A monthly series of conversations with makers, farmers, designers, and visionaries in our community who share a passion and commitment to the environment through their unique experiences, the products they create and their impact on the world.
From these intimate conversations we can see the similarities and the deeper connection in all of us, and potential for our collective impact on the world.
In our first Analog conversation, Alterra Pure co-founder, Wanda Weller speaks with Stacey Moss of Moss Botanicals in Ojai, California. Stacey creates beautiful healing aromatic blends using organic essential oils from sources that honor the plants and the people who help create them.
photo: Mariana Schulze
WW To begin, I love that your business, Moss Botanicals, is based on the idea of bringing awareness and consciousness to the impact of our choices, and to provide people with transparency around the products they consume, so they can make well informed choices. Can you tell me more about Moss Botanicals and what it means for you?
SM / Moss Botanicals was founded on principles of inspiring people through the most powerful sense that we have which is our sense of smell. It's also connecting them to a deeper sense of themselves and their environment. The process of aromatherapy is really multi-leveled, and can go from inspiring people to be more intuitive, to helping create a deeper connection for them with nature.
WW / You do a really lovely deep dive into the meaning behind the different plants you use for your product offering, where you create a word that describes the healing quality behind your blends, such as Rest, Relief, Strength and Balance, which seem to address both from the emotional side as well as the plant-based healing aspect of the combinations. Can you speak more about that?
SM It was always my intention for Moss Botanicals to look at the plant profiles and how they will relate to one another. Plants in synergy with each other and then the plants energy with us and how that relates, mind-body-spirit to the plant. For instance my product called Balance is going to work more on the regulatory side of the body while also reminding us to create balance in our lives. But the plant is also vibrational in that piece of creating regulation and balance in the system through the synergy of the plant combinations working in harmony together.
I love the intuitive aspect of what I do because that's the most important piece. I have the background and the knowledge around the science part of what I do, which is great to bring in for safety, or how to go into a formula which might be more therapeutic on a physical level,
but I find the most fulfillment in connecting with the plant on a more intuitive level and actually allowing the plants to communicate because they have that quality of communication.
WW / You seem to have a very deep knowing and connection with the work that you do, which makes me curious about your background and what brought you to this work?
SM / I had been a body worker for 20 years, and I've always had a reverence for plants. At that time, I had been working alongside a woman who mentored me through her knowledge of plant medicine and I just fell into this arena of essential oils.
I've always made formulas for friends and family for healing and was the go-to person for healing and when I started using some of the formulas that I had made there was so much positive feedback on them. That's how I ended up starting Moss Botanicals.
“I've always considered myself an ambassador to the plants and being that voice for the plant medicine to come through.” -Stacey Moss
WW / How was your business effected by the Thomas Fire here in Ojai?
SM / I lost everything. My home, my garden and in turn my business. I feel like it burned my identity to this place of no reference points. As difficult as that loss was, there was a lot of freedom in that too.
WW / Lessons in loss and adaptability. The fire has been an incredible metaphor for that. Just seeing what happened to the people and the land of this community, which at first felt so devastating yet to see it now, in a relatively short amount of time, the resiliency after so much loss. Its incredible.
SM / I look at the mountain every day outside my window and I'm doing my dishes and I think to myself, I've seen them go through everything and yet it's still so beautiful and it is such a great reminder for me because although the mountains don't speak, they speak so loudly. So I see it burned and it just goes through these different cycles. And I think the same thing is inside ourselves and outside ourselves we're always going through different cycles as well, like these births and deaths every single day. And so, every day is an opportunity to really examine how we live and be in that moment.
WW / What are some of the common misconceptions or misunderstandings for those of us not trained in plant medicine or essential oils?
SM / One example I can think of is the advocacy toward ingesting essential oils. And mind you, I don't sell essential oils in the pure form, I dilute them in water or jojoba oil. Yet a lot of people want to ingest essential because companies will advocate for that.
However, if you're not educated about what you're ingesting or the proper dosage, you could actually suffer some potential damage. Depending on the condition, it's worth taking a deeper look at what is the more gentle approach and err on the side of caution.
WW / And what about the efficacy of products? That is something we have been extremely committed to as part of our core philosophy with Alterra Pure. Shedding light on the misconception around Organic.
SM / I would say the same is true for me. I'm always learning, questioning and investigating. What I’ve found is that many of the old practices are being depleted because less ethical manufacturers can get a higher yield by creating adulterated versions of their product at a much lower cost. In this industry you can see this with something like Sandalwood for example and because of the neglect of the old practices in processing this plant, the sandalwood families are dying out and can’t compete or survive anymore. So sadly, there’s a cultural death that happens with ill-informed consumerism. Which is something we have to keep looking at, questioning, or everything will become completely homogenized.
WW / Considering all the changes you have endured with your business over the last couple of years, what do you envision for the future of Moss Botanicals?
SM / I'm giving myself a little bit of time and working really diligently on growing the business. Before the fire, it felt like it was on the precipice of really growing to the next level, yet post fire, I had to pause and re-evaluate everything. I had to ask myself, what am I doing? I instinctively began to build it back up yet in the process I felt like I was also suffering from PTSD and not having quite recovered from the fire.
As I re-evaluated the business, I decided I wanted to streamline everything for a bigger market. I looked at packaging, product assortment and my role in the process. Ultimately I would love to be more of a consultant to the business and move towards the role of Earth Ambassador, and be more of a spokesperson and advocate for the Earth.
I've always seen Patagonia as a great model and more specifically to what I do is Mountain Rose Herb company, which has built their business on nothing but plants and communities and sustainable agriculture and to be able to build a company on that would be my dream. That as well as to be able to give back and inspire other companies like Moss Botanicals, small companies that want to do something good for the planet.
WW / Well the thing that you said in the beginning that really spoke to me was this intuitive listening so going back to this idea about how so many of us are so disconnected because we're always plugged in and this idea of analog as a conversation is I think we have truly lost the sensitivity towards those really basic elements of connection with our self.
SM / I totally agree. I'm so sensitive. It's not easy to be a sensitive person in a loud world. I know that Edgar Cayce said “that sound be the medicine of the future.”
WW / And perhaps modern life has taken that concept of “sound” too literally, and really what he’s saying is that the medicine is in the listening. Listening to our intuition, the sounds and rhythm of nature, including the plants, the animals and the seasons. I can definitely see the medicine in that.
Thank you Stacey for your time and your beautiful story of Moss Botanicals.