Starting our business has been quite the adventure like every aspect of our journey, here in the jungle!! We chose to grow medicinal plants rather than a cash crop like coffee or cacao already so prevalent in our area. Being in such a remote location we chose essential oils as it is a product that has a certain value for the quantity. Making it easier for transportation and distribution, allowing a later footprint on the environment.
I wanted to make sure that we got off to a good start. So I placed an order with a few highly reputable seed sellers. Upon my arrival in Peru I was armed with several packets of seeds that were clearly identified. Knowing the exact scientific name of a plant is critical before thinking of using it therapeutically. I also knew that we would need to begin experimenting to discover the distillation process— I wanted to make absolutely sure that we had the highest quality plant materials to do so.
This is where, among others along the way, we made a slight error in judgment. We hired a local welder to put together a stainless steal still. I foolishly did not trust my instincts when I got a vague answer in regards to the soldering material. The result was a sort of amateur apparatus which did allow us to begin experimenting. However, I quickly lost confidence due to the fact that the serpentine cooling tube was contaminated with an unknown gunk. Thankfully I am a smart lady and I did my homework. I researched quality stills and we soon had one shipped to us. I took it very seriously that we would be producing medicines for people to be applied to their skin. Added incentive was that the first to test our products would be my daughter, husband and I.
Now the distillation process is not an art that can be learned easily. There are no how to guides available at your local bookstore. So how did we go about it? A combination of: hours of pouring through countless accounts by distillers from around the globe; a healthy dose of instincts; referencing several volumes describing essential oils; and my nose. I had finally found a usefulness for my highly sensitive olfactory sense! Mix the above with hours and hours of trial and error. The result is incredible knowledge that starts with how the plants are grown and then harvested to finally being distilled. It didn’t end there. The next step was to develop this distillate into products.
We quickly noticed the absence of natural skin care products on the stores’ shelves. Paying hommage to the diverse insect life (most of which sees us as a quick meal) the first formula to arise from our toil was an insect repellent. This one was for our own personal use as much as to offer a chemical-free option to the burgeoning natural care options becoming available in the country.
Our second product has a more interesting story. Every week my husband would saddle up the donkey and trek to a local village. A slew of people approached him for a variety of complaints. He came back one day and re-counted how one teenage son of a friend of ours took him aside. Speaking in hushed tones he asked if we had anything to alleviate his acne. This became my next challenge that allowed us to launch our next spray. The pressures felt at this age combined with raging hormones can be awful. I came up with a solution that makes a huge difference for several adolescents.
The environmental factors of where, how and what time of year can alter its medicinal properties (known in the industry). Please note that I am paraphrasing from my own research as well as an introductory webinar I just participated in through aromahead.com (I’ll give you a link at the bottom of the page, this is a course I hope to complete in the futur). I am sure that the mystery of the Amazon and our location on the banks of the Yanayacu—which translates to Healing River—plays a part in the magic of our products. Ours are unique in that the formulas I create are blended with essential oils and hydrolats we make ourselves. This is the magic I add working with what I have on hand and turning into, what I can proudly say is, a work of beauty. In our universe we have to most wonderful allies: plants! I hope you delve into the world of their essences. Feel free to ask me any questions I’d be more than happy to help if Ii can. Many blessings and thank you for reading💜