Moss Botanicals

 
 

Subtle yet powerful. Refined but wild. Dynamic yet pure. These are words that come to mind when I think of Stacey Moss from Moss Botanicals, an aromatherapy line based out of Ojai. There is so much reverence for the land and for her native american ancestry, both of which inspire her to create. There are so many great companies out there, but certain ones speak to me. I was first drawn to stacey at the Malibu farmers market years ago. I ended up working with her at her booth, and I couldn’t help but be drawn to her earthly and grounded nature. She embodies the wise elder who respects the energies around her, and seeks to clear and promote healing. 

An important question I had for her was how to source oils ethically and sustainably. Stacey shares exactly what to look for and take on that challenging road. As consumers, all we see is the finished product, website, instagram feed, etc. But, what I have learned from working on the back end of companies is that there is so much more going on than we can even imagine. I haven’t spent much time out on the farms where much of these products are sourced, but that is the arena that interests me most, because it the place that is most hidden from us. Stacey is proud of her extensive search for the best ingredients, and you can immediately sense it with Moss Botanicals.

Q&A with Stacey Moss of Moss Botanicals

{all images by Mariana Schulze}

Q: What is Moss Botanicals and why did you start it?

A: Moss Botanicals is a company that started in 2007, but the inspiration and passion for this venture was many years prior.  As a young person in my late teens early 20’s I was on a journey with no awareness of the travel itinerary symbolically speaking. I was in the search of truth.  It started with the desire to understand my heritage. As a young person there were many things that shaped me and my fortitude and the affinity for the land. I owe that to the drop of native blood that runs through my veins originating in my Lakota grandmother and Yaqui grandfather on my maternal side, as well as the cattle herding ranchers, garden growing, farm to table mother long before it was even coined a term and to the deep love of the ocean that came from growing up really young with my father as a sea lion trainer at the SD Zoo. I was sensitive to everything I touched and felt that even the inanimate objects had feelings, which now I know, they have energy and that is why as a child the vibrations of all things made sense to me. 

The calling of healing came in the form of massage where I exceled and have given thousands of bodywork sessions incorporating my spirit teachings, my own athleticism awareness to the body, its function, and its injuries. Also to the beauty of art and emotion in holding onto and letting go of what serves us.  Through my education both formal and in life, I am still learning about my gifts to give in this world. I don’t feel I have ever done anything other than learn from each of my experiences with all that I do and I hold the mirror and the shadow for others.  Moss Botanicals is founded on inspiring others on their healing journey to empower people to heal themselves, but to intuitively seek what is right for them. The power of aromatherapy is the platform for this understanding.  The sense of smell is the most powerful and it is linked to the limbic system of the brain where we create and store emotions. Every moment we are making decisions in our environment based on the aroma.  Odors are unconsciously linked to a majority of how we perceive things, what we eat, whom we are attracted to and how we feel about ourselves.  Moss Botanicals makes blends that empower people by working with the power of smell consciously.  The intention for helping others heal is a universal call to action. 

Q: What was your process for creating new scents? How do you know when it’s done?

A: The original line of MB was started out of my own personal need for healing. I was going through aromatherapy school and we had various outcomes for the essential oil profiles we were studying at the time.  Balance was my first blend that seemed to have significant feedback when I shared it with others and it really was the first teacher in my methodology that would come to be my own process for blending.  When I blend I take into consideration many things.

Giving honor to the plant kingdom and asking for guidance is the beginning.  Where do these plants or essential oils come from, who is tending them, harvesting, and distilling these precious oils? How far have they traveled to make it to me? Plants make incredible journeys and they contain information about the earth and the natural order of things. Years of working with essential oils and plants have provided me with a foundation for blending intelligently. If I am going to make a blend that is focused on balance then I am meditating on how each essential oil going to synergize to with one another for balance of the mind, body, spirit, and earth.  The harmony of the blend is lyrical in its creation. Essential oils are vibratory and song-like with their notes. I listen to hear how many drops with my nose and an open heart. I trust in my process. I have become accustomed to a sensory wash that happens to my body when I know a blend is finished. 

Q: Who or what inspires you?

A: Mother nature inspires me the most because she is so resilient and forgiving for all that we put her through. She is my teacher, my healer and my devotion. In my early 20’s I became very close to a woman that showed me herbalism through growing and harvesting and utilizing herbs in medicine and in her magnificent backyard bath. She was also instrumental as a teacher in the native traditions. I drove with her several times to South Dakota to participate in ceremony. This was a non-glamorous and humbling experience every time leaving me introspective and moved by the ancestors and the sacred ways of the people. I derive great inspiration for my life in this way and the opportunity I had relative to a time in my life that I feel poignant in relationship to the present, in a linear context. Inspiration is everywhere and like most I am also inspired by Culture, Art, Music, and Food- sight, sound, taste, touch the combined sensory experience inspires. In college I studied the Maya in Guatemala and their healing traditions. They believe that they originated from corn. Plants are infused in their daily life for ritual and utilized by curanderos to perform limpias espirituales (cleanings of the spirit) in the indigenous population. The ability to promote perception and to facilitate shifts is inspiration.

How do you ethically source your ingredients? What does that looks like? I do not give my sources out for proprietary reasons although I am happy to share information on how to ethically source essential oils. I buy only organic and wild-crafted essential oils that provide GCMS (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) analysis reports.  This allows the person buying to see the amounts of chemical constituents that are present in the oil. While odorless solvents can go undetected in this process, there are ways to ensure that your essential oils are not adulterated.  Companies that understand purity also understand sustainability and are willing to answer the hard questions.  Many essential oils are endangered.  If a company is selling those essential oils you can expect they are probably not in line with resource management ethics. 

Q: What is aromatherapy and how to you incorporate it into your line?

A: There are many ways to define aromatherapy. Simply-aromatherapy is the art and science of using pure grade essential oils for wellness. Moss Botanicals utilizes pure grade essential oils into all of its products for both therapeutic and cosmetic purposes.  I call them beautiful healing aromas because they are just that “Aromas that Heal.”  Moss Botanicals creates a 4oz mist that can be sprayed directly on the face and body or in the atmosphere and a 10ml body roll-on in organic jojoba oil that can be worn as a natural body aroma, for anointing purposes with meditation and ritual, or for healing areas of dis-ease or discomfort.  I believe one of the best ways to use MB is with daily affirmations as the aromas are then associated with a conscious/subconscious cue in the brain and reinforce that which the person is affirming.

Q: Walk us through a day in your life?

A: My daily life..ha! ha! that can be challenging. Monday-Friday its up at 6:30 and morning routine with my 11 year old and getting her to school.  After I drop her off it could be anything from checking the surf for a quick session, watering my garden, or taking the dog on a hike.  In Ojai, the Los Padres National Forest surrounds us where nature exists out every window in every direction. My boyfriend manages a pixie and avocado orchard that we live on and I am fortunate to be able to wander the hills most days and contemplate my role in this existence, which I do quite frequently.  Most of the time these walks are the inspiration that fuels the rest of the day and MB. When I get back I usually find a rhythm on the long list of never ending business owner responsibilities.  It really just depends on what is being prioritized.  Fulfilling orders for Thrive Market or gathering some beautiful flowers for an online customer’s package.  I will go days formulating a new scent and become encapsulated with just that. It is an interesting life in the sense that I am not conventional at all. The structure of life I lead is due to the fact that I have a child and a commitment to her, my partner, and my company.  We are all working to deprogram daily and to allow the flow to happen. At 2:30, I stop MB and pick up my daughter from school and get ready for the after school transition of gymnastic practice, theater, or play dates. 

Moss Botanicals never stops because I am able to check on orders in town, work from my phone, and gather up more creative juice from the amazing people and support in my community. It sounds perfect on paper and when I read this I think ‘yes ‘ it really is a great life. However, my heart lies in the suffering of humans, animals, and the earth and how I can make a difference in that suffering. It hurts and it challenges my abilities and capabilities sometimes to the point of being paralyzed for not being grateful enough or doing enough. I have a lot of healing to do and I know I am the owner and creator of these products for me and for those like me who get caught up in the web only to find out they spun themselves into their own imprisonment.  My way out is through the journey of self belief, vulnerability, and trust with the aromas leading the way. The end of the day is a wind-down of cooking and music and stories around the dinner table.  My daughter is at a pinnacle time in her maturity so Shawn and I have so much fun listening to her talk about coming of age things, trying to get her to help with dishes, or put the chickens away. 

Q: What makes for a super life?

A: Gratitude, love, health, and balance are the way to a super-life.

The key component for me is to live a life full of gratitude. Give to others, take care of myself, love my family and all of my relations, and eat healthy food, exercise, and see the world however I can. Be fluid. In the flow I am forever changing.

 

 

Alexa Gray