When did you start your business and what made you begin?
I started my business in November 2022, not that long ago really. I have been studying Herbalism for the past couple of years, working toward my Clinical Herbalist designation and in the course of my studies I developed a number of products which I shared with family and friends, and their response was amazing. My original intention was to focus on the clinical side of herbalism, with individual wellness assessments and custom preparations, but there really seems to be a demand for the “off the shelf” product lines. People have become really interested in looking after their health and maintaining wellness. The last few years have been incredible stressful for everyone, and people have come to realize that keeping well – in mind, body and spirit – is essential. The product lines I have developed are focused on wellness of body, mind and spirit. They are intended to make you feel better, but also to make you feel good – to bring you joy, give you a delightful sensory experience.
What inspires you most and is there someone who influences you?
I am really inspired by the miracle of nature. I come from a long line of women who make things grow, and I seem to have inherited the green thumb gene. I live in the backwoods, literally in a forest, and am reminded daily of the wonders of nature. We rewilded our front gardens last year, and to my delight, the entire space was filled with incredible medicinal plants – bugleweed, white violet, burdock, St. John’s wort, Queen Anne’s lace, Joe Pye weed, I could go on and on. We each have a connection to nature, a bond if you will, and the symbiotic relationship between us and nature can be amazing. For example: last year I found out that I have a food intolerance to red raspberries, which grow prolifically on my land. Last summer, as the raspberries started to come out, I noticed that so many of them were black cap raspberries, which I can eat. I’ve never planted black caps, but the raspberries and I have a bit of a bond, and the land seemed to know what I need at the moment.
“We each have a connection to nature, a bond if you will, and the symbiotic relationship between us and nature can be amazing.”– Claudia, Mayall’s Apothecary
As for influences, my aunties. I have tons of them, and since my mother passed away 5 years ago they have all stepped into the breach to pass on family lore and wisdom. They are my biggest cheerleaders, giving me help, sound advice, and sometimes an old time folk expression from “the old country” that is just what I needed to hear at the time.
Who are your biggest supporters?
My darling husband. He believes in me wholeheartedly, even when I am not as confident in myself. He comes with me to all the markets and craft shows, is my bodyguard, my biggest supporter and the love of my life. My children are really supportive too—they’ve been on the learning journey with me, act as my product testers for teas, skin treatments, cough syrups and other remedies. I’m hoping that my daughter will follow in my herbal footsteps one day, as I’m following in the footsteps of my Grannie and other ladies in my family tree.
Where do you see yourself in two years? What is your main goal?
In two years I hope to continue to grow my herbal business, and have a clinical and storefront space where people can buy my products, and consult with me for individualized wellness plans and treatments. On the harvesting side, I am looking to cultivate some of the plants with great medicinal value. As people get more interested in herbalism and wildcrafting takes off, there are some medicinal plants which are becoming endangered through over-harvesting. If I am able to cultivate these plants and use them in medicine making, people can still benefit and the plants can continue to flourish in the wild.
If you could give advice to a new business owner, what would it be?
Have a clear vision for what you want your business to be. Set goals for yourself, and timelines, but don’t box yourself in. Be alive to the opportunities to change direction, and sometimes just let it happen. Being an entrepreneur requires a completely different mindset from having a “day job”, and you have to be prepared to make decisions quickly and decisively. Don’t worry so much about making the “right” decision, but make the decision right. I didn’t intend to launch my business in November 2022, but some great opportunities came my way (including the Side Hustle Christmas Market at Venue 1906 and the Enchanted Holiday Huts Market) and I just ran with them. Honestly, it was a really great opportunity to get some exposure and do a field test of some of the products.
The second piece of advice is, cut your losses. If something really isn’t working for you and your business, don’t lose valuable time beating it to death trying to make it work. Step back, reassess it as objectively as you can, and figure out whether it’s workable as-is, workable with changes, or needs to be scrapped. That old saying about “when you’re in a deep hole, stop digging”, it’s true.
Thank you, Claudia!
Shop with Mayall’s Apothecary at The Bazaar Artisan Market in downtown Belleville and find them on Instagram @Mayalls_Apothecary