Musings for Change

May 12, 2011
Facial Cleansing Grains

Facial Cleansing Grains

Hello my dear readers. Oh, I wish I could blog more often. The intensity of my full-time day job combined with a busy craft season (actually, every season feels really busy) makes it tough. I am so looking forward to what amounts to an “herbal retreat” for me this June, the Medicines of the Earth Herb Symposium , Black Mountain, North Carolina. Check out the cool PDF brochure if you’re interested. Not only can immerse myself in the world of herbs for a nice, long weekend, but I also get to learn from some of the greatest herbal teachers of our time.

When I begin to shift into a new paradigm or even have some ideas for changes to be implemented, it seems that it takes me a very long time to migrate into a new place. I muse about changes for what seems like months, even years, before I make a move.  A true taurus! I confess. This slow drifting towards change can extend from new curtains to new Lilith’s Apothecary products, to new life practices. Why is this? I’m not sure, but I’ve come to accept that it is just my process. On the flip side, I’m also impressionable. When I read about great ideas, hear convincing arguments about ideas, growing practices, food, and so forth, I can internalize them with a passion. But I don’t flit from one thing to another; rather, I deeply internalize things that make sense to me until they become part of my own personal tapestry. And I’m finding that unlike Athena, who sprang from Zeus’s head fully formed in all her philosophical, conceptual, and ideological glory, it’s taken me 34 years to get me to where I am now. Maybe that’s just how it is for we mortals. Given my nature, I fully anticipate changes ahead to be a gradual, growing process. This is why I fully believe in the power of the third phase of life, the Crone’s stage, as one’s potential arrival at wisdom. Before that, it’s not really possible (as I see it anyway), though we try. We do.

I have some goals for the future of Lilith’s Apothecary. I will begin to slowly move towards the accomplishment of these goals over the next year, following my last craft shows of the Spring, The Art Star Craft Bazaar and the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival Last summer was a time of rest. This summer will be a time of careful implementation of new practices in my business.

1. I am going to move away from the use of Plastic. Yes, the plastics I use are all recyclable, but it just doesn’t make sense. I will probably keep certain components, such as pumps, caps, or mister tops, because at the moment, I don’t really see a way around it.

2. I am going to be focusing my product line much more exclusively on Facial Care. This is my area of expertise, and in an effort to keep my customers happily contented, I have often created products that are not really in this sphere. As they are lovely products, too, it’s hard to part with them! I have far too much diversity in my offerings, however, and I am spread too thin in production, which means that people often need to wait for staples such as facial creams and serums. What I may do is offer certain body creams, lotions, etc on a limited basis from time to time, but they may not be as regularly available. An exception to this is my Chamomile & Calendula lotion, as far too many people depend on this lotion to treat various dry skin conditions.

3. I’m going to have to eliminate my Tea line, which I have been pairing down for the last few years. I am still available as an herbal consultant to make specialized blends for pregnancy, post-partum, breast feeding, insomnia, anxiety, etc, however. Feel free to contact me directly, but realize that custom orders can sometimes take up to 4 weeks.

4. By paring down my offerings, I will be able to put more time into the development of new products that fit into my Facial Care line, such as creams that address skin discoloration (in development), products specific to acne issues, and others that have been bouncing around in my head for months!

5. I’m going to invest the necessary time in the development of my website, which was started over 2 and a half years ago, but for which I have rarely felt the ability to devote the necessary attention and time.

So, there are exciting changes ahead! And as I progress along my learning curve as a business owner and developer of natural bath and body products, I hope all my learning shows!

The main thing is that I love my business and I want to continue working on it in a way that is sustainable for myself, for my customers, and for the earth itself. I always welcome a dialogue with my readers and customers and would love to hear about your own personal experiences as well as favorite products. Thank you, as ever!

Listening to your body when it tells you to Slow Down

July 15, 2010
Sarah powell and daughter, Maeve

Me with my daughter, Maeve, in the Bahamas

Where have I been since my last post…about two months ago? As a blogger, I get a big FAIL in the regular posting department, I guess, but for as much as I get frustrated about the difficulty in finding time to blog about the very many things I would like to share with my readers, I also realize that we all (even me!) need to take time for a little respite.

Sometimes the task of living through a regular work week seems more daunting than climbing Mt. Fuji, and yet, week after week, we make it through. But to what expense? I am a full time employee of Temple University’s Department of Public Health and still manage to work on a business at night — usually from 8pm until about 2am. That means i rarely get the much needed 7 or 8 hours rest critical to long-term health. It’s incredibly difficult to juggle blogging, social media, esty sales, shipping orders, and everything else that goes along with having a small business in the wee small hours of the morning. Did I mention that I’m married with a three year old too? 

I would say that just about 100% of the time I feel I’m neglecting someone or something, if not my own health — and certainly not doing everything that I believe I should be doing to “make it”. I look at the business owners of the Indie Beauty Business Network and think, “wow – how awesome would it be to be able to work on growing my business during the daylight hours?” But on the flip side, I have a full time job salary to lean back on when retail sales are low.

This Spring I’ve made some choices that have also meant neglecting some things — such as blogging — a little bit, including taking a two week vacation to the Bahamas. But I have also been able to allow my body to rest, regain energy, and to hopefully provoke new gustos of invigorated creativity in future months.  I have had to cut back on some of the hours I devote to my business, but I am also able to enjoy some local networking in the herbal community, including starting a facebook page devoted to the herby activities, workshops, events, and retail offerings in Philadelphia. Just spending a little more time in the evening with my feet up can also go a long way and during these very hot, very humid summer days, I’m able to allow new ideas to germinate, as well as plans for the future of Lilith’s Apothecary.

Tell me how you handle those times in your life when your body (and mind!) just say “Slow Down!” Do you listen or do you have to be made to stop?

Immune Boosting Herbs talk @ Holistic Moms Network meeting

October 7, 2009




Tonight I had the pleasure of presenting about the use of herbs to fight colds and flus, particularly with regard to the treatment of small children. The presentation was delivered to a local chapter of the Holistic Moms Network. It’s fun presenting to the choir, more or less, as this group is made up of parents who are interested in holistic health & living in all respects. And such a lovely group of people, dads and moms alike!

We were able to talk about the energetics of foods and herbs, the use of preventative versus acute herbal remedies, and dosages for small children & infants. I am again reminded of how wonderful it is to share knowledge and information about our botanical allies, and of course giving such talks only reinforces that for me. I was reading a bog post on ProBlogger this morning about weighing the cost-benefit of speaking at events for free. In other words, what’s in it for the business? For some people, attending a far away conference to speak without compensation means that they have to figure out why the trip would be worthwhile, whether through contacts, networking, or business sales. I definitely identify with that when I think about my ‘day job’ in Public Health. I also make decisions like that when it comes to my business, Lilith’s Apothecary. But when it comes to herbal medicine, if I can afford it, I am more than happy to participate in any way I can. It’s true that I do indeed have an herbal bath and body business of sorts, but I don’t educate about herbs because I want to sell products. In fact, I hardly even indicated that I have a business tonight. Instead, I want others to learn how to make the products for themselves! Sure, I can make it for you if you don’t have the time or desire (i.e. I can’t sew, so someone has to sew things for me!), but if you want to make your own herbal syrup, by all means! Let’s do it. And doing it together is so much fun.

Holistic Moms Network
NJ/Philadelphia Chapter
Collingswood, NJ 
Thanks for having me!

Other posts that may be of interest:
What to do about H1N1: 5 Tips
Nervous About Swine Flu? Look to Herbal Medicine for Immune Boosting
DIY Remedies for the Cold Season Part I
DIY Remedies for the Cold Season Part II
Herbal Facial Steams for the Cold and Flu Season

Lilith Restructuring: Do I get a bail out?

July 20, 2009

09.07.09_orchard_maeve&momThis is an important post because first and foremost, Lilith’s Apothecary is here to serve my customers. For those of you who are loyal to my products, contact me for custom products, facial consultations, herbal tea and tincture blends, and just rely on natural body and facial care, I am here for you! The upside of this business is that it is growing and growing! In fact, I can’t possibly keep up with the growth curve, though I wish I could. It’s unfortunate that I am not in the financial position to quit my 40 hr a week ‘day job’ and that, combined with parenting a toddler and trying to be a good partner to my archaeologist husband, makes it almost impossible to keep up with the diversity of offerings, increasing numbers of wholesale requests, and local retail opportunities here in Philadelphia.

I love what I do with Lilith’s Apothecary and I am not willing to let the business diminish, but I am going to need to ‘restructure’ a bit to ensure that I can keep up. All these 3 am work nights are just not sustainable! Though there’s no financial bail out for me (sadly), despite my passion and love for what I do, I still need to find ways to refine my product offerings, perhaps limiting some lines that are currently available.

So the very important request for YOU, my fans, is to comment below on what you personally can’t live without or had hoped to try in the future. What are the vital Lilith products that stand out? Not only will this feedback help me hear the voice of my customers, but it will ensure that I don’t cut out a product that you personally love. I don’t want to let anyone down as a restructure the Apothecary.

Tamara’s Herbes interviews Lilith…er, me!

February 19, 2009

Herbally-inspired artisan and fellow etsian Tamara of Tamar’s Herbes has recently interviewed me for her charming blog as a featured seller. I thought I would share this interview for those who would like to know a bit more about what is “behind” Lilith (or who!) as Tamara’s questions are great. Don’t miss that last ‘random question’ for a fun bit tidbit or two! Thanks Tamara.

I am trained as a medical anthropologist and work full time in the public health sector. The intersections of disease, healing, and culture have always interested me, from historical, cross-cultural, and even philosophical perspectives. I’ve been studying herbal medicine for a number of years now, and when I first discovered herbology, it was a total “ah-ha!” moment — finally everything was coming together in a way that really resonated with my life. It’s my true passion! I am also a mother with a two and a half year old toddler, Maeve, and wife of Tony McNichol, who is an archaeologist and kindred spirit. I work a forty hour week and then spend between 15 and 20 hours more (at least!) toiling away at night in my basement workshop to create what is Lilith’s Apothecary, a vehicle for my herbal knowledge.

Well, first of all, Lilith does fulfill many of my creative needs. In that sense, I am lucky. I would love to be able to devote more of my life to the Apothecary, but at the moment, my day job provides an income that we can’t really do without. The tough part is not finding moments to be creative, it’s finding a way to make THAT my full-time job. Finding a balance between a full-time job and a ‘hobby’ that really wants to be a full-time endeavor is not easy, actually. Lilith is always growing! But that’s a good thing.

You mean, philisophically? I could answer this questions a hundred times over. I personally believe that a lot of the problems that we have as a species boils down to the fact that we’re just big apes at the end of the day. It sounds reductionist, but when you look at primate behavior, it makes more sense why we as humans do the things we do. That said, what we lack in biological superiority, we do have in the potential to be creative, wise, and cultured beings. I wish we could — as a species — tap into that aspect of ourselves more readily. Can’t there be more Ghandis? Capitalism needs to go, for one thing. It demands an underclass.

I think we all think about this. At the end of the day, I want to feel as though I have impacted people in a positive way. I don’t think there is a legacy that is more important than being a loving, positive influence on those you love the most. I’ve been to memorial services of academics, for instance, who were mostly estranged from their own children because of the all-consuming nature of their work. The negative impact that had on those children is probably worse than the so-called legacy of their academic contributions.

Yoga is a wonderful respite, but I haven’t practiced in a while. It’s really hard to make time for myself that isn’t “work” related, even in terms of Lilith. That said, Ikebana (the art of japanese flower arranging) has been a wonderful outlet for me. I study with an ikebana teacher of 30 years, Midori Tanimune, and she is an incredible influence on me. I have learned so much from her. I also make jewelry, and have a little site, and I do custom work for family and friends, which is a lot of fun.

Etsy, for as ‘expensive’ as it ends up being between etsy fees and paypal fees, has been a wonderful thing for me. I have learned so much about my business since I opened Lilith’s Apothecary in 2007. My photos have evolved, my products have evolved, I’ve been able to reach a much wider audience, and I get a real sense of what my market is and a deeper confidence in my product and what I have to offer.

In my studies of herbology, I learned how to make basic skin care preparations, including salves, ointments, syrups, linaments, tinctures, creams, and skin care products. I have always had sensitive skin, and I realized how superior my hand made products were compared to commercial versions. Family members started “ordering” products from me, and soon I was being commissioned to make things at christmastime as gifts. Once etsy came along, beginning to think about a real business began to take shape, and the etsy store has really forced me into a wonderful learning curve.

I love making bath & body things, but I also love herbal teas, which I offer in my shop, using my herbal knowledge, and I make jewelry, garden, love cooking & nutrition, and practicing ikebana. I hate to sound like a dork, but creating is really what I love to do most, whether it’s a dandelion and gruyere quiche or my latest ‘Boudoir Blossom Facial Cream’

I wish this was a full time business! Maybe someday it will be. It is not really a hobby though, either, as I devote 15-20 hours a week to the development of Lilith, on top of my full time job and family responsibilities. Do I *make* money? No, not really, but I am optimistic! Lilith is young.

Other crafters’ stories of success can be very inspirational (though sometimes it makes me feel a bit defeatest too). At the end of the day, just knowing that I would not ever really want to live without Lilith keeps me going. It’s too much of a wonderful creative outlet for me, and I absolutey thrive from the feedback and interaction with customers. Such a positive experience.

I love the creative evolution ~ the continual refining of a product as well as trying out new formulas and products.
The shameless self promotion that I know i should be engaged in 24/7 to really push these products and get myself out there.

I have no idea. But let’s say that in ten years, I want Lilith to sustain me financially.
That’s my dream. I don’t know if it will happen but that’s my dream.

I have a website that has been in development for a year now and a source of great frustration. Hopefully it will be together soon ~ that’s a different story. I don’t have a brick and mortar store and don’t forsee that happening for a long time, though maybe some day! I am starting to do some consignment and wholesale and it will be interesting to see where that takes me. mommaeve_christmas08

Random Question:
If you were having a dinner party and could invite three famous people, who would they be?

I would like to be really ‘clever’ with this question, but I think I’ll be self-indulgent and answer it as honestly as I can (of course it is somewhat impossible because there are so many people I’d love to sit down & share a glass of wine with). I am not sure if these famous people are supposed to be alive or if I can drag some back from the dead, but I’ll be doubly indulgent and go with the latter: Marcel Duchamp, Alistair Crowley, and Gertrude Stein. Now that would be an interesting party!


January 21, 2009

I would be remiss in neglecting to acknowledge the wonderfully exciting inauguration events that took place for our 44th president, Barak Obama, yesterday, January 20, 2009. As an American, I can certainly say that this is the first time I’ve ever felt excited, inspired, and hopeful about a new president. I know I’m not alone in this.



Links & etsy sellers

January 9, 2009

Drat! I just added a thousand favorite links (mostly herbal) and ten thousand fav etsy shops and none of the links are live. I am figuring this out as a I go, but….I have no idea how to fix this! Maybe it will enter my brain by some kind of wierd wordpress osmosis. One can dream.
Anyway, in looking through all my etsy favs, I just have to point out one shop:
Wow do I love these amazing minature felted birds in minature hand crafted nests. I have bought two of them as presents and there are a million more people I would love to give them to. So precious!