We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexis Poce and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexis, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
I think one of the most hidden aspects of product production is the number of wheels that have to turn absolutely smoothly to get a marketable product out on the shelves. Most consumers, myself included until I begin this adventure, don’t tend to spend much time considering the events that had to take place before we are able to select a perfect, shiny apple from the grocery store, or a bottle of custom formulated lotion to help our dry, desert skin.
We show up, peruse the brightly packaged items, maybe read an ingredient label, then head to the cashier, happy with our new additions. But how the products arrived so shiny and perfect, ready to be taken home, is a journey not often considered. Herbalism and natural skincare are based on plants, which have to be grown and nurtured before there’s even a possibility of being turned into a tea blend or luxurious face oil. I have so much respect for farmers. They deal with elements, the challenges of organic farming, harvesting, drying, and transport, all so I can have a bag of beautiful, golden chamomile. From seed to sprout, plant to harvest, and distribution to herbalists like me, requires a tremendous amount of energy and effort, from many, many hands. By the time the herbs reach my door, their journey is only partially complete.
The torch is then passed to me to figure out the best way to utilize each plant. There’s a tremendous amount of research involved on the solubility of constituents, benefits, drawbacks, longevity, safety, utilization, aroma, and overall appeal. Turning plants into functional tea and skincare can take months of research, trial, and lots of error…so much error. Herbs need to infuse, stability must to be tested, friends are solicited to sample and experiment, and at the end of it all, only the most perfect products make the cut. After development comes packaging and labeling, both rife with their own challenges, and then finally, what started as an idea in a notebook or a scribble on a napkin, has come to fruition and is ready for the public. Now, shake it all off and start again with a new product idea!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
While it sounds like an anecdote told during a motivational speech on entrepreneurial endeavors, my career origin is genuinely a tale of “hobby turned business adventure”. I’ve long known I had a passion for herbs and natural product development, but it took several years to realize I could form my ideas into a tangible career.
The seed began to germinate when I was very young. As a small child I was obsessed with bar soap, I had a collection, in fact. Toting the colorful bars around in a pillowcase and then laying them out to smell and admire invoked a joy beyond words. I was enchanted with smells. From my soap infatuation blossomed a fascination with shampoo and body care products, and then ingredients they were comprised of. I fastidiously poured over ingredient labels, wading through seas of chemicals and laboratory created representations of nature, slowly realizing how immune we’ve become to the inundation of artificial chemical invaders that have made their way into our everyday lives. As my skincare label analysis spilled over into food labels, each laden with an indigestible list of impossible to pronounce contents, the chemical weight of what we consume became my obsession.
During this same time, pharmaceutical companies were simultaneously rooting ever deeper into mainstream use and dependence, and when married to the processed food industry, created an environment that was getting and keeping people sick, right under their heavily perfumed noses. Plant medicine and natural products were, and to some degree still are, often seen as being reserved for tie-dye clad peace protestors, or cave dwelling shamen from unreachable corners of the world. Herbal medicine, which was actually the first medicine ever utilized by humans, is seen as “alternative” or “new age” and brushed aside as the remnants of a time before science and laboratories provided for our needs. But even with all of our brightly colored pills, heavily manufactured and fortified diets, chemicals to rid our homes and bodies of any trace of a germ, humans are arguably getting sicker.
I believe that there’s a relationship where Western Medicine and Herbalism come together to create a union that can address most, if not all, of what ails us, and it became my goal to facilitate that union.
My company was conceived of a desire to create something centered on a renaissance of plant medicines and ingredients that our bodies have evolved with symbiotically, while still taking into consideration the quantifiable research that science can bestow. In addition to over two decades of self-study, I returned to school and obtained a Master’s Degree in Therapeutic Herbalism and spent more than two years backpacking around the world studying plants and the traditional remedies of indigenous cultures. I concocted formulas, developed products, and soon found myself with a range of pure, organic, nourishing products that addressed an array of physical and emotional needs. And then, The Herbology Shop was born.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend were visiting, I’d start with a walking tour of downtown Phoenix, as that’s where I live. We’d visit the Lacuna Kava Bar and relax with a cup of calm, then have dinner at Carly’s Bistro on Roosevelt. It was one of the first places I frequented after moving to Arizona 14 years ago. The staff is fantastic, setting is local-bistro cozy, and they continue to offer my favorite salad, year after year – for which I am eternally grateful. Just down the street, we could swing in for a cult classic at Filmbar, walk to Stand Up Live for a comedy show, or pool our knowledge for trivia night at Valley Bar.
The next morning would require a trip up North. Camping in Bear Canyon or a kayaking adventure at Blue Ridge Reservoir are much appreciated days off, which also provide an opportunity to wildcraft local plants such as mullein, chaparral, or if you’re far enough north, usnea. Sedona would likely come next. We’d collect water from the Oak Creek Well and take pictures of the magnificent red dirt and topography, then enjoy a beer from one of the local breweries.
If South was our preferred direction, I’d take my friend to BioSphere 2 in Tucson. I had lived here nearly a decade before ever hearing of its existence and was completely floored on my first trip. A walk through the sci-fi structure would definitely be on my top 5 list for a tourist.
On the weekend, we’d swing through the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, grab some fresh veggies, chat with the vendors, and a enjoy a pomegranate tea. If it’s summertime, we’d head for my secret indulgence – the water park. While it may seem juvenile, I attest that sailing down a chilly and adrenaline inducing slide in the middle of a 115 degree day is ageless pastime.
Phoenix has many local gems and new attractions are popping up every day, particularly downtown. I’ve had the privilege of watching the city really start to find its groove over the last 10 years or so, and it has been a wonderful place to call home.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
While on the surface it may seem like a cliché platitude, I have experienced the notion of “it’s all in who you know”, on so many levels during this process that it rings bell tower true. My friends, family, and the connections I’ve made while building my business have shaped and guided me in an immeasurable number of unpredictable ways. Friends nod compassionately and listen to me drone on and on about a logo or label for the one thousandth time, customers provide invaluable feedback and support – cheering me on through every hurdle, my dad helps me make spreadsheets and asks about my day after every market, and fellow entrepreneurs share their journeys and struggles and remind me that I’m not alone on my island. Whether they know it or not, I lean and rely on a continuously expanding quilt of people. All. The. Time. There isn’t just one person, book, or mentor, there are dozens. It takes a village to raise a business, too.
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