Hello friends! I am happy to share the next interview in our series. I’ve made a little change to the title of the series. From now on it will be called, Inspiring Women. I’ve been wanting to switch the name for a while and decided to go for it. I feel this new title speaks more directly to the series and community of creative women I am interviewing. Looking forward to sharing interviews a little more frequently and cannot wait to introduce you to Briar today!
Briar Winters is the incredible talent behind Marble & Milkweed, a NYC based skin and spirit apothecary. I came across Briar’s gorgeous Instagram feed last year and immediately felt a connection to her creations, images and words. Her rose and chamomile nectar are just beyond amazing for my sensitive face and her botanical fragrances are complex and delicate. Briar is truly gifted when it comes to transforming her deep relationships with plants into tools to help us simplify our self care.
What inspires me about Briar is that she is clearly living her practice. Her intention to make time for self care, for her partner and Mother nature is what this series is all about. Today we talk about creating balance in life and work, the importance of stillness and connecting to the cycles of the natural world.
Share your self care musts.
These days I am more of a night owl than a morning person, so I often work late into the evenings, and save mornings for myself. I feel so much better throughout the day when I’ve taken time to wake up slowly. A warm bath before bed each night, and eight hours of good quality sleep are crucial, as is clean, plant-based nourishment, plenty of water and a brisk walk, as often as possible.
What does your body need to feel nourished?
Water, veggies, plenty of protein and healthy fats. I love routine and ritual, and I always start my day with a glass of water at room temperature with the addition of several herbal tonics, my current favorites are the Chamomile Bitters (to gently jump start digestion) and Joy Tonic, from Urban Moonshine, and a mushroom extract blend from Paul Stamets. Then a little triphala powder mixed in warm water, and then our household variation on the turmeric tonic: grated fresh ginger and turmeric, tulsi, fresh lemon juice, black pepper, ashwaghanda and raw honey in warm water. This helps me start the day hydrated and gets my digestive fire going.
In Ayurvedic terms, I tend towards Vata imbalance, so warm, nourishing foods help to address that. I also try to stop and stretch throughout the day (especially if I’m working at my desk) to keep the circulation going. It’s so easy to do a lot of walking here in New York City without even realizing it, and it has always been one of my favorite ways to spend time here, in motion. It’s invigorating and clears my mind.
How do you create balance between your personal and professional life?
This is my biggest challenge from day to day, and because of the constantly changing nature of absolutely everything. I try to accept that this balance will never be perfect. The journey toward a sort of equilibrium seems almost more important. Mostly, I try to be observant of how I feel when I make certain choices about my time, and I try to make a distinction between what is important and what is urgent and prioritize accordingly.
It’s incredibly easy to take on too many things, so I’ve been practicing saying no a little more often, and I’ve found that it actually opens up space for me to get clear on exactly what I want, and it also makes room for wonderful surprises, and a little more quiet time. It also helps that I am blessed with a partner who is an amazing cook (among so many other things!), which encourages me to come home in time for dinner on nights where I might be tempted to work too late and overextend myself. Time with him is something that grounds and nourishes me.
Best advice you’ve ever taken.
I’m actually a little wary of advice! I think the most important advice I’ve ever taken was to trust my own intuition. The more I do that, the more I feel as if I’m on the right path.
Share a favorite seasonal wellness tip.
My favorite way to get into the spirit of spring and wake up my sleepy winter body is to get out into the garden. Preparing our community garden plot for the growing season is great exercise and working outdoors after a long winter brings me a calm, focused energy that I can carry throughout my day.
Name three plants that are inspiring you right now.
With spring now finally in full swing here in the Northeast, I’ve been thinking a lot about the spring tonic plants for cleansing and rejuvenation, especially nettles and dandelion. I grew up thinking of these plants as weeds, but now I understand more about their value both as medicine and food, and I am constantly astounded by their generosity. I’ve also been studying the wonders of the rose geranium this spring while assembling my spring kit for the shop, where her beautiful fragrance and healing properties make an appearance in several of my seasonal offerings. The balancing effects of rose geranium on both mind and body make it a wonderful plant for the seasonal transition into spring.
Have you ever struggled with self care in your life? How did you navigate that?
Before I started Marble & Milkweed, I was working in commercial pastry kitchens, an environment where self-care is basically non-existent. The days were long and stressful, and it was easy to develop all sorts of unhealthy habits. I watched a lot of people burn out and suffer from health problems that they weren’t old enough to have. I was really young, and I had the energy and the drive to do the work, but I eventually realized that I wanted a more balanced life, and that I wanted to have more control over how I spent my time. I am perpetually dancing with and struggling against the art of time management as a small business owner, and there are still long days, but at least I can adjust my schedule taking into account what feels most natural for me. I didn’t want to spend my whole career struggling against a system that had been created without anyone’s well-being in mind.
How do you strengthen your intuition?
For me, the best way to do this is to get quiet. To tune out a lot of the noise, both literal and figurative, that surrounds me. Living and working in the heart of New York City can be hectic and draining, but these days, I find that the noise that throws me off the most comes from the internet, which is where my business is based. It’s difficult to do, but bringing more mindfulness to my use of technological tools is helping me to create more space for quiet, and thus better access to my intuition.
Walking in the city is very meditative for me, and it’s one of the main ways that I mull things over and look for answers. I think most of us are bombarded with images and information about what other people are doing (so much of which can be very inspiring), but I think that it can also block our access to the quiet guides within us. I also try not to rush decisions. I prefer to sit with a decision for as long as I need to until I feel sure of which way to go, and if there is someone trying to hurry me along, that’s usually a sign that however good the opportunity sounds, it may not be right for me.
What advice would you give to young women entrepreneurs?
While everyone will have a different journey building their business, I have felt immensely grateful to be a part of a supportive community of other women business owners. A diverse group of people who are in similar stages in their business can be such an incredible source of friendship and moral support, resource sharing, as well as opportunities for collaboration.
How do you stay motivated and inspired?
I look to the rhythms of the natural world for inspiration, the shifting of the seasons, the cycles of the moon. These are the most ancient ways of marking time, and I’m always seeking to share ways that we can connect more deeply with them in our daily lives. I’m also constantly on the lookout for beautiful new raw materials to inspire new projects and blends.
More and more small organic farms are popping up every year in the Northeast, reviving the local markets for everything from medicinal herbs, to grains to oils, and I’ve been able to make some amazing connections with local producers to source many more of my raw materials locally. Keeping bees with my partner over the last few years has also been an amazing way to sync with the seasons, becoming aware of exactly what is blooming when, and learning about the connections between ourselves, plants and pollinators.
Motivation for me mostly springs from gratitude. I am so thankful to have the freedom to choose my own path, and to have support on this journey from my partner, my dear friends and family, and my incredible customers. I’m inspired to do good work by the people who have believed in me and have helped me get here.
What are you most grateful for?
Being alive. The opportunity to be here, to give and receive love, to learn and struggle on this beautiful planet is the ultimate gift.