Photo: The beginning, an early morning at the Aspen Saturday Market, featured in Aspen Sojourner Magazine
During my time in the jungle, I had a strong vision about wanting to share the stories of plants. Having spent the previous 15 years working with clay, this idea first took shape through a series of ceramic vessels called the Leaf People, which focused on the botanical kingdom and the earth’s organic cycles of growth. This series would later inspire my skincare brand and become the Leaf People namesake.
Throughout my travels, I had been exposed to various alternative healing modalities (using one’s hands, plants, food, etc), and I wanted to continue learning in a more formal setting. In 2002, I attended massage school at the Creststone Healing Arts Center, which included energy work, plant medicine, massage and diet. The following year, I enrolled in a program for medical herbalism at Yarmony Mountain Herbal College. I had the privilege to study under master herbalists Lynn Albers and Lillian McCracken, two brilliant forces who have dedicated their lives to the ancient teachings of medical herbalism. Under Lynn, I studied the formal science behind plants, learning their chemical properties and various healing modalities. Lynn is a highly respected specialist in Ute and Piute herbal traditions, so we also focused inidgenous plant utilization and harvesting techniques. Lillian’s teaching, on the other hand, were more rooted in plant spirit medicine. I studied with her for 15 years, and she became my lifetime mentor. Together, we regularly attended esoteric herbal conferences in the wild, sleeping under the stars and learning how to communicate with the plants in pure and intentional ways.
When I finished school, I noticed there were very few high quality botanical skin care lines on the market. Organic skin care was still quite simple. Companies were only using a handful of herbs, while there was a vast sea of medicinal plants calling to be utilized for their deeply healing and restorative properties. I began creating my own formulas, incorporating more complex blending techniques that would truly impact the skin. I had been taught how to make medicine, not skincare, so the first few years were all about developing techniques and proprietary methods to turn medicine into great skin care. I launched Leaf People in 2004, sharing a little booth at the Aspen Farmer’s Market with Jefreeze iconic Italian’s Ice (and we both continue this community tradition). At first, I started with a small line of products. As the line became more popular, our clients began requesting custom items for their specific skin needs. I’d rush home after each market to start making new extracts, pulling all-nighters and testing anything and everything on friends in order to perfect each formula. It was through this symbiotic relationship with our clients that Leaf People became more developed. Fast forward 15 years, and this symbiotic relationship has continued, as we now have six different lines and are developing new products every season. And still accepting requests!