Sunflowers hydrate. Vetiver roots soothe. Coffee beans exfoliate. Krystle Robinson-Hershey carefully picks organic botanicals for her Sage & Elm Apothecary products. Turmeric, cloves, dandelion and grape – each serves a purpose in her therapeutic toolbox. While she educates customers about how various plants benefit the body, she also talks about how important it is to take time for yourself every day. For Robinson-Hershey, the benefits of using her products are beyond skin deep.
“I feel like the products give people a few minutes to think about themselves, their choices and their desires,” she says. “We all have our hygienic routine of showering or bathing. Sage & Elm was born by combining mental health and self-care into a product.”
In 2013, Robinson-Hershey began tinkering with fresh blueberries, cranberries and other raw ingredients in her kitchen. She wanted to create a bar of soap rich in antioxidants, texture and color, so she carefully folded whole berries into the pulp mixture.
“I put some pictures on social media of some things I made with fresh berries, and people commented, ‘Oh that’s so beautiful. I love it,’ and I was like ‘You do?’” Robinson-Hershey says. “So, people started to ask me about it. If someone wanted a bar or two, it was no big deal; I was just doing it for fun.”
Soon, the all-natural products gained more attention, and the requests increased. Even with the obvious demand, the “tinkering” remained a hobby until 2018. That was the year a tragic event caused Robinson-Hershey to rethink everything in her life.
“I lost my brother to addiction,” she says, adding that no one knew how much he was struggling. “To find him in that place was so difficult. We were very very close. Trying to cope and heal became my new reality.”
After losing her brother, Robinson-Hershey discovered her true passion: to help others heal. She realized she could reach people through her products, spreading a message of mind-body wellness and encouraging whole-body self-care.
“That’s when I really started working on my craft, researching and learning which plants are great combinations for a variety of things,” she says. “I chose the name ‘Sage & Elm Apothecary’ to embody the peace and positivity of sage, and the strength of an elm tree to represent the individual journey of each person. ‘Apothecary’ symbolizes the use of plants in a beneficial manner.”
Today, she hand-mixes small batches of more than 100 products, including face masks, lip balms, oils, sprays, shampoos, conditioners, salves and loose leaf teas. She also crafts more than 60 bars in every texture, color and scent she can pull from nature. Best-selling bars include Coco Star Bar, Mangum Mint and Jasmine’s Gold Bar. Sage & Elm’s popular Elder Healer bar contains sage and elderberry – good for immunity and relaxation – and has an earthy, sweet scent.
“I infuse different plants and herbs in each different batch, so people can take time to reflect while also giving something great to their being,” Robinson-Hershey says.
Fans can view and learn about her “bar of the week” on Instagram @sageandelmapothecary. “Let me take care of you,” she says in an Instagram video highlighting the Citrus Sensation bar. Robinson-Hershey is always experimenting with new ingredients, like aged starfruit or fermented tea.
“We like to give people variety, and we like to introduce things that you never in a million years thought you could love,” Robinson-Hershey says.
How about trying an all-natural toothpaste? Sage & Elm toothpaste is simple: baking soda to remove grit, mint to freshen and coconut to cleanse.
“It’s no frills,” she says. “It’s really common in countries outside of the West, where they use those ingredients to clean their teeth without having to deal with the harsh chemicals that can be found in a commercially made toothpaste.”
Robinson-Hershey is passionate about supporting other small businesses. She sources her plant-based ingredients from local farmers, markets and shops. Mean Beans Coffee Company provides the Costa Rican beans used in the Roasta Rica Clay Mask, which is used to exfoliate, hydrate and detox the skin.
Robinson-Hershey describes herself as “an artist at heart.” She has a degree in theater and loves to paint. She combines colors and textures in her products to surprise and delight, taking an artistic approach to every new creation.
“I think about the colors, I research different plants, and then I’ll begin to design it,” she says. “I want my bars to look as rustic as possible. I want you to feel the earth as you use it. I never want it to look perfect, because we are not perfect people.”
With Sage & Elm, Robinson-Hershey’s goal is not perfection, but rather improvement – daily nourishment for the body and mind, courtesy of Mother Nature.
Natural Healers To Try
Juke Joint Salve – Passion Flower – For reducing inflammation and pain
Elder Healer Bar – Sage and Elderberry – For immunity and relaxation
Roasta Rica Clay Mask – Costa Rican Coffee Beans – For exfoliation, hydration and detoxification
Perplexed by Vet Bar – Vetiver Root – For calming skin irritations and relaxation