On the ninth day of Christmas I went to see: FlahertyNaturals
And now for something completely different:
Soft smooth and a wonderful gentle yellow colours. The colour is soft, almost like a buttercup of daisy. I had to choose this because of the lavender. It’s one of my favourite flowers, along with roses. In spring where I live, we are surrounded by huge french lavender bushes, spreading sweet smell everywhere and attracting all the neighbourhood bees! There was also a practical aspect to my choice, just thinking of those cold windy days makes my lips need some of the balm.
Flaherty Naturals opened winter last year and it’s owner and designer Debbie hails from North Carolina, USA. The shop sells a huge range of body products, ranging from lip balms and salt scrubs to body lotions and oils. She has some great holiday gift sets. I’ve tried to selection a cross-section of her produce. I, like many of people Debbie talks of below, have come into direct conflict with the chemicals put into products. Lets just say it was a shampoo my scalp did not get along with! Now I only use natural ingredients. It makes you think. We’re putting stuff on our skin all the time and the skin soaks everything up. I know how it is to go into the supermarket and see all the lovely bottles and labels and think well . . . it looks nice, but then it’s only the outside. Never judge a book by its cover they say. And don’t even get me started on what’s put into food!!!!
I am really glad to see people like Debbie selling naturally good products, especially for those us who can’t make it ourselves, although I count myself very lucky (I have a friend who makes all of mine). With Christmas coming one of Debbie’s gift packs could make a perfect present for any member of the family!
When looking at artists and their work, I always end up thinking about where they got the inspiration, what part did they liked best, what led them to their art and so on. As I am painting silk I think of the colours, deciding which to use, balancing dark with light and loving the way they spread across the fabric. I’ve decided to ask each of the featured shops the same six questions. I am really excited to see the answers; some may be similar whilst others may vary enormously. Everyone has their own way of working and viewing their art, so the answers should be very interesting. Let’s see what Debbie says!
Interview with Debbie
What led you to using natural products and making your own range?
When I started my nail salon business it was in an area filled with 50+ aged men and women who did not care for services at Asian shops for many reasons. I loved working with those in my own age group, and as business increased, I discovered that many of my clients were allergic to salon products used in manicures and pedicures. OPI and Creative Nail Design seemed to be the biggest offenders, and the products I was most familiar with. I began bringing in Certified Organic sugars, sea salts, dead sea salts, and carrier oils like EVOO and Safflower and Almond oils, and we started substituting mixtures made on the spot for use in their services. The combination of organic sugars and salts and oils suitable to that persons skin type or needs lead to me wanting to make products for my clients, and started my quest for knowledge, and the constant learning curve that one sets out on when trying to match a persons body type with herbs, oils, and essential oils that will best service the needs of their body.
I must admit that the greatest reason for starting down this path was the ultimate goal of helping someone with a skin condition. I did not realize at the time that it would also serve as my greatest reward due to the feeling I get when one of my blends helps someone. In all fairness I’d have to say the combination of the need and the satisfaction I feel when a blend works for someone is what motivates me to develop another one for another condition. I’ve always loved a challenge and the opportunity to keep learning and believe that this combination serves my inter needs and the quality of my products.
Since my services were for the hands and feet, and always included a massage towards the end of the service, I also needed to develop skin oils and creams that would mimic the benefits of my exfoliating products. So my initial venture into a product line was one that would exfoliate and moisturize on a weekly basis, and then another one that would moisturize and nourish the skin on a daily basis. The use of “nut free” products was necessary, as were blends that would aid sensitive skin, and blends that would tend mature dry skin.
Knowing that I could not be all things to all types, I began developing blends for normal skin, sensitive skin, and mature skin, with the underlying mission of always “Feeding The Skin You’re In” to help supplement the skin with nutrients that older bodies need, but do not always received through diet, or topically applied products.
What is your favourite part or what do you like best about your art or process?
I love the interaction between myself and my client, becoming familiar with whats deficient in their skin due to age, medication, etc. Then I do my best to match that persons symptoms and conditions with herbs that might best help them, keeping in mind that generally my products will be applied topically, and trying my best to use herbs that would not interfere or adversely affect any conditions or medications they might be taking internally.
It’s also important to make the products easy to use, and have a pleasing aromatherapy scent. My products only work if you use them, so making them as easy to work into that persons life style, and providing aromatherapy benefits whenever possible, has a two-fold effect, one that encourages their use in order to help the condition of the skin, and one that helps the mental state of my clients.
This two fold effect has become the foundation for each blends requirements, and the springboard for the combination of ingredients that I put into each of my products. It is my biggest challenge, and the second most important process in developing a new blend.
My inspiration has always come from my clients needs, and occasionally from a skin condition that I or one of my family members suffers from.
There’s always a lot of trial and error involved, but frequently it also leads to the refinement of another blend as that new one is being developed, and helps me remain open to the different possible combination of herbs.
Nature offers multiple benefits within each herb, and welcomes our creative use of them. I relate it to a field that holds dozens of wild flowers living in mutual support of each other, and try to reflect that “oneness” in my blends.
Do you ever have music on when you work? (I like this question because I always do, in fact I can’t work without it).
I love classic rock and roll and jazz. I’ve just turned 60 and love the 70’s Rock and Roll in a more acoustical style, and 60’s Jazz with its wide range of emotionals and blend of instruments, especially the piano. And occasionally I’ll listen to Chet Atkins or Marty Robbins in memory of my father who was a die hard country and western fan 🙂
On days when I’m researching or brainstorming a new blend I love to listen to jazz. For me it’s very similar to the blending of nature, and its range of moods plays so well into my need to stay open to possible blending of new combinations of herbs with specific properties and benefits.
Rock and roll is for those days when the researching is done and a blend is being mixed. I love the energy and memories that rock and roll offers me as I’m putting it all together, and actually forming a new memory with a long loved melody. Chicago, America, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Bad Company, Kansas, Moody Blues, Allan Parson Project….the list goes on and on, but I think you get the idea of what kind of rock and roll works best for me when I’m in that “production” mode.
Do you have a favourite piece of art in your shop?
My favorite product is still my Lavender Cuticle Oil, and actually the first product I developed with a dual purpose in mind. It can be used on either the hands or the feet, is directly targeted at dry, brittle nails, split cuticles, and the frequent occurrence of fungus experienced by mature clients. As we age we develop deep ridges in our nails which can hold bacterial and contribute to the overall weakness of the nail plate. It’s lavender aromatherapy is generally pleasing to men and women, and its relaxing benefits fit right in with a relaxing nail spa service. It also tends to many other skin conditions that are common to mature nails such as psoriasis of the nail plate, and reduced nail growth. It’s easy to use, has a pleasant aroma, and even helps polish dry a little faster, and prevents that stray piece of lint or hair from sticking to drying polish. It’s almost impossible for a lady to walk out of a hair salon after a pedicure without picking up a piece of hair on her freshly polished toe nails. The cuticle oil gives a “cushion” for lint or hair to lay on, without adhering to the drying polish, and once the polish is dry, it can be lightly rubbed into the skin around the nail. Which reminds me, I need to get my Lemon Cuticle Oil in my Etsy shop, as it was a favorite with my gentlemen, and I’ve been neglecting my male clients needs in my shop 🙂
And finally what would be your “dream” Christmas gift to receive?
Besides peace throughout the world, my dream Christmas gift would be cedar plant markers to use in my winter planting beds. I’ve been cutting long strips out of plastic milk jugs and writing the herb names on them, but often the name lightens so much over the winter, that by spring I cannot read it 🙂 So, the last two years I’ve been making a hand drawing of the planting beds to have as a reference in the spring. I suffer from Can’t Remember Stuff (CRS) occasionally 🙂 I thing Cedar plant markers that have a herbs name burnt into them would be excellent……perhaps a idea for a shop that works with wood and wood burning 🙂
Thank you FlahertyNaturals
That’s it for the ninth in this series. Don’t forget to check out the shop!
A big thank you to Debbie for taking the time to answer all my questions. I have also set up a Pinterest board for all the featured images. You can see it by following my Pinterest link at the top of the page.
Please keep reading this series. Check later this week for the tenth shop for Christmas.
Have a creative day!