Beauty rituals are so important to me. I love luxuriating in a face mask at the end of a long day and massaging soothing oils into my skin in the morning. These opportunities to take care of my self are a reminder that my wellbeing matters and that my beauty—the way I feel when I'm at peace in my body—is a gift that I give to others. I am a better educator, writer, and advocate when I am nourished. And for me, the everyday ritual of taking care of my skin is just that.

I've written before about navigating aesthetics and cultivating a sustainable self-care routine. When we nourish our body—through the food we eat, the spaces we inhabit, and the rituals we cultivate—we are growing our capacity to nourish others. So all of this is to say that if you, like me, love to lavish your skin, it doesn't have to be a superficial endeavor. With the right intention, it really is a ripe opportunity to give your sweet self some extra love.

That said, the mainstream skincare industry is toxic. From plastic packaging that pollutes our precious waterways to products clogged with chemicals, it can be difficult to find low-carbon options for feeding your skin. I'm particularly frustrated by the bevy of products that invent problems precisely to sell their solutions. You really don't need much to heal your skin (hell, everything I do is already extra) so keep it to a couple of self-care tools that bring you joy.

My own ritual comprises a facial oil for the morning, a mud mask for after sweaty treks, and a homemade calendula moisturizer for keeping my skin sane during these dry winter months. Although I love to make my own, I also relish in a select few plant-based products from rad makers whose sourcing and packaging I can get behind.

Enter Apoterra. I first discovered Apoterra when I lived in San Diego and was searching for a product that wasn't entirely packaged in plastic (not so easy). Their luscious hibiscus mud mask—bottled in a reusable amber jar— has been a healing staple of mine for the last year. But what particularly got me hooked was the Apoterra batch system that lets you look up the country of origin and certification for every one of their products. Inspired by Apoterra's commitment to transparency, environmental sustainability, and accountability, I connected with Founder Dominique Caron recently to talk about interweaving herbalism into her work and developing deeper relationships with her suppliers. My takeaway? That every company—big and small—needs to look at the whole cycle. 

KATE WEINER: What inspired you to create Apoterra? 

DOMINIQUE CARON: For a long time, I struggled to find products that worked for my skin. [I created Apoterra] when I was really starting to get into environmentalism and be health conscious. Curiosity about what was in my food transferred to a curiosity about what was in my skincare products. [I realized] that my standards of environmentalism and safety weren't being met. And there really wasn't anything out there that did meet those standards that wasn't extremely expensive. 

I especially got curious about foraging and herbal medicine. I started studying herbal medicine and [eventually] became a certified herbal therapist. I was working in film at the time and thought maybe I can make a business out of this. Working in film was my dream, but the hours were incredibly long, I didn't get to pick what kind of projects I worked on, and I wanted to find something that not only gave me more control over my life but also helped give back by healing the environment and helping people. 

KW: What does sustainability look like in the context of your company?

DC: To me [sustainability] is about the whole cycle. We use natural ingredients rather than petroleum-based ingredients. We care about packaging and whether or not our ingredients are being sustainability sourced. There are many organic ingredients out there that are being cultivated in a way that's not sustainable, either because the plant won't be available in ten or twenty years [because of over harvesting] or because it's destroying a habitat and harming wildlife, such as palm oil in Malaysia.

It's also important to understand that [sustainability] isn't black and white. How ingredients are grown and where they are grown—that matters. How you package your products, and how that packaging is being disposed of—that matters, too. You have to pay attention to the whole cycle. 

It's also important to understand that sustainability isn't black and white. How ingredients are grown and where they are grown—that matters. How you package your products, and how that packaging is being disposed of—that matters, too. You have to pay attention to the whole cycle. 

It's very difficult to be totally green. We package in glass because it's easier to recycle glass and it doesn't harm the ocean the way plastic does [glass is inert]. And although there are some things I wish we could make out of a biodegradable material, that's not available to us yet [given the scale of our company]. Those are products that we hope to get custom made in the future, however. 

KW: How do your herbalist studies shape your work?

DC:  I love working with raw herbs! From my herbalism teaching, I learned to create my own infusions and extracts as well as to understand the best substrate for certain plants. There are a lot of poor quality extracts on the market that are put in products but don't actually have any effect. Through my teachings I learned to not only identify a good quality extract, but also how to make them.

KW: How do you hope to grow Apoterra?

DC: As we grow, I would love to definitely change our packaging to minimize our environmental footprint. I would love to foster more direct relationships with the farmers who grow our ingredients and be able to tell their stories. We have our batch number system which tells you where the ingredients were from and when they were harvested. Right now, you can learn where your coconut oil came from Brazil but we don't yet have an image of the farm so I'd love to be able to tell more of that story.





I learned about Arts Boheme thanks to Dominique Drakeford of MelaninASS (you can read our interview with this trailblazing sustainable stylist here). And although Arts Boheme gorgeous pieces are stunning studies in color and craft, what I especially love about this budding brand is artist Cheryl Domenichelli's vibrant spirit and passion for giving back. A former high school arts and science teacher and current educator at UC Berkeley, Cheryl wants her company to support social justice and equity. I was fortunate enough to connect with Cheryl by phone last week. Tune in as we talk ethical craftsmanship, education, and the creative process. 

KW: What inspired your love for jewelry design? 

CD: As a little girl, I fell in love with gems and minerals for the sake of their inherent beauty. When I was in my thirties, I even discovered that I had a library book I had checked out at that age that I had never returned! 

Jewelry serves to show off the beauty of gems and minerals. In all of my work as an artist, it's about letting the design emerge from the components. It truly comes from the heart.

KW: What is your creative process like? 

CD: Color speaks to my soul and so part of my process really begins with [discovering] what beads complement each other. Especially in the morning, when my brain is clear, I will see a particular piece and just know what piece should go with it. I had this London blue sapphire for two years and it was just waiting, as it were, and one day I was in my studio and found its complement. My art really keys in on color and my passion for African jewelry. When people create African jewelry, it's always very tribal. But there's more to the culture than that. My passions are rooted in cultural identities and colors and so that's how my design process works. 

KW: What kind of transfer of energy do you hope your jewelry will bring to your customers?  

CD: I'm very aware of the traditional energies that people talk about in certain stones. [But] in my design work, I don't go to that space around energy. I go to a space that's aware of empowerment. When I speak to empowerment, I am talking about the way people feel about themselves shapes how they interact and walk through the world. 

My jewelry pieces are designed to empower people so that they can put out what it is that they want to put out into the world. When I originally started our company, our tagline was "Who do you want to be today?" I've changed the tagline since then but the essence is still the same: when you put on a piece of jewelry, it should speak to who you are and the kind of energy you want to put out. It should empower that spirit within you. 

KW: Why is ecologically sustainable and socially conscious craftsmanship particularly important to you?

CD: I'm 60 and I grew up in an era of environmental consciousness and social justice. I have the good fortune to have a science and arts background. As part of my journey, I taught science and art in high school. I love earth sciences! I love learning about and sharing the things that we get as gifts. Historically [however] we have abused those gifts. We have over harvested the land and torn it up. We cut down trees without thinking about regrowth rates. We're not thinking about what it means to put a pipeline through someone's drinking water. People just take what they want and don't care about how it affects other people and the environment. But there needs to be responsibility around what we need to sustain our society.

As a company, we build relationships [on the ground] so that we know, because we've been there, that this group of people is being served well. I'm working right now with a company in Ghana. We have bead from them that's granite. It wasn't made for the purpose of a bead, but when it no longer serves its purpose as a tumbling stone, they sell it as a bead. I think that kind of thing is absolutely fabulous! To takes and repurpose pieces...

KW: How have your travels shaped your work?

CD: I still do part-time work with UC Berkeley where I'm in charge of their program for visiting school leaders—we work for social justice and equity—so I just came back from a meeting in China with the education ministry. When I go to places, I always look for components for jewelry and so I brought back handcrafted jade and wood beads from there. 

I've been to Venice to get Venetian glass. Most of the glass is handblown but there are artists in Venice making things that we don't typically associate with Venetian glass. I found amazing beads that have been handmade with silver and gold lines.

I went to the Czech Republic where there are many glass and crystal makers. Those communities are bead makers and pig farmers and so when you visit the artists, many of them live on farms. That was absolutely amazing!

When I was in Cuba this summer, I was not only there on a people-to-people excursion but also to pick up things from street vendors and artist colonies that were representative of the community and culture. [Wherever I go] I'm not buying my products in mass quantity. I'm hand selecting for the quality, the source, and the uniqueness.

My sister has done work in Kenya with a small village to bring water to their community. She knows an artist who does glass blowing and she brought some of the beads back home. I'm trying to be in community and network with people I trust and know I share values.

KW: How do you envision Arts Boheme growing in the coming years? 

CD: I'm not particularly motivated by money. I never have been. I have this philosophy that if you are pursuing what's important to you, money will show up, because you will do excellent work, you'll be doing some good in the world, and the world will support that.

It's important to me that this venture supports my larger goal of creating social justice and equity. At the end of this year, we will make a contribution to an organization doing boots-on-the-ground work in their community. Right now, I'm working with a grassroots group that are guardians for education for predominantly African-American young men in high school and middle school. Their work is difficult and they are up again the sometimes immovable system of public education, but they continue to help kids tremendously. 

There are other organizations I've learned about that don't get a lot of serious funding but are a direct connect to individuals. In Kenya, my sister formed a non-profit that helped the village of Machakos build a reservoir and then a medical clinic. She was working with the government to create self-sustainable systems in Kenyan communities and it's those boots-on-the-ground people that I want this company to be known for supporting.

When you buy a piece of my jewelry, you're helping somebody. As my company develops, I want to keep in conversation with matters of social justice and equity. 





A ceramic artist and advocate for the environment, Gopi Shah's ceramics are a vibrant study in color and craft. After stumbling on Gopi's Instagram feed, I swiftly fell for her carved hanging planters and "open hands." I love that Gopi uses her platform to not only support organizations such as the National Resources Defense Council and Planned Parenthood but also to invite us into deeper, delicious engagement with our surroundings. Through playful handmade wares, Gopi inspires us to reimagine our everyday. (That, and I break into a smile every time I catch sight of her "tittie tumblers" painted with a simple sketch of bare breasts—there's something so divine to me about a beautiful work of art that doesn't take itself too seriously!) 

I recently connected with Gopi to talk about cultivating creative community, building a business, and finding her flow. I hope you'll discover through Gopi's story the same fiery motivation I did to embrace my art with passion and with playfulness. Because life is short and sweet and ours to infuse with joy. 

KW: Your work is infused with a playful spirit and attention to craft. How do the ceramics you make reflect who you are?

GS: My pottery is obviously influenced by my surroundings. If you take a look at my home furnishings, there is a lot of folk art and decor from my travels or from friends who are artists. I am not much of a minimalist type that has neutrals everywhere, and that's reflected in my ceramic line— the tipis have a ton of color, the planters have texture and carvings, and the dolls have their own personalities. I bounce around a lot between ideas, techniques, and styles and have been told my ceramic line is not cohesive; however, I don't think that's a negative. I like exploring and learning, and each piece that I create has something new I learned and wanted to express in it. 

KW: You've lived everywhere from Austin to the Bay Area to Long Beach! How does place shape your work?

GS: Yes! I have moved a lot and wouldn't suggest moving a ceramic studio as many times as I have. Each place has shaped me as a person, which then influences my work. Austin was a great place to start my business—it was a supportive environment, easy to network with local shops and other artists, and was affordable. I learned a lot from my mentor there and was able to learn to do pottery in a non-academic setting. San Francisco helped grow my business—I got to work with some amazing shops in the Bay Area that really bolstered my name and my work professionally. And now I'm excited to be in Long Beach which feels as small and community-driven as Austin, but is also connected to an incredible art and small business scene. In each city, my line has grown and developed and I have learned more as a business person—which items sell better than others, what products may do well, how to expand professionally, etc. 

Pottery has taught me a lot about slowing down and enjoying life, being patient, and reflection. 

KW: What experiences brought you to your work as a ceramic artist?

GS: I learned pottery in high school under an incredibly kind and knowledgeable teacher. In college, I was able to take classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and then continued that education at Santa Monica College while working full time. Pottery has taught me a lot about slowing down and enjoying life, being patient, and reflection. It has also afforded me an opportunity to connect in a different way with my community and fellow women-owned businesses. 

KW: What kind of energy do you want your functional art to bring to its new owner?

GS: Ceramics is a meditative process—you end up falling into a rhythm while creating a piece and forget about everything around you, including time. I hope that this calming energy is what is transferred when someone uses one of my pieces and feels the ridges from my fingers that created each piece. 

I hope that this calming energy is what is transferred when someone uses one of my pieces and feels the ridges from my fingers that created each piece. 

KW: Can you share with us the creative process behind your hanging planters?

GS: Something I love about the hanging planters is they are constantly involving and no two are alike. I throw each on the wheel, paint the outside with a liquid white clay, and hand carve the designs onto each. The planters are also a great way for me to experiment with another medium— leather and rivets. 

I love the orange, black, and white fine line details of Acoma pottery. Though I am inept at this kind of pottery, I appreciate the geometry and accuracy of this work. The hanging planters are my way of expressing the colors and geometry found in this type of pottery. I started with experimentation in design but have found somewhat of an equation to go by for each planter—a top thin band, a middle thick ban, and some bottom rings that generally are sun-shaped. Carving these planters takes a lot of time and a steady hand, but I love that they are unique.

KW: At Loam, our work is centered on sharing strategies for "embodying hope." This means finding ways to bring our vision for a better world into practice through our everyday actions. What do you do to cultivate hope in your heart, home, and community?
GS: A better world to me would be one where citizens are safe, have access to basic rights including dignity, housing, food and water, and healthcare, and where there is a sense of pride for their community. I have been on the giving and receiving ends of hope and have appreciated every moment of building my own community through pottery. Moving around the US and getting to meet various types of people has broadened my sense of self, perspective and thankfulness for others. 

Community is very important to me, and I love getting to know my neighbors and small business owners in my community. I used to work at non-profits, and it's been tough not being on the front lines anymore. However, through collaborations, working with other small business owners, and donating pieces to causes I care about, I have found ways to work with my community and try to make it a better place for everyone. 




I first learned about Dominique Drakeford through my friend Liv Lapierre of Zero Waste Habesha whose Representation Matters initiative illuminates women of color making waves in the sustainability sphere. As an advocate, sustainability stylist, and the founder of Melanin & Sustainable Style (MelaninASS)—a platform that celebrates communities of color in eco ethical style and beauty—Dominique is a passionate advocate for intersectional activism. I'm inspired by Dominique's intersectional and incisive embrace and exploration of sustainability. She doesn't shy away from harsh realities nor does she apologize for taking joy in beauty. The spaces she creates are truly energized, alive, and engaged

In this powerful interview, the trailblazing Dominique shares a sliver of her story. Tune in for her thoughts on tokenism, challenging mainstream narratives, and supporting sustainable style. 


KW: As an environmental educator, stylist, and community advocate, you work in many different spheres to inspire ecological, cultural, and social change. What experiences shaped your multifaceted work as an activist?

DD: My experiences here in Brooklyn as well as my experiences growing up in Oakland have unequivocally shaped my perception of being a women of color and how that relates to inclusivity in sustainability, social change and activism. 

My experiences in Oakland were very much rooted in youth engagement and development. From being a soccer coach, swim coach, backpacking ambassador for underprivileged youth and a Pathway to College mentor for young black and Latino kids in the Bay Area—seeing kids as the progressive future has created a special place in my heart for needing to uplift and bring out the best in communities of color. Although I grew up more privileged than the average black girl, I connected with the youth [that I was working with]...Everyday I saw the struggle but paid most attention to their beauty and the potential they had to excel.

I received a BA in Environmental Management and immediately went to Grad School at NYU for Sustainable Entrepreneurship + Fashion. Once I moved to NY, I got more heavily into environmental justice through fashion. Outside of going to a Catholic high school, it was my first time really being immersed in white spaces. My experiences in NY slapped me in the face with the harsh realities of tokenism, lack of representation, white privilege, racism, singular notions of feminism—it was a clear reflection of the real world.

Some of these experiences included:
•    Getting told that my resume and cover letter sounded like an “angry black woman” to my face during an interview
•    Being the only black face in audiences and not seeing representation on stage for years in the sustainability space (with occasional sprinkles here and there)
•    Not seeing black magazines cover sustainability
•    Witnessing every single type of cultural appropriation imaginable: in person, on social media, and on media platforms
•    Micro aggressions all throughout grad school (and virtually everywhere) 
•    Getting asked to work on a project so that the platform can have “diversity”
•    Trying to touch my hair with and without permission

And that was just the start...

After spending a Summer in Ghana, Africa, I started piecing so many things together regarding the struggles of being black in America and where we needed to be sustainability-wise to thrive. We need a spiritual, emotional, and physical awakening. 

So my activism to empower communities of color in sustainability spaces has been largely shaped by my personal experiences. As I began to travel and speak to designers, artists, foodies, health gurus, and yogis, [I started to see] that everyone was singing the same tune, just not at all in harmony. 


The images that I create and promote as a tastemaker and content provider have power. I can affect racial disparities for the greater good of humans globally and build community.


I realized that I needed to create a platform that spoke not only to the conscious community but to communities who were unaware to really create a progressive movement.  And then it was easy to tap back to my youth engagement as a motivation for the work I’m doing as [youth] need to see people like me and know that there are folks fighting for their wellbeing in different capacities and that models of all shades exist. There are so many limiting narratives that need to be refreshed and I’m elated to do it! The images that I create and promote as a tastemaker and content provider have power. I can affect racial disparities for the greater good of humans globally and build community.

KW: Your blog, Melanin and Sustainable Style, is a rich exploration of people of color working in the realm of sustainable fashion, beauty, and living. How do you curate the content for this space?

DD: My content is derived from connections made through my lived experiences, researching brands within my realm of focus, getting recommendations, and staying in tune with what’s happening in pop culture. Although right now my platform is heavily interview based, I am looking to include more articles based on global news brining light to issues and accomplishments that aren’t highlighted in mainstream media.

KW: In so many ways, your work is about changing mainstream narratives on what sustainability looks like in practice. How can each one of us contribute to a fresh cultural narrative that welcomes, celebrates, and shares diverse stories?

DD: I’m going to give you the shortest version possible to tackle this question as there are many layers as I see it. 

In my first iteration of my blog tagline I had the following:
WAKE UP people of color - Sustainability is foundational to our Core Values, and it is inherent to our culture. 

WAKE UP Mainstream White America - High fashion “borrows” most of its inspiration from 1) nature 2) urban street culture and 3) traditional cultures of color. 

Although I no longer have this exact verbiage currently on my blog, I stand by this wholeheartedly.  


We commodify various illusions of America’s definition of success instead of getting back to our roots of holistic living and connectedness to self, family and the natural world.


Let me explain: Experiences in your life, such as the ones that I shared earlier, tell you to WAKE THE FUCK UP and figure out a new game plan that will help provide a platform that compliments your passion and speaks to your truth. So when I say, WAKE UP PEOPLE OF COLOR, [what I mean is that] most people of color realize that systems were put in place for the failure of their cultural digest and to stifle progression. Despite being cognizant of these manifestations that lead to the struggle, many POC fall victim to it by not understanding or knowing how to self heal, uplift community and live sustainably as a means to creating a stronger people. There are countless challenges preventing us from getting past the hurt and pain. Additionally, we commodify various illusions of America’s definition of success instead of getting back to our roots of holistic living and connectedness to self, family and the natural world. So for people of color, independently and collectively, we have to work on internal modifications to relearn how to celebrate ourselves, respect ourselves and uplift one another so that we can put more positivity into the atmosphere and share our AMAZING diverse stories. We have to mitigate things like drug abuse, crime, heart disease and distasteful competition despite the fact that it’s a direct result of racism in America. We have to wake up!

And when I say, WAKE UP WHITE AMERICA [what I mean is that] those that are white and actually want to change in America have a LOT to learn. Those outside of the diaspora need to do their research. Understand first what systematic racism is and how America, corporations, your family members and even you have contributed to it (remember that you play a very political role when you’re silent). Understand and I mean really understand the structures of oppression and race relations in America. Everything as extreme as Nazi hate groups to micro aggressions in the corporate work place. You have to understand that white supremacy doesn’t just look like the people in Charlottesville…it can very well look like the average white man or woman walking down the street.

This will be an untapped tunnel of exploration for MOST non-people of color in America. [It's important] that in tandem with this research of better understanding racism and privilege [that you also seek to] understand the significant and even monumental contributions that people of color play in creating America that were intentionally exempt from your grade school texts books. Take a reputable black history class, watch documentaries, read autobiographies and race related books, and learn about inventors of color, abolitionists outside of Malcolm and Martin, pioneers in film/fashion/science/television that never got credit—all of the greats that never received creative or economic payment or notoriety. And don’t be fooled by the white savior mentality or the brands that have token women of color and definitely not those that feel the need to fetishize black bodies. 


Have a voice for black women, Muslim women. Explain why ”All Lives Matter” is offensive and verbalize your support for Black Lives Matter—and don’t just talk about it, be about it. 

Then share this information with others who continue to devalue and disrespect people of color. Those especially who call themselves feminists without giving mention to intersectionality. Have a voice for black women, Muslim women. Explain why ”All Lives Matter” is offensive and verbalize your support for Black Lives Matter—and don’t just talk about it, be about it. 


Know and understand that you can’t really be part of the sustainability movement unless you’re fighting for the civil rights for all women, unless you’re pushing for inclusivity, unless you’re dismantling environmental racism, unless you’re working to bring representation and intersectionality to sustainable movements. 

Know and understand that you can’t really be part of the sustainability movement unless you’re fighting for the civil rights for all women, unless you’re pushing for inclusivity, unless you’re dismantling environmental racism, unless you’re working to bring representation and intersectionality to sustainable movements. 

I know very few white Americans who can grasp these concepts and have a genuine dialog with me about them. A genuine fresh cultural narrative can take place once authentic context is put into place. Because then, you will really appreciate our culture and the pride we have. You’ll better understand our contributions and the strength it took to persevere despite all racist agendas— it’s a cultural resilience. Sustainability is very much intertwined with civil rights, and once this notion is understood, a greater appreciation for the beauty of our melanin will arise. Then collectively we can continue to share perspective and fight injustice. Takes rebuilding! 



In this curated list, Dominique shares a few of the people and projects who are energizing the intersectional environment movement. 

@nikishabrunson - An all around dope public figure with amazing positive energy

@iam_samata - a person/ IG feed that constantly inspires me and is very supportive of my work

Lauren Ash  (@hellolaurenash) creates holistic and wellness spaces for WOC

CRW Magazine - focused on the beauty of WOC hair

Aditi (@aditimaer) - Photographer & Fashion Activism Blogger

Priscilla Amado - creating urban garden/farm in Brooklyn so that the community can be self sustaining

Voz- A clothing brand philosophy I greatly admire

Cindy Luquin (@greenvanillabean) - Latina representation for green beauty & living

@zerowastehabesha Representation Matters Series




Brittany Ducham of Spellbound Herbals is a passionate community herbalist whose work powerfully interweaves the personal and political. Her potions, teas, and homemade zines are antidotes to our mainstream culture of disconnection and colonization. Herewith, the rad Brittany shares with Loam what experiences fuel her work as an herbalist, the contradictions she's encountering as she seeks to nourish her passion project, and her recipe for embodying hope in her everyday. Her interview has been deeply inspiring to me (choosing just a couple of pull quotes wasn't easy when I wanted to italicize everything!) and I know you'll find in her sage words the wisdom to deepen your own connection to self & soil. Dig in, loamy loves!

What drew you to work as a herbalist?
I grew up in punk/diy communities in Florida, and in my early twenties became introduced to anarchist values. A rejection of hateful institutions, reverence for the earth as a living being, a need for critical thought and questioning, a desire for self-reliance, interconnectedness, accessibility, agency, a reclamation of our food + healing systems, decolonization, inclusiveness, direct action, intersectional feminism, reciprocity—all of these concepts shaped who I am and continue to inform my work. I am motivated by gaining tools to build a better world. Everyday I continue to learn and it is an honor to count the plants as teachers. I am drawn to the work of an herbalist because it ignites hope inside me. Herbalism remedies so much of what I find problematic in our time. My practice with herbs has become a point of intersection for all my passions. 

Plants are the real teachers. They encourage us to slow down, to be flexible, to blossom, to root, to grow at our own pace, to thrive when the odds are against us.

All my life I have wanted to be of service to those I hold dear. I used to think that meant giving people advice whenever they opened up. I was such a problem solver (still am, but now I channel that into design work and medicine formulation) but I’ve learned over time that people want to be heard and seen, not fixed. I love talking to people about their joys and struggles. I love creating space for people to share, I love facilitating conversations. I work to encourage people to embrace who they are, to heal, to have boundaries and ask for what they need and fight for a more vibrant world for all of us. I find that my work with plants, my work as an herbalist, often facilities these conversations, or at least provides the tools needed to navigate the complexities we face. Plants are the real teachers. They encourage us to slow down, to be flexible, to blossom, to root, to grow at our own pace, to thrive when the odds are against us. I’m drawn to this wisdom, and wish to share it. 

What experiences feed your soul and fuel your herbal practice?
Connection. Connection with plants + the land through wandering, harvesting + medicine making, with the moon and stars, with people, with self-defined beauty, with myself through solitude, movement, reflection and tarot. Cooking meals with friends, a ritual bath, engaging in deep conversations, the resiliency of the human heart, sitting in a meadow of pedicularis, a garden grown by a loved one, laughing at the absurdity of existence, listening to a podcast, hills of sagebrush at sunrise, writing to express a feeling. Lately, all these acts feed + fuel me. 
One of my favorite movies is Before Sunrise and I love the scene where Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are talking and her character says something like, “if there’s any kind of god, it doesn’t exist somewhere out there or inside us, it exists in the little space in between two people trying to connect. If there’s any type of magic in this world, it’s in the attempt to understand someone sharing something.” I’ve always loved that. I don’t spend much time contemplating the divine, or god, but I do think an awful lot about connection, belonging and everyday magic. I feel so strongly that connection feeds us, it is a deep yearning and motivator in us all. There is so much overwhelm and isolation, and I think to connect to yourself, to your surroundings, to story is a curative. I try to pay attention to what makes me feel connected, less overwhelmed and less alone. These experiences, rituals, little spaces of in between, are the magic that feed me. 

How do you want to nurture Spellbound Herbals in the coming year?
Spellbound, like my life, is in flux while I uproot, pulled to new landscapes by plant teachings and dear friends. I left Denver in March and have been surrendering to uncertainty since. In this time of in-between, I nurture Spellbound by staying open to what can be. I am dreaming up new potions and not allowing my fears or comparisons to create the dominate narrative for how I show up in the world. I’m doing work to clarify my vision and listening without judgment to what surfaces. I nurture this project by making medicines with the intention to know the plants, to know the land. I play and experiment. I nurture this project with curiosity, with subversive optimism, with a determination to decolonize, and an understanding that I’m going to be vulnerable, make mistakes and keep showing up. 

I nurture [Spellbound] with curiosity, with subversive optimism, with a determination to decolonize, and an understanding that I’m going to be vulnerable, make mistakes and keep showing up. 

I tend to not worry much about making a profit with Spellbound, as I have always relied on another source of income. Very recently, I began shifting how I relate to money, trying to separate it from capitalism, or at least come to terms with it, and am hoping to make more of a living from this passion project / side hustle. I struggle with profiting off of herbs, so healing how I think about money, and moving forward with integrity, is some seriously important work that I am nurturing right now. 

Spellbound has always been a very small, intimate project that is informed by the plants around me, the topics that I want to write about + share and the need that I experience in my communities. But it’s also been informed by my complicated feelings surrounding money, ownership, consumerism, business and success. Mainly, that if I succeed and make a living, a profit off of this work, that I am part of the problem or benefiting from a system I do not agree with. It’s interesting to dissect. I think a lot of folks struggle with these inner dilemmas. How do you thrive in a system you wish to destroy? 

In the coming year, I know I need to nurture a sustainable approach for this work. I believe in my skills, my time and the value of what I do. I want to reach more people. I see nurturing Spellbound Herbals as a vital activity and a life-long conversation between myself, plants and people.  

How do you embody hope in your everyday life?
I recently reread Hope In The Dark by Rebecca Solnit and I appreciate how she describes hope, “Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” 
“It is an axe you break down doors with”— this line creates a visceral giddiness in me. All the Aries in my chart does a dance. Aries, as a fire sign, are about action and in particular - we’re the ram after all - have this determination to break down barriers. We head butt our way through adversity. We’re this youthful sign, the first in the zodiac, and we carry this fresh optimism, this innovation and courage to charge ahead. We want change, and we’re willing to act. In this way, I embody hope by sparking conversation that are difficult to have, by questioning our indoctrination. By stepping into myself and being seen as emotional and sensitive, by being tender, intuitive and vulnerable. 

I nurture my relationships as best I can, knowing that the future I want to build would be nothing without those I care for.

In June I took an abortion doula course through Colorado Doula Project. I want to continue to take a stand for reproductive justice and be their for folks when they may not have much support or access. I know this work will take shape when I move to Georgia, and I imagine that the need for this work will become more important in years to come. I try to support small farms when I buy herbs, I wildcraft ethically and with reverence for the plant and ecosystem it calls home. I nurture my relationships as best I can, knowing that the future I want to build would be nothing without those I care for. I feed myself nourishing foods, and try to be gentle with myself during times of stress when all I want to eat is chocolate. I have autoimmunity so to feed myself well and stay on top of my herbal practice is giving myself to the future. 




Made by hand in her Cincinnati studio, Lindsey Zinno's multifunctional fiber art is a minimalist study in infusing everyday objects—market totes, baskets, trivets, and bowls—with a sense of peace and purpose. I first was drawn to The Northern Market for its succulent simplicity. Her woven work reminded me of woodcut prints and tree rings. So I was especially excited to learn that her products—many made from a single piece of rope—are locally sourced, naturally dyed, and crafted from scrap materials. It's always so inspiring to me to meet with makers who are taking stuff that's already in circulation and transforming it into functional works of art.

I recently connected with Lindsey to talk shop. Tune in for an energizing conversation on sustainable consumption and heart-filled craft (and check out her upcoming episode for PBS on contemporary sewing and rope craft!)

What inspired you to create The Northern Market? How do you integrate sustainable practices into your work?
I have always been driven toward making, and I always knew that I wanted a career that is creative, different, and ever-changing. I began The Northern Market when I was in high school. After gifting many of my baskets [to friends and family] I realized that it was time to start gearing my work toward building a business. I study Environmental Sciences at the University of Cincinnati and I use my studies [to shape] my business everyday. The rope that I use is actually sourced from my state of Ohio (purchasing locally is very important to me). The cotton rope is spun using leftover fiber from cotton fabric production and I have my labels made from organic cotton in Massachusetts. Nothing ever goes to waste in my studio. I reuse, recycle, and repurpose everything that I can. I also enjoy working with natural dyes such as Hibiscus or Turmeric. 

Many of the gorgeous goods from The Northern Market are made to order and some are crafted with natural dyes. What's your creative process like when you're dreaming up a piece?
You will always find my sketchbook, notepad, and graphite pencils in my bag. I find inspiration everywhere. I find many of my ideas just being at home where I like to wonder: What's a new purpose for a vessel? How can I make it different? I'm also very centered around continuity, as almost all of my pieces are made with one continuous piece of rope. There are instances where I cut the rope to add a new dyed rope color, but everything is made in a continuous form. That is something that requires a lot more creativity, trying to dream up a design, but also making it continuous. I don’t make or design for a certain target market, but rather, for myself, and what I would like to see in my line. 

How do you envision growing The Northern Market in the coming year? 
Because I am about to enter my final year of school, I will be transitioning into what my vision for The Northern Market will be when I graduate. I believe that I will open a store one day, soon. I have so many ideas, so many designs that are not just centered around rope, but around recycled fibers too. I will be expanding my circle a bit, looking for more help around my studio, and expanding my studio space as well. 

At Loam, we celebrate the importance of embodying hope. This means grounding our dream for a better world in concrete actions. How do you embody hope in your every day?
I am very conscious about buying sustainably. I believe that a sustainable purchase is not just one that is created with eco-friendly materials, but also something that will last. The Northern Market creates sustainable and functional art with great longevity. My focus is to provide hope to consumers so they can trust handmade work and know that they do not need to buy mass-produced, environmentally unfriendly pieces. Every purchase, every dollar spent in an unsustainable way is [giving] more support to [environmentally unsound] companies and therefore more support to a tragic future. In my everyday, I am quite conscious of my spending decisions so I support local, handmade businesses. 




It's very difficult to make a living as an artist but if we can change paradigms around that and encourage more people to pursue art in a definitive way, I think we are going to come out with a far more beautiful and far more caring society.


I first discovered Ghost Mountain Co. during my Artist-In-Residence at the magical Woodland Keep. Surveying Demetria's kitchen shelves, I stumbled across a charcoal grey bowl mapped by Arcana symbols. The beautiful design spoke to something deep in me. It was a reminder to take care of the tools I use to nourish myself and to see the magic in the mundane.

Inspired by Ghost Mountain's functional ceramics that evoke a deep appreciation for the wilderness, I reached out to artist Simone Littledale to talk nature, art, and adventuring. Tune in for an energizing conversation that I hope will give you permission to fearlessly make with the same kind of curiosity and creativity that Simone brings to her craft. 

KATE WEINER: What inspired you to pursue ceramics?

SIMONE LITTLEDALE: I've done ceramics since I was a kid at the local community center. I always liked it but never pursued it extensively. I graduated university, went traveling, came back home, and couldn't find work. To occupy my time and keep myself from getting too bummed out, I started making pottery—my Mom teaches the little kid classes—and it just exploded from there. I started going every day.

KW: What's your creative process like?

SL: I'm a big nerd and am interested in many different things. I'll catch wind of something and think oh that's fascinating and want to read everything I can about it. Most of the collections [for Ghost Mountain] stem from that curiosity. Arcana came from a longstanding interest in witchcraft, alchemy, and the history surrounding the occult, especially the scientific component. Alchemy [for example] is a predecessor to the study of chemistry. Before anybody really knew what it was about in terms of molecular exchange, people used symbols as a shorthand.

I got really obsessed for a bit with knowing where all the plants in B.C. came from and understanding their scientific names. I'd go to the library and sit and draw botanical illustrations—and then I'd adapt those drawings to simpler forms that can be easily carved and painted onto pottery.

In terms of trial and error, I like to explore painting with cobalt carbonate—which has been used on pottery for many centuries—and carving [shapes into the ceramics] using a method called sgraffito.

KW: What experiences shape your work?

SL: I live in a pretty stunning environment on the West Coast of British Columbia. I'm as far West as you can go in Canada so I'm close to old growth forests, unbelievable cliffs, and open oceans—but it's also a semi-Mediterranean climate that gives life to incredible biodiversity.

I'm also inspired by the Amazon Rainforest. I've gone down twice to work with indigenous communities on art and cultural preservation. I'm hoping to go down again in the next year or so and run another project. That's a place where the understanding of things that are not explainable is far different from ours. Things will just happen and people will consider it routine even though as an outsider it's unbelievable. Going there you really have to suspend your disbelief and not take everything from our urban standpoint. That's why I'm so inspired by the different perspectives of my friends who live there—their way of going about life, of perceiving time. 

KW: What brought you to the Amazon?

SL: Our good family friend Diego Samper of Fundación Calanoa has been going to the Amazon for several decades. He spent eight of those years navigating through communities by canoe. He invited me down three years ago to work with his niece and teach photography classes. 

KW: At Loam, we talk a lot about the importance of living our values. How do you embody hope in your everyday life?

SL: By trying to provide as much support as I can for other artists—mentorship if they need it, guidance if they want it. I'm trying to do my small part to encourage the proliferation of art in small cities. It's very difficult to make a living as an artist but if we can change paradigms around that and encourage more people to pursue art in a definitive way, I think we are going to come out with a far more beautiful and far more caring society. Let yourself consider yourself an artist.  




I first discovered Make Wilde thru ModerNation, an online shop that celebrates upcycled clothing and sustainably made goods. A quick scroll thru Make Wilde's Instagram feed and I was entranced—not only by their commitment to using recycled metals and reclaimed gems but also by their organic jewelry that beautifully evokes the wild wonder of our natural world.

I've met many people who are quick to write off sustainable fashion as superficial. Considering that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry on the planet, however, I think that illuminating those businesses that are challenging the status quo is pretty damn important. Make Wilde is about transforming the delicious act of adornment into an exercise in environmental responsibility. It's about noticing the kind of beauty that we can build when we look to the materials we already have in circulation as a source of inspiration. And it's about sharing natural talismans that give us a place to ground our permaculture philosophies.

I connected with co-founder Chloe Byrne—who crafts each Make Wilde piece by hand in collaboration with Andrew Sapienza—to talk about reimagining "garbage" and building a sustainable business. Dig in for your daily dose of inspiration.

How do you practice permaculture in your everyday life?

We live in New York City, so it's a bit difficult to practice permaculture in full; however, through as many routes as possible, I've found ways to incorporate permaculture into our life here. As a philosophy, we are always looking for ways to work with nature as well as take into consideration all of the ways something might be used and reused. One thing that we constantly practice is to buy only what we need; this is an ongoing effort, as needs change day-to-day, but to do this, we try to plan ahead, do our research, and only buy from businesses that practice in permaculture, sustainability, and environmental responsibility. We also like to repurpose things that would otherwise end up as "garbage" or "recycling." 

Make Wilde repurposes materials and draws inspiration from the natural world to craft unique pieces. What's your creative process like and what resources do you turn to infuse your work with its wild spirit?

Our creative process is often started by the materials we use. Our first set of raw gemstones were part of a reclaiming process where I went to collect old Earth Science Education Materials. These are often grids with USA-native stones glued onto them. I take them apart and reuse the gems in our pieces! So, as to your question, we start with a material and then we design around it. 

What experiences brought you to create Make Wilde?

Many. Mostly, my interest in sustainable business practices came from food quality-related research. As I became more and more interested in supporting high-quality, small business organics, I internalized all of the things that made something the "best" it seemingly could be! I started to translate these qualities into other areas of life...I think that the farther out from your body that a product gets, the farther away the effect is in your mind. So, food is the obvious first consideration, then body products, then clothing, and finally, household items and electronics. I eventually made my way up the ladder! So when I wanted to make a jewelry company, I thought it logical that I practice my version of best practices to see how it would go!

What does it mean to be a sustainable business?

This is totally dependent on the industry in which the business fits. But in general I would say that [in a sustainable business] their raw materials and final product are produced locally, and under high quality work conditions. They have people working for them that are empathetic, hard-working, balanced, and properly compensated. Their product is based on quality, not quantity. They are honest and transparent in their offerings. They are adding positive, necessary products or services to people's lives. And most importantly, they have made every possible consideration as to how their materials and product are impacting the environment because we rely on the environment to survive.