Today’s “Five Questions With…” interview is with Marie Davis, the founder of Hazel Moon Botanicals. I first met Marie a couple of years ago and have been using her products ever since. My favorite is the bug spray; it’s our yearly tick-repellent and has been keeping my family safe for the past few summers. My kids love the way it smells and I like that it’s DEET free and works! – Rachel
1) Please tell us a little about Hazel Moon Botanicals. What made you want to start it? Do you have any favorite products or must-haves for your personal use? I started making a moisturizing balm when my daughter was a toddler. She had horrible eczema, that nothing else seemed to help, and most OTC lotions and cremes hurt her skin! The first time I used it on her, she said “no mama, owie”, and I told her that it was magical lotion that would help her skin feel better. Lo and behold, Mama’s Magical Lotion was born.
Fast forward a few years, and our son joined our little family. Leading up to his 2nd birthday we discovered that he had a number of food allergies, as well as multiple chemical skin sensitivities. Having a background in chemistry, I was initially reluctant to use essential oils, because they are highly concentrated organic compounds. But our family is very active outside, and we needed a bug spray that I could safely use on a freshly minted 2-year-old, AND have it be effective against New Hampshire’s mosquitoes, ticks and black flies. So, in 2016 I formulated what would become the pre-cursor to our botanical Bug Spray.
I honestly hadn’t considered turning these solutions that I created for my family into a business. It was only after a number of parents in a local Facebook group asked to buy bottles of bug spray that I realized in solving my own family’s problems, I had filled a niche for helping others as well!
I would say that our MUST have, keep them in a pouch for my purse or backpack are: a tin of Mama’s Magic Lotion, a bottle of botanical Bug Spray, a roller of Stop Itch and a bottle of Calm aromatherapy spray. I can fend off bugs, boo boos, itchy issues and help with nerves or excess energy with these 4 items. Kind of like a super-hero kit.
2) What are the challenges to owning a small business in NH – environmental or otherwise? I would say that one of my biggest challenges is finding affordable space to grow my business. There are a number of co-working spaces that are perfect and affordable for office-based businesses. However, finding a space that is suitable for small-batch manufacturing of aromatherapy products has been exceptionally challenging. Of course, COVID definitely slowed down our growth, but I am still looking to find a space to expand my production, with the possibility of a small retail storefront.
The biggest environmental challenge that I face is shipping, both raw materials as well as orders from my website. I am so happy to offer most of my products through Bona Fide Green Goods in Concord, and Local in Pittsfield, which allows people to try testers of our products and buy what they need locally, which helps to reduce the environmental impact. I have also recently started offering local pick-up for orders, where I will coordinate with customers to meet up or deliver their products when I am already going to be out and about, to help mitigate the impact of not only delivery, but the extra packing materials required to ship orders.
3) Did you have a personal “a-ha” moment when it came to caring about the Earth? I would say that my environmental awakening first started when I was in college. As a Biology major, I took a number of biodiversity and ecology classes. I specifically remember one course where I had to estimate the CO2 emissions from “field to table” to feed the students on campus for one month. While I don’t remember the exact number, the TONS of CO2 emissions to feed a few thousand people for one month was a staggering amount. I would say that as an adult, probably the biggest single impact was when I read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” in 2007. Ever since then, my husband and I have been making step-wise changes to our food sources, to continually improve our own impact to the environment. We eventually got to a point where we decided to sell our home in Boscawen to buy a farm, so we could raise our own pork, eggs and chickens, to reduce our own food-chain footprint.
4) Do you have any personal struggles with zero-waste or anything you’d like to work on improving? My biggest area where I think our family needs to do better is single use plastic bags for food storage. It’s a convenience that my husband really resists giving up, especially as he’s the primary dish-washer, so baggies mean less for him to wash, dry and put away. My kids are easy to get on the reusable bag train, but unfortunately they have thrown more than a few reusable silicone bags away by accident. I feel like we do so well in many areas, but this one makes me cringe regularly.
5) Anything else you’d like to share? Buying local, natural products is something that I am really passionate about! I love to support other small businesses, it builds community, reduces our environmental footprint, and helps to support our local economy. I think New Hampshire is a treasure trove of entrepreneurship, with hundreds of micro-businesses who are out there, doing good things, and creating solutions for people on so many levels. If I can give one piece of advice, it would be that if you love the products from a small business like Hazel Moon Botanicals, tell your local stores, farm stands, etc! Word of mouth and promoting your favorite small businesses is how we can grow organically, reduce our dependence on big box stores, and keep our micro-economy thriving!