Husband and wife team Wilder Botanics create hand blended, natural products from their small London workshop. Their teas, tinctures and infusions for the TOAST Wellbeing Collection are informed by backgrounds in herbology and naturopathy, with the body and mind at the core of each.
Rachel and Charlie talk to us about some of the traditional healing properties of herbs, as well as their own thoughts on wellness and ritual...
Can you tell us a little about Wilder Botanics, how did it all begin?
Wilder began quite a few years ago whilst I was still primarily practising as a naturopath and herbalist. At the time, there wasn't a huge overall interest in herbs, with very few places where you could purchase herbs medicinally. At the beginning, we wanted to make herbs more modern', to get people out there in nature, even in the inner cities. We wanted to inspire them to be Wilder!
My friend Lerryn Korda who is an incredible artist illustrated all our herbal ingredients for the labels of our infusions. We had the hope that partakers would be more connected to the herbs they were drinking, and even inspired to identify and collect some of the ingredients themselves.
What did practicing as a herbalist and a naturopath teach you?
What's wonderful with herbology and naturopathy is that you never stop reading and learning. Working with clients for well over a decade has given me the privilege of seeing first-hand the healing benefits of the herbs, being there on a journey and seeing the transformation.
Naturopathy encompasses the whole person, not just their symptoms but their environment too - including diet, habits, activities, and their history to where they are today. With this knowledge I usually recommend the changes needed, hoping to empower my clients to actively participate in their own healing journey.
Wilder became an extension of this, seeds of knowledge passed down from generation to generation within organic, natural and herbal formulas.
Can you tell us a little about the medicinal and healing properties of plants?
Herbs have been used in healing for many centuries, there are recordings from as far back as Egyptian times. There is the powerful Indian Ayurvedic system and Traditional Chinese medicine too. Today, more than 75% of the world's population still depend on herbs for their basic health needs.
Herbs contain such a vast range of chemical constituents, inorganic salts, sugars, carbohydrates, complex proteins and alkaloids. Each herb has its own unique spectrum of actions that not only work with specific organs, but with the whole body system - energetically and physically.
What is a usual day in the workshop like for you, how do you balance your business and family life?
When we need to go into the studio and make fresh batches of our Wilder formulas, we're really happy. We love to test new formulas, concoct new teas and infuse oils. Working with our ingredients is the best part of our work.
There's also the other part of running a small business that were both getting to grips with! We have four children, our oldest is now a young woman of 20, and the youngest is 4, so there's a lot of juggling. With lockdown we really slowed down and immersed the kids in long nature walks as much as we could. The Spring months have been a perfect time for foraging herbs and learning all of their names, and making some lotions & potions with them too.
How do you bring wellness into your daily rituals?
Every morning, I like to dry body brush before showering to help get my lymphatic system moving, and it also helps wake me up. We take a daily probiotic to support the digestive system and drink a pot of our Cleanse & Refresh infusion which is incredibly nutritious. Charlie likes to make a smoothie with lots of seasonal fruit and veg. He adds powdered Reishi, Nettle and Amla for an extra adaptogen hit. He loves the water, so he's always out swimming or Kayaking on the canal.
We always try to eat well, this is something that's important to us as a family. Charlie is the cook in the house, although our eldest gets stuck in too. Listening to music is similarly a big part of our lives, both at home and in the studio. It allows us some important time to slow down and daydream.
Is there a particular plant, flower or material that you especially like to work with for its specific scent, sentiment or power?
Mine would have to be Nettle. I love this herb for its hardiness, and the fact that its so versatile, easily available, nutrient dense, healing and detoxifying.
Charlie's would be the oils, Vetiver being his favourite with its earthy scent and grounding sensibility. He's loving Magnolia leaf at the moment, and there's something exciting he has been working away on with this. I'm desperate for him to add it to our Wilder collection when he's more than 100% happy with it!
What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness to us is when the mind, body and spirit are functioning harmoniously.
Can you tell us about some of the oils and teas you have blended for TOAST?
One of our most popular teas is our Calm & Support infusion with organic oat tops, whole Chamomile flowers, lemon balm and a little bit of lavender. This blend is a wholesome nervine tonic that we formulated not just for helping to wind down after a busy day, but to really support any tension, stress, anxiety and exhaustion.
Our Herb Infused Body Oil with Calendula was one of the first products I originally blended for myself and then for friends. It's a rich and nourishing oil that leaves the skin looking silky and hydrated, without a greasy residue. It is food for the skin with nutrients A, C & E, silica and essential fatty acids. We've used an organic and sustainable blend of sandalwood, patchouli, atlas cedar and rose geranium that helps to support the nervous system and lift the spirits too.
Our Longevity Tonic is a blend of tinctured turmeric, ashwagandha and reishi - three adaptogens that I've written about in my book Super Herbs. These three are my favourites and they've been used for centuries for their health giving properties. They help to protect from everyday stressors that can have a premature ageing effect on the body.
Where do you usually go for inspiration?
The parks, the heath, scrublands and woods. In Spring there is no end to the natural inspiration. I enjoy make bouquets with some of the wild flowers in bloom that I come across when walking. Foxgloves in particular are flowering at the moment and always add such sculptural beauty to bouquets for the home. Swimming is always a head clearer for Charlie.
What is the best advice you have been given that you could pass on?
No matter how busy you, are always make time to stop and smell the flowers.
Please Note - Familiarising yourself with medicinal and edible plants before use is very important. When identifying plants and flowers on walks, Rachel would recommend taking a few books; DK's Pocket Encyclopaedia or Blacks Nature Guide on Medicinal Herbs. Knowing the season, habitat and checking for the key features of a plant will help to identify one plant from a potential lookalike. It is advisable to talk to a herbalist or GP before taking medicinal herbs.