Introducing Herban Crafts: Crafting a Better World!

Karen Lee of EcoKaren and I have partnered on a new social enterprise, Herban Crafts, that will offer a job and social skills training program to unemployed women in transitional housing in the DC and NY areas. To support our programming, Herban Crafts will sell DIY kits for various types of earth-friendly products. The kits will be manufactured, in part, by the trainees as part of their job skills training.

The first set of kits will teach people how to make their own organic bath and body products, and we will be adding additional types of kits in the future. We believe teaching people how to make their own products is empowering, and we also see it as an opportunity to teach people about the importance and joys of working with organic, fair trade, recycled and repurposed materials.

Our mission is multi-fold: to promote self-sufficiency while also supporting the health and wellbeing of people and the planet; and to help address the problem of unemployment, a contributing factor to homelessness, by offering a hands-on job and social skills training program for unemployed women living in transitional housing.
You can find more information about the company and our mission on our IndieGoGo campaign page where you can also pledge to help fund our initial production of kits. Suggested donations start at just $5.00, and there are lots of great rewards for our sponsors! And if this is something that you believe in as much as we do, please help spread the word to your friends on social media and via e-mail. And we hope you will follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest for updates!
For an idea of our overall mission and plan, you can view our presentation from the 2012 Global Health and Innovation Conference held at Yale University on April 22, 2012.
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Join Us at DC Craft Mafia’s Monster Craft Mash on 10/29!

[October 29, 2011, 12:55pm – the organizers of the Monster Craft Mash have announced that the show is being cancelled due to predicted snow in DC tomorrow. They will be organizing another Spring Fling in a couple of months, and I will be participating, so please stay tuned for more info!]

I hope you can join us at DC Craft Mafia‘s Monster Craft Mash! It will be held on Saturday, October 29th, from 11:00am – 5:00pm at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, at the corner of 15th St. and P St., NW, Washington, DC.

There is an amazing list of vendors, offering a wide array of crafty goodness from gorgeous jewelry, to beautifully designed accessories, unique home goods, exquisite paper goods, delicious bath and body products, and so much more.

For more information, visit the Monster Craft Mash Facebook page, or DC Craft Mafia’s website.

Safer Personal Care Products

Organic Peppermint Soap

Organic Peppermint Soap

Ten years ago this month, I was in the midst of a very sad and strange time. One of my friends was dying of prostate cancer, another was being treated for thyroid cancer, two were undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, and a professor of mine had recently passed away from a brief, but brave fight against a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so I have been thinking about these people have been on my mind lately.

One aspect of my work outside of Herban Lifestyle involves staying up to date on cancer prevention research, so I read a lot about topics like diet, exercise, and other ways you can reduce your risk of cancer. And one thing you can do to keep yourself healthy is to avoid potential carcinogens in your environment, particularly in your personal care and makeup products. You may be surprised at how prevalent they are.

There are many resources for finding out which ingredients are best to avoid, such as the European Union’s banned ingredients list. But one resource I have found to be very useful is Whole Foods’ quick guide to ingredients that have been found to cause a variety of health problems. Their Guide to Premium Body Care Product Ingredients is an easy-to-read list makes it simple to interpret those wordy ingredient labels. I recommend printing it out and carrying it with you when you shop for personal care products.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has as its mission “to protect the health of consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems, and replace them with safer alternatives.” Herban Lifestyle has signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ pledge “to not use chemicals that are known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, mutation or birth defects in their products.” You can find the complete list of companies that have pledged to use safe ingredients here.

Handmade Bath Products Workshop 11/1 in Bethesda

handmade bath and body products

On Saturday, November 1st, from 11:00 – 1:00, I’ll be holding a workshop at Be You Wellness Center and Spa in Bethesda, MD. In this 2-hour hands-on workshop you will learn the basics of making natural bath and body products. We will talk about how to use various ingredients, including essential oils, and how they benefit your body. We will get our hands dirty (or clean, as it were), by making a selection of guest soaps, a jar of bath scrub and a jar of facial masque for you to take home. We will also work on packaging, making these items great gifts for friends, family or yourself!

For more info, or to register, call (301) 493-4911, email info [at] beyouspa.com or visit http://www.beyouspa.com/events.html.

The cost is $40 including materials.

The Herban Lifestyle Story

Once upon a time (back in the late 1990s/early 2000s), I had a handcrafted herbal bath and body product business in New England. I sold my all-natural lotions, masques, balms and oils at my local farmers market, as well as through my (primitive by today’s standards) online store. I delighted in the process of creating new products, and I took great pleasure in learning about the aromatherapeutic properties of essential oils and the healing properties of herbs. When people came to my house, they always commented on how wonderful it smelled. I did all this while working full time, raising my two daughters and working on my doctorate in psychology. I didn’t have much spare time, but I relished the moments when I was able to work on my herbal business – it provided me with a creative outlet and much needed stress-relief.

Then one day, I took a position in NYC, which made my days very long. I soon found that I had little time for my business. So, reluctantly, I let it go.

Over the years, people have inquired about my old herbal business, and I always responded that I hoped to resurrect it some day. I never let go of my herbal habit – I loved the process, and continued to make bath and body products for myself, family and friends.

I reside in the DC area now, working as a wellness consultant and Reiki practitioner. I’m learning to balance my urban lifestyle with healthful habits – mind, body and spirit – and I share this knowledge with others through my workshops and writing. Since moving to DC, as part of this balance, I began formal herbalism studies, and it occurred to me that this would be a great time to re-start my herbal bath and body product business. So, after several months of planning and formulating, I would like to introduce you to my new love child – Herban Lifestyle™.

Welcome! And please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. And please do visit my Etsy store!

Welcome!

Three weeks ago, I launched my first Etsy store (http://herbanlifestyle.etsy.com), featuring my handcrafted herbal bath and body products. And, since I have a love of blogging (shameless promotion: please visit my wellness blog, Becoming Your StellarSelf), I thought it would be fun to create a blog dedicated to the topic of natural bath and body products, herbs and herbalism.

This blog will be a place where I will tell you about the various properties of the herbs I use, the importance of natural and organic ingredients, my new products, cool products other people make, etc. I hope you enjoy it!

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/herbanlifestyle)