Lauren Haynes of Wooden Spoon Herbs on Accessible Herbalism: "Anyone Can Do It"
I … love Lauren?
Lauren Haynes is the founder and CEO of Wooden Spoon Herbs. And she’s pretty much the person I wish every CEO was — passionate, hardworking, dedicated, funny, and extremely prompt when it comes to responding to emails.
Is she an earth angel? All signs point to yes.
Haynes is an herbalist by trade, and started making her own tinctures, tonics, and potions under Wooden Spoon Herbs. The brand quickly grew and is now a cult-favorite — you can find the beautifully designed bottles in chic, one-off stores that sell things like white recycled cotton pants and impeccably wabi sabi ceramic cups — but Lauren is seemingly unaware of and unaffected by her brand’s popularity.
Her enthusiasm, drive, and thoughtfulness around how she works with herbs that grow in the US — originally indigenous land — are something that all conscious entrepreneurs should embody. Keep reading to learn more about Lauren, and join us on Saturday, September 14th for a virtual workshop with Lauren to learn all about herbs for anxiety.
Practical, Business-y stuff:
What's your official title?
Founder & CEO
What do your parents think you do?
Get stressed out all the time… No, they’re proud. They know what I’m doing.
Who was your biggest cheerleader when you first got started? Who's your biggest cheerleader now?
My biggest cheerleader has always been my partner, John. From day one until now. I feel like he doesn’t even know the half of what I’m really up to, but if I’m excited then he’s excited.
Do you love your job? Why or why not?
I LOVE my job. It’s the best. It’s so much fun to be constantly challenged and pushed, all for the sake of sharing my passion for herbalism with the world. It’s incredible, and I can’t believe all the places it continues to take me.
What was the biggest obstacle to creating your own thriving business?
There were so many internal hurdles that were really the hardest, like a lot of self-worth issues. Hiring help and taking all the work off my plate was a huge self worth hurdle. Understanding the value of my products was a self worth hurdle. And accepting or charging money for your work is major self worth work. Not giving things away for free. But it’s good! Leveling up that self worth.
What do you do on days where it feels like it will be impossible to get everything done?
On my best days, that’s when I decide to just try to do even less. Like, let’s have a chill day that day. I’ll turn off my alarm to baseline to make sure I’m getting adequate sleep, and then take it line by line on my to-do list, which often feels like for every one task there are actually five tasks.
On my worst days, I eat junk food and stomp around and just overwork until I’m a puddle of misery.
What inspires you to continue creating WSH?
How much fun I’m having. And all the testimonials that flood in from people whose lives I’ve touched through plant remedies. It’s so cool!
What's your Sun / Moon / Rising Sign?
What's your Human Design Type and how do you feel about it?
Manifestor and I feel like that’s a narcissistic type on paper. I really can’t accept that I’m just supposed to be an idea person and then let other people carry that out. Total out of my nature. Maybe I’m not “living my design” but I will say that I am a powerful manifestor. I’m a non-specific manifestor and it’s eerie how many things I just think of and they appear. I mean, I’m an extremely hard worker, too.
I sort of think of you as a kitchen witch, whipping up spells with botanicals. That requires a lot of creativity and innovation — where do you get your inspiration?
Thanks! That’s such a compliment. I get my inspiration from knowing how much joy, beauty and magic there is in this galaxy. Just infinite. There’s so much muck and bullshit, too, but I just love reminding people that you can work with plants as allies and really achieve major shifts. What could be more magical? Yeah, I just follow what’s magical and lights me up, or what plants I’m tuning into at the moment. There’s also a big healthcare justice piece to my work that keeps me excited to share it far and wide.
What do you do when you're feeling stuck?
I’m a super fiery person, and I rarely feel stuck. I’m the type to walk away until inspiration strikes. If it’s more tangible, than maybe seeking guidance from friends or doing some tarot work. Like right now I need to hire someone to help me and I have no idea exactly what that looks like, so I’m feeling slightly stuck, but also trusting that clarity will appear. So yeah, trusting.
How do you make the discernment between intuition and fear?
Well, I think they make a good pair. Every major decision in my life has been terrifying and I’ve felt that as a pit in my stomach, but I think it’s a good guidepost. Outside of that, I think they’re opposites. Intuition is a knowing and fear is not knowing. I need to think more about that...
Which herbs or plants are on repeat in your rotation lately? Why?
Hibiscus for summer hydration, and medicinal mushrooms and seaweeds. My body has been craving the seaweeds, so I know I’m needing that iodine mineral content, and the medicinal mushrooms always because they are truly so normalizing for hundreds of things, and I’ve seen profound shifts in my health from working with them.
In your opinion, what's an overrated trend in natural foods?
CBD [Editor’s note: SHOTS FIRED!]
What are you most excited about in the WSH SKU list?
The Commune Collection, The Light Ray, and the Venus Potion! These all launched this year, and I feel like they really represent my weirdo, outside-the-box herbal practice. I’m so glad to be offering vibrational remedies and alcohol-free potions in our line now. Plus, they all taste exquisite if I may say so. They’ve all gotten such a great response, which is so validating because they’re such a departure from the “take a few drops of this alcohol extract for your digestion,” or whatever.
Our mission at Holisticism is to make well-being practices more equitable and accessible to more people. How can herbs provide a pathway for equality?
Learning basic herbalism skill is so empowering, and can be done very cheaply or free. Bulk herbs or tea bags from the store can provide months of support for $10 or less. Knowing that chamomile can calm you, echinacea can bolster the immune system, and ginger eases an upset stomach not only provides comfort and resources for homemade first aid, but also can relieve the anxiety of needing a medical professional anytime you have a headache or cold. It’s truly the people’s medicine and only helps you shift more and more into your power. And anyone can do it. I learned all my first skills through books from the library or used book shops, and so can you.
You use herbs and ingredients that you've grown up with in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and part of your process is offering respect to the Creek and Cherokee indigenous people who originated the land you live on now. How do you do that, and how do you work that important distinction into your business?
Yeah! So literally I grew up with them, but I didn’t have the faintest as to what they were. Just to clear that up.
I feel like naming who was here before my white ancestors killed them and stole their land is the first step in respecting those peoples. I think the main way is I try to remember and tell people that for all the ways we think we know and understand the plants here, thousands of people who lived here before us actually had known and mastered using the plants of this area in inconceivably beautiful ways.
How do you think wellness could be made more accessible?
Firstly, by redefining what “wellness” means. It’s such a vapid buzzword, used to sell expensive running shorts and crystals. I actually don’t really believe in the crystal trade, and it really hurts me to see these treasures being ripped from the earth just so they can collect dust on your mantle, next to your deer antlers. Crystals are medicine. But I digress…
Wellness, to me, means genuinely how you take care of your body, mind and spirit. Wellness to me is eating meat after years of dogmatic vegetarianism. It’s learning a new skill. It’s sleeping more and watching trash tv. That’s how I stay “well”! That’s what makes me feel sane in this insane world. And I think once you shift the narrative, then it’s easy to genuinely want to know every person’s individual path to wellness, because it’s real. Then more conversations start happening, and before you know it, we’re talking about how do we make societies well, how do we make communities well.