There's no doubt that plants have a magical, important role in our lives. Not only do they sustain us, but they inspire us, while keep our bodies + skin healthy. As part of my Plant-Powered + Small Business Interview Series, this second interview features Jenn from The Lavender Lotus.
Jenn's unique educational experience as a holistic health advocate and founder of an all-natural (seriously, though), plant-based skin care line, The Lavender Lotus, she's got a lot to share. In this interview, Jenn shares with us:
- how to navigate the confusing marketing of 'all natural' products
- her favorite plant-powered products to work with and why
- her #1 struggle when creating true all natural products
- the latest plant-powered product line she found + how impacts her spirit
- the morning self-care routine she follows without fail
Because I loved Jenn's perspective so much, this interview is a tad longer than normal. So, brew yourself some chai and enjoy.
Editor's Note: This interview is part of the Plant-Powered + Small Business Interview Series. If you're new to Die Vibrant, welcome! Whether you want to infuse more plants into your daily life, transform your beauty routine from conventional to all natural, or want to eat more plants, you're bound to find something here for you. Don't forget to download the free guide to Plant-Powered + Holistic Living. If you own a small, plant-powered business, and want to add your voice to the interview series, shoot me an email here.
Who are you? How has your journey led you to create The Lavender Lotus? Where are you located in the world?
My name is Jennifer, I live in beautiful Mara BC on the Shuswap River, and I'm the proud owner & creator of The Lavender Lotus – natural, plant based skin care. My desire to live a cleaner, greener, and more meaningful lifestyle led me to explore how plants & herbs can be used to heal our bodies inside & out, and how we can eliminate the toxic overload of chemicals & preservatives we are exposed to with conventional beauty care products.
Are there specific courses, books, or teachers that you learned from and / or look up to when it comes to creating plant-powered products?
I took several courses ranging from Aromatherapy, Herbology, Anatomy & Physiology, as well as Pathology. That gave me a really good foundation of understanding how the skin works, and how chemicals in our products affect & actually change the cellular structure of our skin, and even our genetic code.
I also learned how different botanicals, oils, butters & waxes can heal and regenerate our skin cells and keep us not only looking, but feeling younger.
One of the first books that I bought and reference from a lot is The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Victoria Ann Worwood. It’s a really good introduction to natural, non toxic recipes and info for humans and animals!
The cosmetic industry is highly unregulated, yet people continue to buy chemically-laden products (most times without even knowing it!). For those transitioning from conventional beauty and body products to more natural, plant-powered ones, what is your best piece of advice to make the transition more simple + easy?
There really is so much information out there, sometimes it can be overwhelming. I would recommend starting with getting to know your ingredients. David Suzuki has a list on his website called “The Dirty Dozen”.
Once you recognize and know what those ingredients do, it’s easier to avoid them. The first thing I replaced was my moisturizer, then, a little at a time I gradually changed out all my beauty products, and I can say my regime is almost 100% plant based. It’s tough to find makeup that is completely clean, so that’s the only area I’m really trying to do better in.
Adding to the previous question, are there any products we may perceive as safe + healthy, but in reality are not at all?
Oh my, yes, there are a lot... one of the main ones I can think of is Aveeno. Their commercials are so misleading. Just because there’s a minute portion of Oatmeal and Aloe in their cream, they can say it’s “all natural”.
Again, the cosmetic industry is so unregulated, so the manufacturers can put whatever they want in their products and don’t even have to give full disclosure on those ingredients. My motto is, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t use it.
Where do you find inspiration when creating new products?
My friends, my family, my supporters. I’m always asking people what they need from their skin care products, and what they would swap out if they had a natural alternative. I have a really good nose too, so if I smell something I like, I play around and blend different oils to recreate something that smells similar, clean, and has superior healing properties.
What does a typical day of creating products look like for you?
A typical day starts with tea and Kundalini meditation. Then I turn on some music or an audio book and get at it. I always start with the time consuming things first, like soaps and salves, then I work my way to the easier stuff like toners and body sprays. I love mixing all the raw ingredients together and seeing (and smelling!) the finished product.
Plus, knowing how beneficial they are when we use them makes me feel like I’m making a difference in this world, even if it’s on a small level.
Sourcing products locally is important to you. Why does it matter if products are sourced locally or not?
It is really important to me, and my goal one day soon is to grow all of my own botanicals and make my own oils. I grow my own herbs and a majority of the flowers I use in my soaps, like Lavender, Spearmint, and Rose. I also make my own Vanilla essence.
Recent studies show that the healthiest people are the ones that utilize ingredients within a 100km radius of their geographical location.
This is also true for skin care.
Of course this isn’t always possible for things like Avocado butter, or Tamanu oil, but I always take great care to make sure those imported ingredients are sustainably grown, fairtrade, and organic. I take the time to infuse whatever I’m making with my purest intentions and the passion and love that started me down this road in the first place.
What are your top 3 plant-powered ingredients to work with? What healing qualities do they have and what makes them magical to you?
Ooooh that’s a good question...I would have to say coconut oil, frankincense, and rose oil.
Coconut oil is such a wicked multi-purpose oil. It’s got a natural SPF in it, plus it’s anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, and you can eat it and lather yourself in it. It’s all I use in the summertime and it totally gets rid of cellulite, plus keeps your skin, hair, and nails healthy.
Frankincense is a powerful oil that has been used since Egyptian times and was thought to be the healer of any ailment. It has also been proven to fight cancer cells and was used by Cleopatra for it’s amazing anti aging properties. Plus, it calms anxiety, which we all can benefit from.
Rose oil is another favorite, not only for how pretty it smells, but also for its anti-aging properties. It’s a hormone stabilizer, making it perfect for PMS and menopause. I feel so luxurious when I use it, even when it’s “that time of the month” haha.
Are there any challenges you’ve faced in creating a plant-powered business?
Yes, definitely. Since my products are essentially raw, I have had a hell of a time finding the perfect ratio with a natural preservative. I’ve had to replace whole batches of creams because they went moldy - but - it’s never been a bad thing to my clients because they can see that it does have a shorter shelf life because it is totally chemical-free.
Die Vibrant is for wild spirits, natural healers, and truth seekers wanting to infuse more plants into their lives from beauty to diet. We’d love to know: how do plants fit into your everyday lifestyle? How do they make you feel?
We are vegetarians in my house, and we get our veggies from a local farm here. Every week we get to go to the farm and load up a big box with fresh, organic produce. Knowing where it comes from, and the love and hard work that went into making it grow just gives us such a deep appreciation for our food. It feels whole and it feels vibrant.
I treat my skin the same way. Plants are living, breathing beings, and incorporating them into our daily lives is like second nature. Why use/eat something made in a lab when Nature gave us everything we need to survive and thrive?
What do you think it is about plants that connect us with ourselves more deeply? Do you have any experiences with plants, present or past, that inspire you?
I think it’s the intention of getting back to our roots that creates that connection. It’s a sense of grounding into Gaia (Mother Earth) and showing her gratitude for the many gifts that she gives so freely to us.
I recently found a line called LotusWei that uses floral and gemstone essences to create these amazing elixirs and perfumes. I chose their Infinite Love elixir, which you place under your tongue. It’s made with organic honey and a combo of flower essences like Hong Kong Orchid, Fireweed and Lotus, and infused with Pink Tourmaline.
When I taste the sweetness of the honey and feel the warmth of the flowers and gems, I feel like I’m partaking in a secret, ancient remedy that brings immediate awareness to my Heart Chakra and awakens my Spirit.
What does a morning ritual look like for you?
Mornings are my favorite part of the day. As soon as I get out of bed, I use a tongue scraper and drink 2 large glasses of room temperature water. I’m really digging Ayurveda and the symbolism behind drinking something warm to keep the Pranic fire that builds inside our bodies as we sleep burning and ready for digestion.
I wash my face with warm water and apply my Face Fuel anti-aging cream to my cheekbones and neck. I usually wake up before everyone else so I can do my Kundalini Meditation. That involves some soft chanting and setting my intentions for the day ahead.
I use crystals and Aura Soma oils for each Chakra. I have a Burmese singing bowl my parents brought me from my ancestral village in Myanmar, and that incorporates the vibration of sound with my meditation. I’ve learned that self-care is so important.
I think back to how I used to be so disconnected from my body, and how sick I used to be all the time. The communication with my higher Self had broken down, and it showed in every aspect of my life. As women, we tend to put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. This does not serve us.
I’m so grateful to be where I am in my life right now, to be so aware, and so tuned in, it’s like I’ve reconnected with a long lost love. I preach self care to every woman I know...I would love one day to lead women’s healing retreats and dig into the darkness we carry about ourselves so we can uncover the beautiful radiant light.
Out of all your products, what is the one that you use the most? What do you love about it?
It would have to be the Radiant Rose toner. I love that I don’t need to use any moisturizer after it, and it just makes my skin feel so incredibly soft - and it smells like roses - which I love...which leads me to the next question...
If you could be any plant, what would you be? Why?
A rose. Any kind of rose. I love the colors, the smells, and the way I feel when I come across a really vibrant one. I love the softness of their petals, and how just by smelling one it can take you on an incredible journey of the senses.
What simple things bring you joy + happiness?
Ahhhh, there are so many...a warm cozy fire and a good book (I have wood heat so this happens often!), watching my dogs play together, heart to hearts with my son, a smile from a stranger, cooking a meal for my loved ones, sharing a glass of red wine with friends, snuggling on the couch on a lazy Sunday with my man, playing in my garden, hanging out with my little nieces, going for walks, learning something new, playing with my Aura Soma set, listening to audiobooks, hanging out with my mom and my sister, watching the snow fall, eating my favorite foods...I could go on. I’m pretty low key these days.
What are some words you live by?
“The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams” - Eleanor Roosevelt.
"Don’t look back, you're not going that way. There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for."
“Love the life you live. Live the life you love” - Bob Marley. I keep this one written on our chalkboard in our kitchen.
Where can we find out more about you online or in person?
More about Jennifer
Jennifer Sanjenko, Holistic Health Guru, Aromatherapist, Lover of light & magic - creator of The Lavender Lotus. I’m 32 years young, and I’m a mother to a super cool 14 year old boy named Caleb. My home is where my heart is and I share it with a loving, supportive man who I also share 2 drooly Mastiff dogs with. My hope is to be an inspiration and guide for women who are struggling to find their voices, their dreams & their worth . My goal is to empower and encourage women through self-care & unconditional self-love.