Wild Rose Herbs on the Urban Outiftters Blog!

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We were recently interviewed by Urban Outfitters for their studio visit blog! View the full interview below:

WILD ROSE

Ashley Bessler from Wild Rose on how a childhood of bad-tasting supplements led to her own herbal apothecary line. Images provided by Wild Rose


Hello Ashley! Can you tell us a bit about the history of Wild Rose?

I learned the value of a DIY ethic at a young age. I was raised by a single mother of three and resourcefulness was key in our household. My mom gets credit for introducing me to herbalism. Teas, tinctures and bad-tasting supplements were always on hand, and colorful herb books filled our shelves. This, combined with my immersion in the local punk scene, made me crave the skills necessary to be totally self-reliant. Despite doing well in school, I skipped college and invested in a small library of books on everything from aromatherapy to homesteading.

At first, I didn’t intend to sell my creations. I made them as an alternative to store-bought synthetic products for myself, family and close friends. It wasn’t long before I was selling my herbal salves to the local health food store, funding my new-found hobby. I maintained a low-key presence at farmer's markets and craft fairs for the next four years, even while living off the grid in Northern California. When I found myself back in “the city,” I decided to take my most treasured recipes and reincarnate my products under the name Wild Rose.

Can you tell us more about the ingredients you use?
Wild Rose is my response to an economy where the ecological, political, and social costs of manufacturing are veiled. I spend much of my time tracking down raw materials, packaging, and even office supplies to their source. This minimizes or eliminates the social, environmental, and ethical footprint of my products by choosing sources that are non-GMO, sustainably harvested, organic, or fair trade. I grow many of the fresh botanicals needed for my recipes just outside my workshop.


Are there any seasonal ingredients you're excited to experiment with as we go into the summer season?Right now our rose bushes are incredibly productive. We collect fresh blooms daily, leaving plenty for the bees and butterflies as well. The petals are dried and powdered for use in our Attunement Facial Mask and Bloom Muscle Rub. Calendula is another flower we grow heavily on the farm. These I tincture fresh for our handmade calendula extract, a vital ingredient for our face washes and Ink Spray Tattoo Aftercare.* Calendula is also dried for use in our Wild Man Clean Shave Soap and Garden Carrot Hand Cream.* Summer is also time for collecting fresh yarrow, rosemary, cayenne peppers, lavender and sage. Every year, we grow more of our own botanicals right on the land.


Tell us about your studio setup.
We're incredibly lucky to operate out of a 400-square-foot workshop on our two-acre homestead in the heart of Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley. Most days I float between making products, computer work, and tending to the garden. I'm fortunate to have help from my mother and mother-in-law. The mom team helps me with packing orders, answering emails, and bulk bottling/labeling.

When I get the chance to make a new product, I generally look through my "personal stash" for inspiration. All of my products started as a custom recipe for myself or a loved one. I then do an immense amount of research to get the very best ingredients available. The specific formulation of a product could be called intuitive. I tend to know exactly how many drops or milliliters of an ingredient will give me the result I want. 


Tell us about working in Oregon. What brought you there and why do you stay?
Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley is a hotspot for alternative entrepreneurs. I gain my inspiration from those who have come before me—the formidable, independent herbal and beauty companies who started right here. Of course, I believe the main reason this area is so full of successful, alternative businesses is due to our beautiful surroundings. Southern Oregon, part of the Klamath-Siskiyou Region, is known as a climate “melting pot” as we see the confluence of four different bioregions: North Pacific Coast, Cascades, Great Basin and California’s Central Valley. The people here are varied, but we all hold the same basic values: a focus on sustainability, a love of nature, and a desire to protect this critical bioregion for future generations.

What are some of your favorite Oregon spots? Can you divulge any secret swimming holes you love?Grants Pass is a pretty small town (a population of about 33,000) and the largest in the county! You’ll be hard pressed to find a restaurant open past 9pm. And if you’re looking to shop downtown on a Sunday or Monday—forget it! Grants Pass runs on its own schedule; even the cops hold banker’s hours. Most locals find entertainment outdoors, especially on the Rogue River, which runs right through downtown Grants Pass.

This area holds the largest concentration of intact watersheds in the Pacific Northwest, which means we also hold the largest concentrations of secret swimming holes! I’ve lived in the region for seven years, and I feel like I’ve only begun to explore the endless rivers, streams, and lakes. One of my favorites is on the Illinois River about six miles up Illinois River Road out of Selma. It’s a steep hike down the canyon, but a gentle and deep swimming hole awaits with plenty of jumping rocks.

A few more miles up this road you’ll find the infamous Illinois River foot bridge where daring locals take a 60-foot plunge in the river. Another favorite spot is actually north of Grants Pass along the Umpqua River. If you take Highway 138 East out of Roseburg, you’ll be treated to one of the most scenic and easily-accesible drives through the Cascades. There’s more waterfalls than one can visit within a day, plus the most epic natural hot springs near Toketee Falls.
 

*The original blog posted by UO had many errors regarding the botanicals included in our products. I have corrected the errors here for clarity and truthfulness.

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