When I first moved to the Bay Area a few years ago, Homestead Apothecary in Oakland was one of the very first places I visited, and Nic, a certified community herbalist and Homestead Apothecary's founder + proprietor, was one of the very first people I met. I was in need of stress relieving tea + some major immune support, and happened to be on an exploring mission when I luckily wandered into his herbal healing gem in Temescal Alley. He had just recently opened and was excited to see how the community would receive his new shop. I was immediately entranced by the walls of gorgeous dried herbs + locally made tinctures. Row after row of healing heaven. Just a short couple of years later and Homestead Apothecary is the East Bay's, and rest of the country for that matter, go-to spot for healing + wellness guidance, herbal education, and amazing classes + workshops rooted in utilizing native plants and how to best use them for medicinal use at home. Some recent offerings include Plant Dyeing, Ghee Making, Botanical Skin Infusions, Tarot Reading, and pairing Herbalism with Astrology. Nic has also created a signature line of tinctures + essences that are all handmade using local plants sourced from organic farms in the area. The High Priestess, with essential oils of Wild Scotch Pine, Lavender, + Gem Essences of Lapis Lazuli + Iolite, is a personal favorite of mine for energy clearing, deepening my meditation practice, + opening up my third eye. And I've been using his Vitex Tincture for a few months now to support my hormones with excellent results.
I invite you to learn a bit more about Nic and his inspiring + healing world.
SHARE WITH US A BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY IN BRINGING HOMESTEAD APOTHECARY TO FRUITION.
In 2010 my partner and I moved to Western Mass so she could get her masters in public health and I had a huge healing crisis. I gave up coffee and all caffeine and I realized that something was really wrong with me. No matter how much I rested I could not get out of bed and my brain functioning was really poorly. I was forgetting words and couldn't perform basic tasks. This is an extreme case of what I think many people are going through in this culture. I went to western doctors and they had no answers for me. Actually that's not true, after 2 years of being in Massachusetts they told me that I had jetlag. What a joke!
So, I went to a naturopathic doctor for a diagnosis which was Adrenal Fatigue. I think the western doctors call this chronic fatigue syndrome but I had to heal myself because it is very expensive to pay for health care out of pocket and naturopathic doctors are not covered by insurance. I was so moved by my experience that I committed myself to the plants and being the person who facilitates them reaching people in a myriad of different forms from tea to tincture to living beings for the garden to information about their uses in our zines and much more.
It has been an incredible journey and I am excited to see where it leads me. I feel like the shop has a life force all its own that is the combined energy of the folks that work there, our amazing customers both local and from all over the country and beyond, the teachers who share their wisdom with us via our workshop program, all of the individual makers of the fine products we carry and of course the plants, which in turn means all of our farmers and the different places that they grow in.
WERE YOU INTRODUCED TO HOLISTIC LIVING + WELLNESS AT A YOUNG AGE OR COME ACROSS IT LATER IN LIFE?
I always knew about this lifestyle because my grandfather is one of the old hippie yoga nature guys that lives in Topanga Canyon. I mean, he kills squirrels in his back yard for meat and grows most of his own food and has been doing this for decades. He also lives in a tiny house out of financial necessity and spends most of his time hiking in the woods and can show you some of the most magical spots you can imagine. But my parents were baby boomers and my mom in particular really wanted to go in the opposite direction than her dad because that lifestyle, especially in the 70's, had another side to it which is drugs, abuse, neglect and misogyny. So I was never exposed to it but it was in my blood and when I found it on my own I connected to it and then when I had my own healing crisis and lived in the woods the connection deepened and now my life resolves around the plants and making them accessible to other folks. Also, you asked about wellness and I think I am still deeply exploring what that means to me as an individual and in my relationships with the people around me. This is my life's work.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE HERBAL REMEDY FOR EASING STRESS + ANXIETY?
My Stress Less formula! It has really saved my life and I have heard that from many of my customers as well. It has Nettles which help replace some of the vitamins and minerals that you lose when you are under stress, Milky Oat Tops which are a tonic for the nervous system, Skullcap which really immediately calms the nervous system and of course my favorite plant ever the amazing adaptogen Holy Basil or Tulsi, which manages your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone your body produces when you are under stress so its really important to keep this regulated.
WHAT DAILY RITUALS ARE NON-NEGOTIABLES FOR YOU TO HELP KEEP YOU BALANCED + CENTERED?
Taking a shower! That is imperative for me to start my day. There is something about getting clean that wakes me up and makes me feel so refreshed. I also spend about 10 - 20 minutes doing my own weird form of meditation. And finally engaging in nature in some way, even if its watering my plants.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Wow, this is an intense question! I would wake up next to my partner and our dogs would magically want to sleep in that day and we could stay in bed reading and connecting and then get up and make a big breakfast and then take the dogs on a walk in the woods and then spend some time in water and have a picnic. Then I would hang out with my nephews for a little while, ride my bike and then get a massage or acupuncture and then eat sushi and then sit in a hot tub and drink some really nice whiskey by a fireplace.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL BREAKFAST? LUNCH? DINNER? SNACK?
I'm not going to lie, I am really not great about eating. Its not always on my radar but I know how important it is and when I can stop and really take a break to eat I love doing it and feel better.
BREAKFAST :: Typical breakfast is greek yogurt and granola or eggs and greens.
LUNCH :: is the meal I'm worst about because I am so busy with running the business, our wholesale line, online store, making everything with my wonderful assistant, and part of the year growing everything in the nursery. But I know that it is critical for me to eat so I usually have a little mini picnic and just eat snacks like cheese and crackers and turkey slices and olives and a pickle and fruit.
DINNER :: is the meal where I always eat well because I am so lucky to have a wonderful partner who loves to cook so at the beginning of the week she has me pick out what I want to eat that week from cook books or Sunset magazine and we shop for everything and then make a list for the week of which meal goes on which day and then she makes them and all I have to do is the dishes and clean the kitchen! Pretty lucky!
SNACKS :: for snacks I have a weird addiction to string cheese! But you can also find me snacking on seaweed or hummus and carrots.
Oh, I am so hung up on REBBL's Reishi chocolate superfood drink. I cannot stop drinking that thing and it is for sure a luxury! I also really like Dr Kefirs sparkling probiotic drinks!
WHERE IS/ARE YOU MOST FAVORITE PLACE/S TO BE ON THIS EARTH?
I've actually traveled quite a bit and honestly the places that I've felt the most home is Occidental, CA and Whately, MA. I don't know what it is about those spots but they just resonate with my frequency so to speak.
WHAT PROFESSIONAL BEAUTY | FITNESS | HEALTH GURUS INSPIRE YOU?
HA! This is not my world! I couldnt even identify someone for you. But I think that anyone who is checked into their body and listens to their guiding voice and not the messages being fed through a culture that is profiting off insecurity is a hero!
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE MANTRA?
I don't! I do have a lot of sayings in my head that I'm sure come from my family of origin. Like, "That's life". Those help me to remember that I'm part of something that everyone goes through and not just in this struggle alone. My grandma who I have a photo of on my desk in the shop would always say that wonderful old adage, "This too shall pass". I think that's powerful to remember.
WHAT IS THE LATEST BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?
I'm always sort of reading several books at once but never two of the same genre. So, right now I'm reading:
- the newest book in the Saga series by Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples
- Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon
- Holistic Anatomy by Pip Waller
- The Brewers Tale by William Bostwick
- and a book of poetry by Hafiz.
SHARE WITH US 3 SONGS ON YOUR CURRENT PLAYLIST.
I've been pretty obsessively listening to the live spotify sessions with D'Angelo lately. It is so amazing and I wish I could have seen him play live when he was in Oakland! Other than that I usually listen to older stuff like Norman Greenbaum, Esther Phillips, Wendy James but I also like some new stuff like Horse Feathers, Cocorosie, Feist or Little Dragon.