Each year I write a reflection on the year to come. 2 years ago my self reflection for the year was full of depression and disappointment. Last year I was laughing in the face of disaster. This year I am optimistic, despite the pressure, to make this business work in a monetary sense within a relatively short space of time. I don't have the luxury of time anymore, for the sake of the impending bairn. It probably seems weird that I say it currently isn't supporting me personally but the realities of business running means that often any profit is skimmed off and pumped back into the company, never reaching my pockets.
Last year there was an issue of The Stylist which looked at luxuries. At that time I was wondering why my Peaceful Period course didn't have as many students as I would have liked and it got me thinking; is health and wellbeing the ultimate luxury?
Around this time last year I was in a pretty low place. I'd just decided to basically pack all my previous business ideas up because, after a year or two of doing them, they weren't working for me. I hadn't done enough research before launching them and there was no room to grow. I decided in amongst this depression to re-brand and re-launch. I looked for what had been lighting me up all this time and I found that it wasn't herbal medicine. It was women's health.
It often seems like I'm working on the front-line of the demise of herbal medicine as we once knew it. The degrees which I studied on are slowly all closing. I currently work part time at Middlesex University on their herbal medicine masters programmes, as a dispenser, which will be closing in Summer this year.
I have watched every single herbalist I ever saw working at Neal's Yard Remedies therapy rooms come and go following months of little to no patients. This month, I'll be one of them as I finish using their space. My patients prefer to talk to me using video calls. Most of them have hormone problems and I simply don't need to see them face to face. Those who do will be coming to my home.
I'm still not making the money I aspire to but I can see now that I'm back at the very beginning again and I have to give it time. I'm ok with that.
The few herbalists I know who are fully booked with patients also have herbal shops and rent out therapy rooms. I've come to realise that the way I was taught to practice as a herbalist, just doesn't suit the life I want. I'm also seeing that degrees are not how the next generation of herbalists will learn their trade.
Question is; does this spell disaster?
I don't think so. I think herbalists' need to focus on who they help not on explaining what herbal medicine is. Our skills are valuable. The trouble is, no-one but us (or people already converted) values us. I think we're actually too good to be true and people don't trust what we're saying we can do for them. The idea that you could get a diagnosis of all your problems from a singular practitioner as well as all your symptoms dealt with in one bottle just sounds totally ridiculous when you've been raised to believe the exact opposite is necessary. One drug, one practitioner per problem.
Last year I was exhausted with life. Disillusioned.
This year I see hope. Hope that the brand I'm creating has guts, soul, and a fire up its butt. I've observed that when I tell myself I can't do something, it makes it so much harder. But when I say "This struggle is fun" the experience is totally different (exercising taught me that). I'll be testing new product ideas before they launch. I'll be writing a solid business plan. I'll be writing enough content that I'm a year ahead of myself and most importantly I'll be working in more collaborations with brands than ever before. These aren't just brands, they're friends, people I've come to know and continue to inspire me.
Last year I just kept going because I had to. This year I feel fired up. I've let go of my ideas of what it is to be a herbalist. It's not a bottle of herbs after all, it's a philosophy. A philosophy that's deep in my bones, in my very being.
What's a herbalist without their herbs?
A friggin' herbalist!
I'm listening to a podcast about insanity and mental illness. The stories in it are making me smile. But as I smile, I look up and catch the eyes of a stranger, and they look at me as if to say, are you crazy?
Smiling without a perceptible cause to the observer is seen as a potential sign of madness in england.
Well, this is it. I am stepping into the new woman-centric version of Forage Botanicals. From now on, I'm all about the ladies. New features include:
- Joyful Periods 2.0 a course in having a better period, naturally
- Free guides to common hormone conditions
- A natural beauty products shop with period supplies