Who are you?
I am a mother, an alchemist, an activist, a writer, a beekeeper and a child of the earth.
What do you make?
I try to make beauty in my life, whether it is in the food that I prepare for my girls, the posts that I do on my blog or the beauty products that I create. I feel like beauty heals, and if I could add some beauty to the world in some way - if that could be my legacy on this planet - I would be very satisfied.
What prompted you to make your own line of beauty products?
I was making face oil for myself and I had been making it for years because I could never find oils. Back then people thought that oils made you break out, but I knew from Ayurvedic traditions that oil is actually good for your skin. I used to make my own blend and I would give it here and there to friends. I didn’t really think much of it. And then one day when I was doing Kundalini yoga, it just came to me in a download during meditation. At least the face oil came to me that way and then that sort of snowballed into the whole line.
What I realized when I started my brand is that there are a lot of beautiful, handmade, granola natural products, and then there are a lot of high end, chic yet toxic products. There are very few, I think maybe one or two, lines that are chic yet natural and non-toxic. I feel like it is a niche that hasn’t been looked into.
For whom are your products intended?
The customer is a person like myself. I always say that I like to camp in Big Sur but I like to bring 100% organic sheets. So the idea is to have the blending of those two worlds. It is for women who want powerful, natural products that are also beautiful to look at and nice to put on the counter in their bathroom. A lot of younger people seem to gravitate towards my line, which I am so happy about because they seem to get it. So I would say from late teenagers to women in their 70s or 80s; it can go all the way. It crosses gender lines as well as age lines.
What do you hope that your products will bring to your customers’ lives?
I do a lot of beauty rituals and I do feel like beauty can be a form of healing. You can do anything with an intention-based practice. When you put on the body oil, you can think of all the good intentions and positive things that you want to bring into your life. When you are using the body scrub, which has lemongrass to release negativity, you can imagine all the negativity of a day being brushed away. So I would like the intention of ritual to come with the products, and I want the customer to feel good and to make them see that they don’t need toxic products to make their skin look luminous and beautiful.
Describe your workspace.
It’s a studio in my garage. It’s just an extension of the house, which makes it easy when my younger daughter is around; I can work from home. Usually I will put on mantras and have crystals around. I really feel like the energy of a place is important to how the creations will come out.
Under what conditions do you work best?
Definitely peaceful conditions. I really do feel like I need to work in a space that is clear, so I like to clear the space with sage. It’s like cooking in that you don’t want to cook in a place that is messy. You want to feel inspired.
Describe your process.
Before work there is always a meditation that has been done. If I’m not in a good frame of mind I won’t make the products because I feel like it will be passed on. It’s also like cooking in that way; the molecules absorb your energy. Some people believe that, some people don’t. But to me, if you’ve been in a bad mood and you make dinner and it doesn’t taste as good there really is some merit to that, versus if you put your heart and soul into something.
My process depends what I am making. Some of the things are made in a lab, but I still make the face oil, the body oil, the bath salts and now the face scrub myself.
How have you learned what you know? Have you had any teachers or mentors?
I think that I am sort of self-taught. I have a big curiosity, so I will spend years researching something. I devoted myself to acting for so many years and all I did was read plays and books. But I have always loved the idea of alchemy and I have always loved being in the wilderness. Even as a child I would mix things together in the garden. Once I transitioned from acting into the blog I started researching beauty. I just became a voracious reader and was fascinated by the whole concept. I had books on different plants and what they do for you.
How do you choose and source your ingredients?
Ayurveda guided me. They use a lot of sunflower seed, sesame and almond oil, so that was sort of the base. I try to source from farms that I have some sort of relationship with. There are some farms in Oregon, there are some farms in Canada.
Do sustainability and eco-consciousness play a part in your products?
They do in some ways. I try not to have any plastic, which is why it takes so long to source the packaging. My jars are opal glass. I went to a lot of time and effort finding this glass that was a beautiful, high quality glass. When we do mailings we don’t use any plastic or styrofoam peanuts. I try to definitely keep all that in mind.
What is the most challenging part of your process? Where do you find the most ease?
The packaging is definitely an issue. It takes so long. I have been trying to get new labels and it has been about 6 months. It’s like making a movie; the process is so much longer than you think. So the packaging is the most frustrating thing for me.
The most exciting is just making new products. I love that part of it, putting new things together, experimenting, reading up on chickpea flour or sandalwood.
Is there anyone or anything that inspires you?
Mother Earth, Father Sky, Sister Wind and the sacred waters - the healing waters. Those elements really inspire me. Nature is a huge inspiration for me. There are people who inspire me, like Susan Weed, an herbalist who has written amazing books that are all about weeds, like Dandelion, Mugwart, and Nettle. My younger daughter now knows how to name them now because when we go on walks I quiz her. I think that it is so important that we know the plants that are around us. Nadine Artemis inspires me. I met her after I made my line, but she has a beautiful line called Living Libations. Artists inspire me, like Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo. The goddesses really inspire me. All the Hindu Goddesses like Partvati and Lakshmi, which are all about beauty, prosperity and abundance. I read books on them all the time and I have some of their pictures around. For women, there are not a lot of deities and goddesses that we have in our culture, so I seek it from the Greeks, Romans and Hindus. The living tea inspires me. I really love sitting in meditation and drinking this tea from ancient trees in China and Taiwan, it changes you profoundly. My Kundalini yoga practice inspires me, music inspires me. Young, curious, women inspire me.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
I would say to act out of love, not fear. That is always good advice. We often get anxious, and it’s always good to ask, “is this coming from a place of fear or love?” when you have an obstacle in front of you. Another one is, “you don’t regret things you have done, you regret things you haven’t done.” That’s John Lennon, I always like that one.
I also love Yogi Bhajin because he talks a lot about how powerful women are and about how knowing how powerful you are is power. He talks about prosperity and how it is not about being rich, it is about enjoying what you have. That is prosperity. I always like that too.
What has creating your beauty line taught you?
It has taught me how resilient I can be. It has taught me how people are just hungry for beauty and for non-toxic products. It is an exciting time. They say in Kundalini that we are in the Aquarian age. It means there is a new age. People want change, people are making changes. There is more consciousness, there is more love, there is more grace. I know we get bombarded with all the negative, but there is actually a lot of light on the planet.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty to me is life. I can’t imagine a life without honoring the beauty in it. It is everything from a simple flower, to the way light hits a patch on a tree, to seeing a bird fly and hearing its song, to feeling the wind against your face. There are so many things that make you feel alive and are just beautiful. So being present is probably the key to beauty.
How has your practice shaped your hands?
I have never really thought about it, but I think that I definitely appreciate them more now. I am very grateful for them. To be honest I have never really liked my hands - I have been sort of petty about that; I never thought they were beautiful hands. But now I have so much appreciation for them.
Shiva Rose in Santa Monica, California on July 25, 2016. Photographs by Joey Chu.