July 19, 2016
Sweet Honey Farmacy
Sweet Honey Farmacy is owned and operated by farmer/homesteader/herbalist Jaime Holub. We first took attention to SHF when shopping around NE Portland and seeing her unique line of herbal tonics, tinctures and soaps. Jaime’s genuine love of her work, and attention to detail shines through when she discusses preventative health care and the amazing things herbs can do!
Is there any interesting story behind your business name?
My business name was created on a whim. I thought it was cute and clever to call myself a “farmacy,” because living on a farm feels like I have access to so much. This name was birthed the night before tabling at the Portland Plant Medicine Gathering, an annual herb conference and marketplace. There was no real intention to start a business, I just wanted to share my wares and look a little professional at my table. There was such a great response from folks about what was being offered, it became really clear that the ball was rolling and I was going to follow it. Sweet Honey just became this kid sister that was always around and talked about, it never occurred to me that the name maybe didn’t make a lot of sense or sounded redundant, “yeah honey is sweet, so what?” My best friends were my first customers and have all really encouraged me to keep the name. It’s kind of cute, right?
Have you always been passionate about design?
I have always loved working with my hands and making things. When I was in high school I taught myself to sew, which was really gratifying and empowering. In college I spent most of my time painting and sculpting with found objects. I feel most at home with myself when I have projects to keep me motivated and entertained. My days consist of me floating from one project to another until I get dizzy. I really identify as a Maker – I love making stuff! The process of my hands and body in motion frees up my mind to find a place to be calm. I love production and I love the rhythm that I get to create around my work.
Why did you start working in this particular craft?
Learning about plant medicine has always been super exciting and appropriate for me. I find it really grounding to work with plants and to be active outside. I don’t like wasting things so I am super driven to harvest, process, and create a use for most things. The practical application of herbal medicine is so fun, simple and useful! It feels important to bring back this old knowledge and starting the conversation around preventative health care. I see herbalism and land stewardship as a form of activism and I love being apart of the movement.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
Why Sweet Honey Farmacy stands apart from other Apothecary businesses is that SHF is based on a farm. I get the chance to have my hands on many extra steps that other businesses don’t and I think people notice the difference. I grow a small plot of herbs that are used in my products, I help raise goats whose milk is used in my soap making, and I also have my hand in beekeeping.
SHF is an extension of my farming lifestyle and naturally an extension of myself.
What has been your proudest moment since creating your business?
About a year and a half ago I was in Sandy at the local coffee shop just chatting with some of the baristas about new things happening in our sleepy town. One girl rolled into the conversation and said, “Hey guys have you heard about Sweet Honey Farmacy…” and trailed into a description of what I was up to at the time. This was the first time this happened to me and I felt so shocked. I didn’t fess up to it for awhile because I wanted to keep hearing how they described my project. It was the first time I noticed that I was being seen by others. Of course, I knew it was possible for folks to see me through the internet, but it was very cool for me to see my town’s reaction. I still blush and feel a little surprised when folks say they know my products, I still feel so small.
So those are some ego-boosting favorite times, but what I am actually the most proud of is running this business alone. I started this business with my best friend and farm mate Lili Tova and as I mentioned in another response, this lady is a power house! She knows how to get shit done and I loved the momentum and confidence she added to the project. A year and a half ago, she realized she was too overwhelmed with managing the farm and running this business, so we decided to split our partnership. I was actually really devastated and freaked out! There was so much of ‘our story’ wrapped up in the business for me and it felt a bit vapid without her for a long while. I struggled to understand how to fill that gap that she held in the business. Running a business with a friend is SO FUN! Running a business Alone? So scary! I made space for a lot of reflection, processing, letting go and growing into my own. This experience helped me recommit myself to this work in a new way and for that I am super thankful.
(Of course we are still best friends, and probably better friends because of this.)
How does the city you live in influence your work?
Portland! Thank you! I am so grateful to have a community of thinkers, makers and doers. I always feel so encouraged and supported. I work with really great stores in town who feel like my biggest cheerleaders. Portland has a growing herbal community that has been so rad to be apart of. Learning about herbal medicine has become so accessible and it seems like everyone is waking up in a new way around this information.
Although Portland is my community, my actual home is 25 miles east of the city in Sandy. I am so fortunate to live on an organic farm owned and managed by my best friend. My farm family consists of Lili and 3 farm interns, David and Carol who are Lili’s parents, my big sister Bria (a new recruit) and 4 dogs. I am loved and encouraged at my home base everyday and we are all apart of making the farm a thriving space.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
One really valuable thing I did for myself was that I enrolled into a small business course that was offered through Mercy Corps NW. They were so great. I tell everyone to start here. It really helped me understand what is important to consider as a new business owner and how to take these first steps. They also have ongoing workshops and a ton of useful resources.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
It really just kind of happened. Being my own boss has been really uncomfortable, scary and hard. I still don’t know how to do it very well. Some days I would kill for someone to just tell me what to do! But it has also been really empowering and has allowed me to feel a sense of confidence that I didn’t know I was lacking. My life and my work blurs so closely together, I really enjoy the process of making. However, I can also pout and act like I am being punished anytime I need to sit down to do computer work. I am taking this boss thing in stride. Once in awhile, I take days off to work on other projects to find a sense of relief from myself.