Around these parts, we like to learn about and from people who are running their own businesses – business we love and admire often happen to be run by some very resourceful and badass women. In this edition of mind your business, we talk to Marble & Milkweed‘s Briar Winters—based in New York, Briar hand-makes a gorgeous line of skin care products, oils, and perfumes with the care and attention to detail many larger organizations can only dream of. Her dreamy, tea-filled blog and divine products are my everything, so I had to track her down and ask her about her business. Read on, and then go buy some of her incredible cardamom butter.
milieu: Tell us about your background and how you decided that this was the right career/life path for you?
Briar: I’d been working as a pastry chef in New York City for almost a decade, when I began the process of building what would become Marble & Milkweed. At its heart, the work that I do now aspires to help people make more conscious choices about how they care for themselves and our planet. The path I’m on is still evolving, but wherever it goes, living in harmony with nature and encouraging others to do the same will be the top priority.
m: When you decided to start your own company, what steps did you take?
B: All of us currently working in this field owe an enormous debt to all of the plant healers, both recognized and unknown (so many of them women), who have carried the healing knowledge of plants forward to us here in this moment. The precision and attention to detail required to create my products come from my time in the pastry kitchen, and I’ve done a lot of reading and research in the course of developing my products and beginning my business. I also feel so fortunate to be part of a network of creative women business owners that are both supportive and wise.
m: Your products are natural, beautifully fragranced, and healthy. Talk about where your inspiration comes from and why the small-batch, natural element is important to you.
B: The deepest source of inspiration for Marble & Milkweed comes from nature and from the traditions that honor the earth and our connection to it. I think that working by hand on a small scale is the only natural way to work. It shows respect for the materials and respect for the pace and the attention of the maker. I do not use synthetic additives of any kind, and my raw materials are sourced carefully and cultivated without pesticides and other contaminants because doing so respects the earth, the people who grow and process the material, the product maker, and the people who use my products.
m: Do you make all your products yourself?
B: I run Marble & Milkweed entirely by myself, from start to finish. From the beginning, I have personally crafted each item by hand, and I want it to stay that way.
m: What is the most rewarding part of running your own business?
B: The most rewarding part of having my own business is being able to share the beautiful gifts of the earth with my clients, to bring them into contact with nature, even if they live in the middle of a bustling city, as I do. I am also so thankful to be able to honor the rhythms of my own creative process and to be able to steer my own boat, in many ways.
m: What is the most challenging part?
B: There are certain paperwork-related tasks that are tedious, but crucial to the success of a small business. I’ve had to educate myself in these areas, and do as much as I can, then know when to pass things (like taxes!) off to a professional.
m: You work out of a Tribeca loft (what a dream!) and offer appointment-only visits. What are these like? Can you customize products?
B: I always enjoy having clients come by the studio, it’s so nice to be able to put faces and names together and to get to know my customers. Many people also love being able to smell before they buy, and it’s nice to be able to offer that opportunity. I do a bit of custom work when time allows, but my production schedule generally keeps me quite busy.
m: Any plans for expansion? New products on the horizon?
B: Many new projects are coming up in the next few months. My fourth botanical fragrance, a fresh green scent for spring will be coming out very soon, and our seasonal sampler kit for spring will be also be released shortly. I love keeping my offerings in tune with the seasons. I’m also in the process of reformulating my Repair Balm into a more versatile balm brimming with flower essences and oils that can also be used as a cleansing balm. Stay tuned!