A new year, a new decade, a fresh start for things ahead, and a beautiful time to pause and reflect on all the footsteps, tumbles, leaps, and plunges into the unknown that brought us here.
Gathered and Grown began in our tiny kitchen around 4 years ago, and sometimes when I do take the time to stop and consider all that has changed, grown, evolved and come to be since then I am truly blown away. I dipped my toes into this business as an experiment; I wanted to test the entrepreneurial waters that were beckoning me to wade in. I wanted flex and exercise new creative, problem-solving muscles in my brain. I wanted a way to help others to find themselves in nature, and to feel really, really good in their bodies.
Thanks to the love and support of SO many, I have learned and grown more than I could have ever imagined. And I am building a business that I am proud of, striving to keep integrity, humility, and sustainability at the core of each decision and consideration.
The end of the last decade saw new lessons learned, fears faced, wins celebrated, and dreams come into view. Here are a few favorite moments of the last year:
(Cleaning up Wrangell's Volunteer Park at the 2019 Helping Our Parks event. Photo by Vincent Balansag)
The Community Giveback Program: 2019 saw the official launch of our community giveback program. This program builds philanthropy directly into our business model, allowing us to give more back to our community as our business grows. Our community giveback program contributes 2% of profits each quarter to Wrangell’s Parks and Recreation Department. These donated funds support two local programs throughout the year: the Helping Our Parks program, and a scholarship fund for community recreation programs. These programs offered by our local P&R Department align with G&G’s core mission to connect our community more deeply with nature. The community giveback program allows us to invest in our community’s parks, trails, and green spaces, as well as support community access to outdoor programming. Since the launch of our program this year we’ve proudly contributed $1,000 to these local efforts.
Steps toward sustainability: After many months of research, testing, pricing, and sourcing this year we finally made the switch from plastic tubes to biodegradable paperboard tubes for our lip & body balms! This may seem like a small detail, but G&G is firmly committed to phasing out as much plastic use as possible to lessen our impact on the environment. Even more thrilling than making the change this year has been receiving all of your comments and feedback favoring the switch. It’s evident that sustainability is high in your minds as well, and I’m committed to continuing to search for ways of treading softly on our earthly home while bringing safe, effective, and beautifully functional body care from Alaska’s wildest corners.
A year of adventure: In 2019 I strove to prioritize time spent outdoors, exploring the big, beautiful back yard that is Southeast Alaska. This required some planning, establishment of systems, and saying no to some things (like maintaining a clean living space throughout the summer…), but the rewards were so worth it every time. Adventure highlights this year included a snowy backpacking hike to a cozy cabin followed by an epic 4-mile sled-ride down, a spring backcountry paddleboard trip, day hikes and regular dips into the frigid ocean, 10 days paddling the western coast of Prince of Wales Island, a serene all-female moose hunt, choruses of wolves howling into the night, brown bear and her babes huffing down the beach, swimming moose, and all the moments, big and small, of wonder and magic found exploring this wild and beautiful place. Time spent outdoors never fails to be a greater teacher and reminder to center around life’s simplest joys.
A year of growth: Behind the scenes 2019 brought a great deal of learning and deep, intentional growth for both Gathered and Grown as a business and myself as an entrepreneur. I enrolled in courses to become a better formulator of skin and body care products. I completed courses and coaching to become a better business owner. I spent months digging in deep to the foundation and core values of the business I wish to build and the impact I want it to have, and I emerged with a clear vision, strategy, and sparkling passion to bring my vision to life. More exciting info on this at the end of this post… In 2019 we hired our first employee to help run the retail storefront of our working studio, Shop Groundswell. I learned that asking for help is really difficult for me, but I practiced using that muscle this year and the shift was monumental. Our shop helper, Grace, allowed me to have the mental and physical space and time to prioritize and focus on all of the above mentioned highlights of this year! Our retail shop proudly served our community and visitors to Wrangell from around the world while supporting and sharing the work of nearly 50 artists and makers from Wrangell and across Alaska.
Looking ahead: Building on the growth, lessons, and positive momentum of the last year, I’m excited to share with you the culmination of last year’s work and learning. Gathered and Grown Botanicals will be undergoing some changes this year, changes that are BIG, but also right in line with who we've been all along. In the coming months G&G will get an entirely new look and feel…and even a new name! Our core mission, values, and drive to offer you experiential body care from Alaska’s wild nature will remain the same. You can still expect a commitment to sustainably sourcing local and wild-harvested ingredients to create products that love on your body and transport your senses to this magical landscape. Your favorite body care goods aren’t going away, they’re being made better and even more connected to this place. This next phase of G&G feels like a timely growth and an evolution, and I can’t wait to share all the good things that have been happening behind the scenes with you this year. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for all of your support, feedback, and kindness over the years that have led to this place of transformation. I’m looking forward to a bright and beautiful new year, and wishing you all the same. Here’s to continued giving, continued learning, and even more adventuring into the next decade!
Lots of love,