I'm back with another artist interview with one of my new favorites on Etsy. While looking for some natural alternatives to the medications I quit taking a year ago I ran across a great shop that sells herbal teas, baths, and salves. She also makes great custom blends so you get everything you need in one tea. Jess from good4you has kindly agreed to answer a few questions.
Randi: How did you get started creating teas at home and what motivated you to open an Etsy shop?
Jess: I was inspired by a class I took 4 years ago at UMass Amherst. It was in a beautiful greenhouse. It all came together one night when my friend made me a remedy from whatever was in the kitchen cabinet. Then I started creating teas for my friends in the dorm I was living in. The process grew even larger when I introduced them at an Open Mic coffee house I ran. After graduating I naturally continued the process at my house. I opened an Etsy shop to live the dream of running a small business from my home. I also sell to local coops and natural foods stores.
Randi: You have some amazing custom blends, can you tell me a little about where your ideas come from and what the process is like making these blends?
Jess: My ideas flow naturally, like an herbal dance the plants lead me through. I usually mix them up like paint on a pallet. A little bit of this and yes a touch of this too to make a beautiful painting. The teas start with a base herb like green tea or chamomile. I then add on a ginseng for strength and/or a nourisher like nettles. Next, the medicinals come in for whatever the need of the tea may be. I then finish the tea with a sweetener like stevia, flower or spice.
Randi: Your product names are great! Which of these teas or other products are your favorites?
Jess: I love everything so much. Oh no! Please don't make me do this! Ok ok, you talked me into it. My favorites are (drumroll please) :
TEA: Natural Mystic and Pure Bliss Chai. I am in heaven with the hibiscus tartness and minty undertones of Natural Mystic. Pure Bliss Chai got me through the winter on those cold days. It warmed my heart with milk and honey.
TEA BATH: Rising Spirit. You'll feel like a goddess. Lemongrass, rosemary, lavender, sage, oats, and the spirit of mugwort! Amazing.
SALVE-ATION: is the best as well. I love the all-purpose salve I make. You can use it for anything. It has royal jelly in it too. Such greatness! I use it everyday, right now after some early gardening, for cuts, as a little shine to my face instead of makeup, and for dry dry skin. I love it! It took me 3 years to develop.
Randi: Anyone who visits my shop knows I am a huge wheatgrass freak, but I also love herbal teas. Can you explain the benefits of using your products, both on the body and the environment?
Jess: The teas I make complete me. Herbs are such a great way to feel full of life. They give us vitamins, minerals, medicine, completeness. I package these bundles of nourishing joy in 100% biodegradable and recycled packaging. I also use mason jars that can be reused. I try to keep in mind not creating waste, period. I print out all the labels myself with ink I get locally filled. I also use herbs from local farmers. I think it's important to keep the economy within the peoples hands and not big huge chain stores.
Randi: I see lots of new products coming in to your shop- any big plans for the future of good4you?
Jess: My plan is to educate and inspire as much as possible. I would love to see more successful artists, sustainable practices, a strengthened real people based economy and of course more love! Maybe a little box of tea can speak a thousand words? One day I will have a farm. New products will definitely come too with the inspiration. A huge flood just past full of them so I hope everyone dives in!
Randi: When you're not making herbal teas and baths, what can you be found doing?
Jess: Right now you will find me digging up a huge new garden in our backyard. Now is the time. I heard more people then ever are starting gardens this year. It's a good idea! I also sit in the forest alot. I'm also trying to be a Buddha Blossom, like my tea and see all that happens with love instead of fear. Love Is.
Randi: Describe what your workplace is like, where do you create and package your products?
Jess: My kitchen is an herbal haven. Jars of herbs galore. I pack tea in front of a window that over looks the forests of Mt. Toby. Bird seed and bread covers the sill to bring beautiful birds and squirrels in sight all day! I love being in touch with nature all hours. It shows me the inspiration!
Randi: 4 months shy of your 1 year Etsy birthday and you've managed a fabulous 300+ sales! Any advice for other Etsy sellers out there?
Jess: I have some really good hints actually. I say first and foremost look at what your favorite, most successful shops are doing. Follow their lead. It's good inspiration and motivation. Another hint is using the Renew option for your products frequently, even daily if you can. It will keep them listed up at the top of category searches. I know from personal shopping experience I usually look at the first few pages before moving on. Using Renew also saves the products hit counters from before so it's pretty sweet! It will cost 20 cents every time you Renew, I'd say it's a great investment. Etsy reaches a lot of people. Another hint is something I just started doing which is having a promotion every week. It keeps things interesting. Also, have really really good pictures. FInally, draw from the love and kindness you are!
Randi: Name 5 blogs you're following right now.
Jess: I probably follow 5 altogether, and from now on 6, which will be yours!!! This is so funny! It's going to show another side of me. I love fashion. Even though my style is totally earthcrunch grunge ninja hobo.
I follow Etsy seller Yokoo's blogs (very inspiring).
I love Leanne Marshall's clothing from project runway. She also has an Etsy shop LeAnimal. Seeing successful artists on the rise keeps me motivated.
I also check out the Style Bubble with Susie Bubble.
And with a touch of spiritual stuff, I try to follow the ACIM monk's blog. I was inspired by the Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard and then The Course in Miracles. The ACIM monk shows the love.
And finally shout outs to Etsy seller moonandsundries. I follow Karen's blog because she's a local motivation-inspiration as an artist. She organizes hip craft shows too attracting all sorts of people to the local artisan community/economy.
Randi: Name your top 5 favorite Etsy shops.
Jess: Yokoo, BodhiYarn, EmilyRyan, Idea2Lifestyle & ArmoursansAnguish
Randi: Thank you for giving us a peek inside what makes good4you great!
Jess: This was so fun. Much peace. Spread Love! Drink teA!
And now, some of my favorites from good4you:
Ultimate Green Drink (Wheat grass powder, barley grass powder, beet root powder, chlorella powder, spirulina powder & bee pollen)
Positive Vibrations Women's Tea (Nettle leaves, shatavari root, dandelion leaves and root, alfalfa leaves, gotu kola leaves, cinnamon, red raspberry leaves, red clover blossoms, rosemary leaves, vitex berries, dong quai root, stevia leaves, sage leaves and flowers.)
Remedy Sample Pack (3 tea bags each of 7 different remedy teas: Cheer Up, Natural Mystic, One Love Tea, Satisfy My Soul, Judge Not, Pure Bliss Chai & Sun Song Tea.)