I have been deeply involved with plants for most of my life. I find endless connections between plants pottery, and fermentation - the core of which is understanding and working with the alchemy of earth materials in the presence of water and fire. In 1978, a course at Penn State in Orienteering and Survival initiated a life long interest in foraging and the use of wild plants as medicine. Living in a tipi amidst Balsam Poplar trees in Kodiak, Alaska in 1981, I made my first botanical healing oil from the resinous buds of the trees. In 1993 I traveled to my ancestral home of Stropkov, Slovakia, looking for gravestones. I found those but also found an entire living family and discovered that I came from a long line of medicinal herbalists. These trips (which continue to this day) and the vibrant family of living descendants who are artists, teachers, and herbalists, inspired me to open Karen’s Botanicals in 2004, and to begin formally marketing the organic creams, lotions, toners, oils and medicinal herbal products that I had been making ever since. I dedicated the business to my great- great- aunt Zsuzsanna Palcso and her family. I continue to be inspired by the serendipity of this connection, and by the passions that bind the generations together. Read more about The Slovak Roots of Karen's Botanicals.
By 2011, the business had grown so much that I couldn’t manage it anymore in my home based setting. I knew if I took the next step of growth by moving to a commercial facility that I would become a business manager instead of a plant person. So, I sold Karen’s Botanicals to Pamella Mitchell who owns and operates the business in Georgia. Pam is an amazing person who loves the plants, the products, and the process as much as I did. Today, I make products for friends and family and teach others how to do so.
My philosophy is to use simple, unrefined plant ingredients with whom we share an ancient relationship. Like great bread and fine wine these products are intended to bring sustenance and pleasure to life. Products begin with whole, mostly organic plant materials that contain a wide spectrum of nourishing compounds. Recipes are informed by traditional and contemporary herbal wisdom and formulated with deep appreciation for the healing potential of the natural world.
Today, classes in making botanical products
Currently, I am offering a variety of classes in Botanical Lotions and Potions which include herbal facial creams and serums, body lotions, aromatherapy sprays, healing herbal salves and balms, therapeutic infused oils, and more. I also host Family Weed Walks at your place, mine, or at a local park. Weed Walks are fun and informative. The first part is wandering around and finding and identifying common herbs and plants. The second part is learning how to use them in cooking and bodycare. There are scheduled classes ready for registration and there is a menu of classes for custom private, individual, and group instruction. You can select what you'd like to make and we can do it at your place or mine. Please see the classes page for details.
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