maker interview: Wooden Spoon Herbs
As conscious consumers, we at Young Blood are always looking for the perfect, straight-from-the-earth product to add to our self-care routines. The first time we tried the moisturizer from Wooden Spoon Herbs, we knew we need look no further to fulfill our all-natural needs. After spending some time chatting during her visit to the shop last week we were dying to know more about Lauren Haynes, the woman behind the handcrafted goodness, so she kindly answered some questions for us. Take a peek below to learn more in the first edition of our maker interview series. And, be sure to stop by the shop to try the magic for yourself including the wildwood flower moisturizer, herbal bug spray, tinctures, and more!
We're so excited to be carrying Wooden Spoon Herbs in our shop. Tell us a bit about what you do.
Wooden Spoon Herbs exists to provide handmade herbal medicine offerings made from the abundance of the southern Appalachian region. This means I am growing and gathering herbs, making tinctures and other preparations with these herbs, and educating my community about the power of plants as medicine.
Your branding is beautiful, and we love the name. What was your inspiration behind it?
Thank you! Wooden Spoon Herbs is a name meant to evoke the warmth and love of being in a loved one’s kitchen, perhaps in the countryside, listening to the leaves rustle in the breeze and brewing up a pot of chamomile tea. Wooden spoons can also be made from scratch with a little bit of know-how and grit, and the same can be said of herbal medicine. So basically, the name was inspired by love and self-sufficiency and plant-based kitchen medicine.
What first piqued your interest in the medicinal use of plants and herbs?
As soon as I realized healing with plants was a thing, it brought together this powerful synergy of all my interests - nature, helping others, self-sufficiency, feminism. I realized what a wide array of issues could be healed with plants in physical, emotional, and spiritual realms. I was sold immediately and read everything I could get my hands on. That was probably 4 years ago, and I have been bathed in the green glow ever since.
Appalachia is an incredible region, and we love the Southern drive of your herbal goods. What ignited your passion for the plants in the Appalachian bioregion? What makes the flora of the area so special?
The plants of Appalachia are woven into my DNA. My ancestors have lived in southern Appalachians for over 5 generations…I have evolved to love these plants. They are a part of my story. And I feel like it is foolish to get caught up in exotic medicinal plants when we have such abundance around us. Why look to exotic places for our medicines and plant allies when they are under our feet at all times? These plants are our brothers and sisters, no matter where you hail from and what plants grow there.
Appalachia has incredibly special flora, and is one of the few places in the world where certain species reside. Many of these special plants have been around for thousands of years, preserved by the unique geography of the ancient Appalachian mountains - lots of coves cut into the mountain which shelter the species living in them. I’m talking about trillium, bloodroot, trout lily, dwarf iris, mountain skullcap, and so on. One really cool thing about the plants in our region is that they only grow in two places in the world, Appalachia and China. Our climates are really similar in some areas, and these plants have been used by people native to these lands for millennia. This crossover is something that fascinates me, and definitely begs more research. Basically it was all the same land at some point in time.
Tennessee is such a gorgeous state, perfect for road trips from Atlanta. What's your favorite thing about residing there, or more specifically, your city of Chattanooga?
I recently relocated to the mountains of northwest Georgia, but I was born and raised in Chattanooga. My favorite things about Chattanooga are its long growing season, its amazing natural beauty, and my favorite little used bookstore just outside town…. Top secret location!
As an independent maker, what does a typical work day look like for you?
I love to rise as the sun comes up, brew some herbal tea or decaf coffee, and wake up slowly. I try to read, but mostly catch up on my emails on the porch with my warm beverage and snuggly kitties. Then I try to sneak in some yoga and/or a walk in the woods. After that, I turn on some Vashti Bunyan or Drake, and tackle the day’s to-do list. This typically starts with filling any wholesale or online orders, followed by computer work, shipping or making products. Lately, lots of computer work. I try to balance that by getting into the sun and harvesting plants or just sunbathing for the last few hours before the evening. I definitely keep strict work hours, and quit working in time to decompress and make a nice meal.
Do you have a favorite Wooden Spoon product or combination of products?
Oh, so hard to pick a favorite! The products I use on a regular basis are the Rose Petal Green Tea every morning, the bug spray for time outdoors, and the valerian single-herb tincture at bedtime. I am most excited about the kits, which are sweet little themed packages for things like pregnancy, new mothers, women on their cycles, and people who travel a lot. They make great gifts and are great introductions to herbal medicine.
At Young Blood, we love a natural alternative. Why do you think the use of plant medicine is important in our modern society?
Plant medicine is important because it provides connection to our own healing. You can align with a plant, or group of plants, and create relationships with them as partners in that journey of healing, rather than taking a blue pill with a weird name and trusting it to work. In this way, we heal not only our bodies but our connection to environment and to our own intuition. It’s also important to remember that nourishment is key, and plants offer this freely in so many incarnations and in great quantity. It’s also important to remember that plant medicine has only been termed an “alternative” for less than one hundred years, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I do advocate an integrative approach in medicine, because there are events in all of our lives when we are immensely grateful for modern medicine, and I don’t want to downplay its importance.
If you could incorporate any plant in the world into what you do at Wooden Spoon Herbs, what would it be? Why?
Oh boy… I think I would have to say freshly-harvested rhodiola would be truly magnificent. Rhodiola is this amazing succulent and the root has incredible abilities to help reduce the ill effects of stress and increase longevity. I tried growing it but the seeds just laughed at me. It is typically grown in Russia and Alaska… frigid tundras, not hot humid rainforests like Tennessee. It would be a dream to have a garden full of calming herbs, longevity herbs, and adaptogenic herbs…. Someday.
Lastly, what do you love most about what you do as an herbalist and independent maker?
At the end of the day, I love every single thing about it. Even when I am knee-deep in answering emails or wrestling with Mailchimp newsletters, I have to take a step back and realize that it’s because I am able to work with plants for a living and share that passion and knowledge with the world. It’s incredible, and I am insanely grateful for each bit of it. But… my absolute favorite parts are working from home and getting to take breaks to go swim in the river and visit the Joe Pye Weed and ostrich ferns along the way!
Styled photos by Kati Forner, courtesy of Wooden Spoon Herbs. All other photos from @woodenspoonherbs Instagram.