“As I scaled my business up, I committed myself to the highest level of sustainability I could imagine: organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, zero waste and plastic-free packaging, and giving back to an environmental cause. ”
— THEORA JACKSON
Blue Heron Botanicals is a sustainable and ethically-conscious skin care brand that strives to make a positive impact on the planet while providing products made from high-quality natural ingredients. Some of the brand’s popular products include balms, salves, and lip therapy. Not only is Blue Heron’s packaging pretty, but it is also plastic-free and features eco-tubes that are 100% biodegradable and home compostable. We caught up with founder Theora Jackson to learn more about the story behind Blue Heron Botanicals and some of the steps the brand is taking to honor nature.
Can you share a little about your background and what inspired you to launch your collection?
Blue Heron Botanicals is the passion project born to me while I lived on the Lake Champlain Islands of Vermont. Growing up in a quaint island town nestled between the Adirondack Mountains of New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont, I learned the importance of responsible and sustainable living at a young age.
While studying plant and soil science at the University of Vermont, I received an incredible opportunity to intern with a local Burlington-based herbalist. During my internship. I focused my studies on herbs for skin care and began to create small batch salves and balms, gravitating towards these types of products to fill a need for a remedy to the harsh conditions to which our skin was seasonally subjected.
During this internship, I conceived the recipe for my landmark product Wound Warrior, and the seed of my redwood-sized dream of a sustainable beauty brand was planted. Inspired by the life and teachings of renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, I knew that a journey westward was my destiny. As a young herbalist in training, the Pacific Northwest called strongly to me and is ultimately where I found my truth and settled into my identity as a healer, practicing massage therapy, yoga, and herbalism.
I found a home for my products at local farmers markets, craft fairs, and festivals, and in the spring of 2015, decided I wanted to turn my side hustle into a viable business. As I watched the beauty and wellness market around me become saturated with so-called “natural, clean and green” products, I was inspired to create something different and authentic. During that time, I had also become hyper aware of the plastic pollution problem (hello Great Pacific Garbage Patch!) and the dichotomy between these “green” products and their packaging. As I scaled my business up, I committed myself to the highest level of sustainability I could imagine: organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, zero waste, and plastic-free packaging, and giving back to an environmental cause.
Do you have a signature product or a favorite?
Balms are where it’s at for Blue Heron Botanicals. Currently, I have five varieties of lip balm and will soon be releasing a sixth that is vegan and unscented for those with sensitive skin. I also offer a couple of skin-healing herbal balms. The Tinted Lip Therapy is our best seller, closely followed by Herbal Lip Therapy. These lip balms are both solar-infused with botanical herbs to impart color (tinted) and healing properties (herbal), and part of what makes them so effective and good for your lips. Wound Warrior is also a longtime favorite as a skin-soothing multitasker and smells amazing.
How do you source the ingredients in your products and do you consider your products to be “clean” beauty?
All of our products are safe, effective, and made with fresh, high-quality ingredients derived from nature. They are created using time-honored traditional methods of making herbal medicine. Our ingredients are chosen specifically for their natural healing qualities, as well as being minimally processed and are all locally sourced, certified organic, fair trade certified, sustainably wild harvested, and/or grown in our own garden.
We highlight and source regional ingredientstocreate the foundation of our products. We start looking in Northern California and work our way out. Ingredients such as sweet orange, grapefruit, lemon, lavender, and mint essential oils, extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil, and beeswax are all sourced within the state. By focusing on ingredients that are produced within the United States, we are greatly reducing our carbon footprint and supporting our local economy.
I absolutely consider our products to be “clean.” Most of the ingredients we use are whole plant botanicals that are minimally processed. There is no need for harsh preservatives or emulsifiers as we do not make any products that contain water. We only need natural preservatives such as vitamin E, rosemary extract, and essential oils to keep our products fresh and recommend they be used within two years.
We believe in transparency and have all ingredients clearly listed on our website along with their origin and a brief description of healing qualities on our botanicals page.
What steps does your brand take towards being sustainably conscious?
Our products have always been made with reverence for planet Earth and all of its inhabitants.
Blue Heron Botanicals strives to reduce our impact on the earth while positively impacting our community by creating wellness products that are good for your body and the planet.
As mentioned previously, we highlight and source local ingredients to create the foundation of our products. Utilizing the highest-quality organic, fair trade, and sustainably wild-harvested ingredients ensures all of our raw materials are grown and hand picked with care, thus providing the most potent healing qualities a plant can offer.
All of our packaging is 100% home compostable and recyclable. Our innovative tubes replace the commonly used plastic lip balm tubes and salve tins. This makes our Lip Therapies and Healing Herbal Balms zero waste products!
We are powered by renewable energy. Our main office is off-grid and 100% powered by solar energy. We respect our natural resources and use as little power and water as possible while creating our products. This means that all of our herbal infused oils are solar-infused. A slow, time-honored method of extracting the medicinal properties from herbs; never cooked on a stove top or in a crock pot.
Lastly, we are committed to waste reduction, using only what is necessary for packing and shipping. We use 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and FSC sustainably-sourced wood for all of our displays, packaging, business cards, and other paper needs.
Every decision that is made from sourcing to shipping is done with sustainability in mind.
How is the brand involved with sea turtle conservation?
Environmental conservation is built into our business philosophy. We are a proud sponsor of the Billion Baby Sea Turtles initiative through SEE Turtles. Every product we sell helps save one baby sea turtle hatchling. This giving model ensures we always give back regardless of company profits. The Billion Baby Turtles program helps protect important nesting beaches around the world, ensuring that the hatchlings make it to the water. To date, the program has helped save more than 3 million hatchlings at more than 30 important nesting beaches around the world.
Are there any other sustainable brands or founders that have inspired you?
As a lip balm brand, Roxanne Quimby of Burt’s Bees has always been an inspiration. I grew up on the East Coast, so Burt’s was big there early on. She put natural lip balm on the map and now it’s the best-selling brand of lip balm in the world! Her story is incredible and she is using her financial success to give back with her land conservation efforts. More recently, Tiila Abbitt of Aether Beauty and Ericka Rodriguez of Axiology have both done amazing things by bringing the concept of sustainability in products and packaging to the forefront of the beauty industry. Both have a strong commitment to sustainability and are working hard to create change within the industry.
Get a good night’s sleep. Your body absolutely needs that time to rest and restore.
Favorite ways to relax?
My favorite free ways are long hot baths or getting out for some fresh air at the beach or in the woods. If it’s in my budget, nothing beats a good massage or facial.
Get your sleep and do things in your own time. All too often we can get caught up in comparison and achieving goals within certain time frames. Life is a trip; you never know what will come along and it’s important to be kind to yourself and understand your journey is uniquely yours and life is unfolding exactly as it is meant to. Balance is so important, so make sure you are allowing time for self-care and to connect with those you love.
Where can people find you on social media?
[Images courtesy of Blue Heron Botanicals]
Lizzy Sherman is an award-winning digital content writer/editor. She has been a featured guest speaker at Cal State University Northridge, Digital LA and The National Association of Audience Marketing Professionals. When she’s not writing, Lizzy enjoys yoga and playing guitar.