ayurveda

Monthly Muse: Evan Healy

By Emily, CN Second Generation Co-Owner

When I first came back into the business three years ago, my focus at the store was our body care section. There was a big learning curve with understanding the intricacies of buying: getting to know each brand's particular ethos and story, how to order the products, and how to communicate the value of each individual line to our customers. One of the first brands I worked with was evanhealy, a line we'd carried for over a decade. I was fairly familiar with the products, but I didn't know that much about their back story, the ingredients, and what truly sets evanhealy skin care apart.

Evan and her husband David launched their skin care company in 1999. Evan had been a natural skin care aesthetician for over 10 years, and had studied Ayurvedic medicine, homeopathy and aromatherapy in the US, Europe and India. She brought core tenants of these philosophies into her new skin care brand - as well as her own unwavering passion for authentic beauty and truth. What makes the evanhealy line so special is not just that their ingredients are impeccably sourced - they build deep relationships with women's cooperatives and small family farms around the world to ethically source the majority of their high quality, organic ingredients - but also that their plant-based products are formulated to highlight and embrace your skin. Rather than correcting "problems" or "challenges", Evan's products heal and harmonize with your skin's natural beauty. On every one of their shipping boxes is a sticker with the message "Who you are is enough." Using Evan's products feels like taking a deep breath of fresh air, drawn down into your belly, and exhaled slowly. The mixing of oil, water (and sometimes clay) is one of my absolute favorite daily rituals now.

We were lucky to learn more about Evan's own rituals, her quest for authenticity, and her passion for running evanhealy alongside David and their wonderful team. Read on for our interview:

All photos courtesy of Evan Healy.

Evan in a field of Sacred Tulsi in Trivandrum, India, 2009. Photo by Niika Quistgard.

Evan in a field of Sacred Tulsi in Trivandrum, India, 2009. Photo by Niika Quistgard.

Partnerships are very important to the evanhealy brand - when you source an ingredient like organic shea butter or fair trade argan oil, you're working closely with the communities that grow and harvest the raw material and you support their livelihood in deep ways. Can you tell us a little bit about why these relationships matter to you and to the company, and one particular partnership story that inspires your work?

Evan: Partnerships are the foundation of our business. Our relationships are what matter most. I prefer to deal with people I know and have met. We are very fortunate in our business that we work with families and folks devoted to the shared values of hand made and artisan, organic and holistic. We source from all over the global garden. We also value the profound knowledge of indigenous cultures. Traditional cultures and their regional remedies are often overlooked sources of wisdom. Traditional cultural remedies represent many generations of experience and knowledge of the natural world. This ancient knowledge is imbued with both simplicity and meaning, and I love learning about their historical context. I enjoy connecting with women who know the deep truths of the land on which they live. They exhibit such a generosity of spirit when they share their knowledge of their ancestors. This is true whether it’s the women of Kperisi in Ghana or the Berber Amazigh women of Tiznit, in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. These women radiate the power, integrity and well-being of Place.

Meeting Urias in Mexico, 2007 - maker of evanhealy's clay bowls for the Clay Mask Kit. His sons and grandsons now work with him.

Meeting Urias in Mexico, 2007 - maker of evanhealy's clay bowls for the Clay Mask Kit. His sons and grandsons now work with him.

What does a typical day in the world of evanhealy skin care look like? What are your favorite daily aspects about what you do for a living?

I’m a creative person. I like variety. I don’t like to get up and do the same thing everyday. I'm not a nine-to-five person. I follow my energy cycles. In the morning I like to go outside almost immediately.

I do enjoy getting in to the office and talking to people. I enjoy their energy. More than anything else I appreciate the opportunity to exercise my creativity. I am our company’s Creative Director, so I am always scanning the horizon for new ideas, partnerships, products. Ultimately, it is the natural world from which I draw the most inspiration and value. In all settings, I work best in the moment, and often better alone. Those moments can often stretch out for months, or years! I like to take something that I’ve been tinkering with and give it life, take it to the next level. This takes time, and conversely, the process is also rather spontaneous. For me working with our nutritive oils, our various infused oils, nut and seed butters, sun dried clays, emulsions and hydrosols is an almost meditative experience. It deepens the connection to what I feel is best about myself. It both grounds me and expands me. I have been very fortunate in my life’s work.

I find the way ‘beauty’ is portrayed in the mainstream media rather shallow, and too perfectionistic. I have learned that, pared down to its essence, beauty lies in the cracks and crevices of our lives every minute of every day.

I love collaborating with our design and media team. I get inspiration from all avenues: photography, food and home-style blogs. I love picking up the camera myself. With or without a camera, I am constantly framing what I see, recording it, or making a mental note. I look for harmony, magical light and natural, unfussy beauty. I find it no matter where I am: in my backyard, on a trail, in a remote village, on the street, and of course, in the faces I see. During the years I spent in my skin care practice, I learned the valuable lesson of looking, observing and watching. All three of these actions convey the need to both soften the vision - while sharpening the focus. Attention to detail has always been my specialty!

Evan doing a summertime facial. 2016.

Evan doing a summertime facial. 2016.

Skin is constantly changing and evolving, reflecting thoughts and emotions, I find that fascinating. I am constantly looking to communicate a more authentic expression of beauty, in both word and image. I find the way ‘beauty’ is portrayed in the mainstream media rather shallow, and too perfectionistic. I have learned that, pared down to its essence, beauty lies in the cracks and crevices of our lives every minute of every day. The challenge these days is to slow down long enough to look and really see what’s there. When done right, it becomes a meditation. I love the idea that natural beauty is transitory and messy. Nature is not perfect, but it is enlightened. We place too high a value on perfection, and our nervous systems can’t handle this constant striving for perfection. All things are impermanent. The inherent lesson of our life is: learn to let go! Take a nap. Go for a walk. Take time to relax. Your adrenals will thank you. Expressed by the relative simplicity of our product range, we want to raise the conversation from one of a hyper focus on 'anti-aging' - to the appreciation of imperfection. The deeper truth behind our message is the fact that - who you are is enough.

Evan & David

Evan & David

You and your husband David work closely together to run evanhealy. As a (multi-generational) family-owned business ourselves, we'd love to learn how you balance the demands (and joys) of work life with your family life.

Oh yes! I struggle with balance every day. However, at this point, David and I have been collaborating for most of our twenty years together. It’s pretty seamless, it’s always rewarding, but yes, it’s not always easy. We like to remind each other of that analogy about stones in a tumbler, softening each other’s sharp edges. We’re pretty comfortable together, and with our business. It’s our life. It’s our child. And we are perfectly suited to it. We each exhibit the complimentary, but polar opposite of the other’s talent and skill. He’s organized and financial. I’m artistic and spontaneous. He works on Excel spread sheets. I scribble on thousands of post-its. We have taken the Yin and Yang thing to a whole new level. We have boundaries – day and night, work week and weekend – but they’re not strict. Neither of us are that good with boundaries. Ultimately, he is my most important relationship.

The never-ending barrage of internet ‘noise’ is so disruptive to our delicately balanced nervous system. It impedes access to the inner quiet life of our true self. To counter this we say: Slow down. Simplify.

Your products have a devoted following among our staff and customers - and not just because they are well-formulated and made with beautiful ingredients, but because they inspire a deeper sense of self-care. The word "ritual" always comes to mind: The daily ritual of slowing down, taking time for your skin, and therefore yourself. What are some of your favorite self-care rituals?

Evan:  Yes, I love the word ritual as it pertains to care of the skin. I like to ease into my morning. I get up and immediately go outside with bare feet on the grass, stretching or yoga, with a cup of hot lemon water, tea or coffee. I’m an introvert, so being quiet is my touchstone. I can only regenerate when I am alone and early morning is my time. I go from a sleep state to a slow, calm, natural state via our backyard. By standing under our ancient apple tree, I go within. And while I don’t mind getting up early, I don’t like to have to be somewhere, or for that matter, leave my house at all. I prefer to glide slowly into my day. As I get older, I notice my rhythms change. The stability of daily rituals matter more. They become deeper, slower and more infused with meaning.

A shell Evan uses for scooping clay, found on the beach of her childhood summer home in Scituate, MA, a place she feels a deep connection to. Her hands are also one of the main ways she connects with the world around her - both as an esthetician and as a healer.

A shell Evan uses for scooping clay, found on the beach of her childhood summer home in Scituate, MA, a place she feels a deep connection to. Her hands are also one of the main ways she connects with the world around her - both as an esthetician and as a healer.

Out of necessity, I’m driven to find what calms and relaxes me. I struggle, frankly, to get away from the internet. I do a lot of the writing, planning, and I find inspiration by scanning social media, but I don’t find it healthy to know what’s going on every minute of every day! You certainly don’t need to know I’ve just flossed my teeth, boiled an egg or blinked my eyes, for instance. A distortion of our natural rhythms results in an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system and all its attendant symptoms, such as higher cortisol. Adrenal depletion can often been seen in the area around the eyes. The never-ending barrage of internet ‘noise’ is so disruptive to our delicately balanced nervous system. It impedes access to the inner quiet life of our true self. To counter this we say: Slow down. Simplify.

I use our copper distilled plant Hydrosols and Facial Serums as remedies, not just for the skin but also to send a message to my spirit. Healers have to remain grounded in nature. It’s what connects us to our own inner physician. I love saturating my face with our Hydrosols, followed by massaging a few droplets of our Oil Serum (Blue Cactus Beauty Elixir is my idea of heaven these days!) into my skin. I use our Whipped Shea Butter, made with our own infused oils, to cure any and all skin ills.

Copper stills used in making the evanhealy Hydrosouls

Copper stills used in making the evanhealy Hydrosouls

The world has seemingly become more chaotic and our political scene ever more divisive. What people, books, media, or movements are inspiring you to keep going these days?

In my earlier years, and out of a need for answers, I spent years reading classics, philosophy and books about eastern religion. Books that encouraged my flights of imagination were often about women explorers such as Alexandra David-Neel, Gertrude Bell and Freya Stark. I was looking for answers to the age-old question of how do I live an authentic life? And for that matter, what is an authentic life? I was truly on a journey of self-discovery. My path took me to mystics and teachers like Joseph Campbell and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. My list of teachers and mentors is long and varied! There are so many sources of inspiration, and the search is always a deeply personal one.

Stepping outdoors for an afternoon walk in Big Sur.

Stepping outdoors for an afternoon walk in Big Sur.

These days, I am inspired by topics and books such as Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan. I loved the book In Praise of Shadows, by author Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. I have read and reread Leonard Koren’s books: Wabi Sabi – Further Thoughts, and his earlier book, Wabi Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers.

The books on Wabi Sabi share the profound and ultimate wisdom of finding true beauty in imperfection. Embracing the cycles and profundity of nature. It’s a beauty that is simple, slow and uncluttered. This is what makes the most sense to me.

The Buttery Goodness of Full Moon Ghee

By Vicki, Local Grocery Brands Coordinator

You may have been hearing the words “clarified butter” or ghee a lot recently. Since there has been an interest in more alternative medicine approaches other than our western way, people have started to look at Ayurveda for a way to feel better in life. Ayurveda is one of the most ancient healing systems in the world, developed by the sages of India thousands of years ago. Ayur means life, and veda means science or knowledge. So Ayurveda means the science or knowledge of life… who wouldn’t want to study the science of life?

Ghee is used in Ayurveda for balancing all constitutions in a person’s body. It is made from cooking butter at a very low heat for about 20 minutes or so, which removes the water in butter, and separates the milk solids and the fat from each other. Since the milk solids are removed, ghee is also safe for lactose intolerant individuals! YAY GHEE! There are numerous benefits to using ghee; improved digestion, better immune system, support for healthy levels of inflammation and just feeling like you are an awesome human being!

We'd like to introduce you to one of our favorite Ghee's in town -  Full Moon Ghee. We want to emphasize how important sourcing is, and how mindfulness is important when you are a creator AND a consumer. Full Moon Ghee is made as “an act of service to our community, our ancestors, and ourselves.” The butter comes from extremely happy cows in Lee, Massachusetts, and the ghee is made ONLY on the Full Moon (hence, the name!). Why? Read the interview to find out!

Introducing Hannah Jacobson, one of the founders of Full Moon Ghee - sharing her knowledge of life with us below.

When and how did you get the idea for Full Moon Ghee? What caused you to start making ghee? Were there any major events that led to the creation?

While studying yoga and Ayurveda at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, MA, I began using lots of ghee in my meals. For my 28th birthday, a dear friend gave me a home made jar of ghee and I devoured it with the awareness that it was pure medicine for the body, mind, and spirit. It wasn't until a couple of years later, when Daniel Rainwater moved to the area that we began making ghee for our friends. I attended a farmer's market for my herbal company, Sweet Birch Herbals, and had a feeling customers would eat it up! The dozen or so jars were gone within the first few hours and we knew people were hungry for healthy, local, delicious ghee. Full Moon Ghee was brought into the world in 2015 with the intention of producing the highest quality ghee made from local butter on the full moon. We infuse each batch of ghee with prayers for health, vitality, expansion, creativity, and peace.

What are your favorite health benefits of ghee? Why do you use ghee?

I use ghee because there are countless health benefits including aiding the digestive tract, increasing assimilation of nutrients, therefore boosting energy levels, lubricating the joints internally, cleansing the colon, cooling irritated mucous membranes, strengthening to the hair, skin, eyes, and it contributes to a healthy immune system. Ghee contains omega-3 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, along with vitamins A, D, E and K. Ghee made from the butter of pastured cows is one of the highest natural sources of CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid. It also has 9 phenolic antioxidants, as well as numerous other minerals. When I eat ghee daily, I generally feel more sustained energy throughout the day.

Why is it important to you to buy locally sourced organic products? Is organic important to you?

It is important to support the local food economy not only as a consumer, but also as a producer. The core value of Full Moon Ghee is to support local dairy farms by sourcing butter from them. I try to purchase mostly local and organic products as a consumer, however organic dairy can be challenging for small farms in New England when prices of feed are more than double for organic. The organic certification process can be cost prohibitive for small dairy farms, even if they are already following organic practices. That is why we source all of our butter from High Lawn Farm in Lee, MA, a farm we trust after visiting and speaking with the farmers. High Lawn Farm grows the hay and silage for their well cared for cows. The feeling I get when I'm at the farm is pure delight. We want that uplifting energy in our ghee.

How did you have the idea to only make the ghee on the Full Moon?

Ghee is traditionally made on the waxing moon according to ancient Ayurvedic texts. While traveling in India, I asked ghee producers, grandmothers, and farmers what the significance of the moon is on the ghee. They explained that when the moon is waxing, the grass is reaching upward toward the sky. The cows eat the grass full of minerals and waters of the Earth pulled by the moon, which inevitably transfers into the milk. This theory is similar the biodynamic methods of organic agriculture drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner in 1924. To make ghee from the butter of the cow on the waxing moon is special because it infuses that expansive energy into the holy oil, which we then consume, becoming part of our bodies. When I asked, "What if it's made on the full moon?" I always got the same answer: "Making ghee on the full moon is very auspicious."

Since you are making a product that is “energetic” in nature, what do you do when the energy in you, or around you, isn’t positive at the moment?

This is a great question because it raises even another question: "What is positive vs. negative?" In my attempts to raise the vibrations around me, I try to let go of the limiting dichotomies of "good" and bad." Instead, I welcome all the sensations, no part left out. As I learned in India, before making ghee, it is important to bathe and offering gratitude to the cows, the moon, the sun, the water, the fields, the farmers, and all the elements in nature which sustain us on Earth. The time around the Full Moon can often be emotionally challenging and we wonder why we chose this time to make ghee. However, I believe the moon chose us. She is our teacher. Every time we make ghee, even when we begin from a place of suffering, our moods shift because we are remembering that the transformation that takes place while making ghee is sacred. Rituals deepen our acceptance of ourselves. Our commitment to making ghee on the full moon is an act of service to our community, our ancestors, and ourselves.

In what other ways is the moon important to us? 

The Moon mirrors how the cycles of nature are within and around us all the time. We are not separate from nature. Healing takes root when we remember our innate connection to the source of all the elements: fire, water, earth, air, and wood.

Who has influenced you the most in your life?

My Mother and Father, for their steadfast commitment to unity, equality, and justice.

In what ways do you want to influence the world?

I want to reflect how deeply lovable each person is by simply being here on Earth. My offering is nourishing medicine made with intentions of healing, harmony, and peace.

Thank you Hannah for sharing your story and passion for mindfully made ghee with us! You can find Full Moon Ghee on our shelves in our healthy fats section. Just ask someone on staff to point you in the right direction!

 

This blog post — The Buttery Goodness of Full Moon Ghee — is for general health information only. This Web site is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. Users of this Web site should not rely on information provided on this Web site for their own health problems. Any questions regarding your own health should be addressed to your own physician or other healthcare provider.