'm free to use my creativity when making recipes and new products, keeping it fresh and exciting for me and for those who buy them.
Also, packaging is a wonderful and challenging art wrestling match. "I love this look! will it fit on a label and be eye-catching? No? Next try." My labels have morphed so many times, its like watching a newborn grow into a toddler...they get much cuter or in terms of labels, more attractive.
WILDFOLK What do you hope to inspire in others with Urb products?
LEYNA: I hope that each URB product inspires a love and curiosity about the powers of herbs and plants. I want to make it known that its possible to be chemical free, as well! Each URB product is made with good vibes and in an environment of love. I want people to feel my love and the love Mother Nature put forth to create these specially crafted gifts.
WILDFOLK: Where can we find your products?
LEYNA: Right now my Etsy shop is my mainstay (don't get sucked in the etsy vortex looking for my shop!) but I am in several retail locations as well. Stripe in downtown Santa Cruz, Creme Caramel LA in Sherman Oaks, and Moon and Arrow in Philadelphia - and always looking for more!! (wink wink)