HWB features school, business, and nonprofit members throughout the year on the directory page, home page and here on the blog. This month we are interviewing business member Maile of Prana Potions, located in Hawai'i.
Tell us about the area you live in Hawaii.
Aloha everyone, my name is Maile, pronounced “My-Lee” spelled the traditional Hawaiian way. I am so grateful, as I was fortunate as to be born and raised on the island of O’ahu, Hawai’i. Continuously building up my private studio where I create all things Prana Potions which is also located within the charming home I was originally brought up in. My family’s house resides on the makai (ocean) side near Kuli’ou’ou valley adjacent to a beautiful biodynamic fish pond with a Makaha (wooden sluice gate) my father built. I love spending time on my family’s property, it truly is my sanctuary - even though my partner, Ian and I are currently renting a great space in Manoa valley. This year, I have been focusing my attention to the plants and have been gardening almost daily on my parents' property to help provide nutritious food and potent plant medicine for my family, my friends, my clientele, and of course myself. My long-term plan does not involve me residing in Hawai’i, I leave that open; however, the ‘aina (land) will always be considered my Home where I can (hopefully and continuously) come back to greet with a nostalgic kiss.
What led you to start your own herbal body and beauty products?
Before I was introduced to herbalism (which sparked everything) I was about 4-5 years old and my father was out doing yard work. I was usually outside with him daily, and that day I picked & gathered a few varieties of hibiscus flowers which grew near one of the rock walls in the garden. I noticed the hibiscus petals would create a mucilaginous texture with purple-pink colored pigments on my fingertips when rubbed together, so of course, I grabbed a friendly rock and pestled the hibiscus flowers into a slimy purple tinted paste, applying it to my lips, just like mama. This was just the beginning.
My first introduction to Herbalism occurred in May of 2011 when my Waldorf HS classmates & I had the opportunity to travel to the secluded neighboring island of Moloka’i. We gathered around a sacred Kukui Nut (Aleurites moluccana) grove & learned how the Hawaiians traditionally used this versatile plant medicinally and why. Learning about the healing application, and later the constituents and properties of this plant inspired me on my quest to quench my thirst for botanical healing practices. Knowing there is potent, yet gentle medicine growing beneath and above us, practically free for anyone to grow, gather & use, to me, was and still is complete magic. The divinity exists in the soil, the fungi, the plants, the trees, and our relationship with Life itself. Plant therapeutics and energy work is a huge part of what I feel is my dedicated service to the world and our people! I’m sure you can tell I am very passionate about what I do and why I feel guided to help (and help guide others) as much as I can. Prana Potions is my dedicated space to supply my own personal (and now global!) apothecary, body care and herbal concoctions which I notice evolve every moment I do! What a blessing is that!
Where did the name Prana Potions come from - what in the name most connects you with your business, your products?
The name’s special, as it represents my very first introduction to herbalism, esoteric sciences, energy work and understanding the connection (like systems theory) between what is “I” and what is “the other”. The word ‘PRANA’ is Sanskrit, and has many faces of translations, I’ll share a few here: “constant motion”, “energy source”, “Mana/Qi/Energy/Vibration that makes up the Universe(s)”, “what exists within the in-between/space/the unseen”, “an intuitive guiding life-force” permeating every particle, dancing between the ethers.
I chose the word ‘POTIONS’ as I feel it distinguishes my approach and my personal process that is heart-centered, made with my direct intention & attention to specific details based on trial/error, and continuously learning from those who know much more than I. My approach is to connect on a visceral level in tandem with this primordial source, as woo-woo as it sounds, I’ve noticed a difference from my concoctions then, versus my concoctions now. My Heart will always lovingly vibrate and SING, no matter how many countless times I’ve received the words, “I can literally FEEL the Love radiating from your craft.”
Can you tell us a bit about your products?
Prana Potions really is my own signature line for my unique intimate collaboration with the primordial plant world. Within the sphere I call Prana Potions, I host a variety of versatile, holistic-inspired (La’au Lapa’au, Ayurveda & Western Herbalism) concoctions where the ingredients I use are specifically sourced from suppliers I trust (organically grown, always), ethically wild-harvested (always less than 10%, & never in parks/recreational areas), or my personal favorite- locally homegrown with LOVE by either me, close friends, or grown by our beloved local farmers here in Hawai’i.
You can find botanical, root & flower-based ‘makeup’, elemental edible (and topical) tinctures/elixirs, non-comedogenic plant-infused body serums and quality versatile self-care offerings, crafted individually by my two hands. I’ll often find myself blissfully tearing up, feeling this huge sense of relief and inner empowerment knowing we can only grow from here!
Despite our current day and age, with all its distractions and embedded trauma for many of us, ever since I can remember, it’s been difficult for me to not see the divinity/lessons in all of it. This is a part of me I hold and love fiercely. It is what I believe, what makes my work the potency that it is with its gentle ability to nourish those as sensitive individuals; whether you have sensitive skin, or a sensitive Soul, like myself! Our artisanal apothecary shifts and cycles like the seasons, where many of my formulas are created in micro-batches (or limited edition quantities) which ensures freshness and retain that ‘spice of life.’ The concoctions will change when I do, and that’s my modus operandi. My work and I don’t hold back from growth, nor improving ourselves. It’s an intimate relationship, something many of us creators and artists feel about our work.
How do you create and develop new products?
My approach is a loving, invigorating, intuitive and scientific one- made from the heart (not machine) with awareness of ecological-rights & justice for earth-kind, and I’m passionate about that. When it comes down to it, many products have been birthed from those moments where I've suffered the most and wished there were physical modalities that were gentle enough for my own body, skin, and mind. My biggest issues are my pain management, nausea (thus creating eating disorders), my skin’s health, & the management of mental illness (physical anxiety, OCD, and depression). I continuously work, just like anyone else, to make peace with myself, knowing I am certainly not perfect (why be anyway?) and no one is expecting me, a 23-year-old to know all the secrets to health. Knowing I am doing my best to help my loved ones, myself and my community with what I have to offer excites me more than I could possibly write in words! It’s exciting to know Prana Potions will never be a stale brand, it will always be a part of the journey.
How does HWB connect with your business ethos and goals?
HWB is a powerful global (and local!) grassroots community consisting of herbal apothecary projects & strategies promoting holistic health and wellness accessible to all people, no matter their income, circumstance or trauma. These are the values I look for in a community. Joining their team and donating what I feel is a helpful amount to their cause is worth every ounce of work you squeezed into your passions to be able to give back- I mean, where would we be without each other anyway?
A goal of mine is to expand Prana Potions in a way where receiving capital isn’t an issue (by means to get by, I know, good luck, right? Despite the doubt, I’m remaining positive). Herbalists Without Borders has paved a unique way which has inspired a new vision for what it is I want to give to the world, where there is an abundance of nutritious plant medicine and I am able to freely provide assistance for those in serious need of my line of work. I am in the beginning stages of finding myself and establishing my services, but this goal of mine runs quite DEEP. I always knew it began with my heart, little did I know your heart could literally extend past your hands and comfort another in need with your distinct innate healing nature. Don’t ever think for one moment, you can’t help or heal another, ask yourself, what helps and heals you? Extend yourself as that mirror for another who resonates, and you may quickly find yourself reaching those who specifically gravitate towards that nurturing gift of yours- where hopefully, we may always be provided for, to continuously lend our much needed remedial energy to those in need.
Where can we find Prana Potions products?
If you feel guided to gift yourself or a loved one a few of my handcrafted concoctions, you can find my offerings on the Shop tab within this website here: www.PranaPotions.com | I am also active on IG (@PranaPotions) but please beware, I get close and intimate with those who wish to witness the journey of our unfolding, feel free to join me if you wish!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
To be honest, growing up, I wasn’t properly taught how to take serious care of my overall health, it was codependent in its nature, where I allowed others to take responsibility for what I didn’t know then, were optional, how I could I blame myself, or my parents if they didn’t know better? It was only until it all just hit me (you know the feeling.) It’s important to remember, how over time with cellular turnover (and cells multiplying/copying one another) our body becomes entirely made out of what you have put inside of it & on top of it. As goes the saying, "you are what you eat", this goes for both internal methods such as eating, smoking, ingesting/applying prescription medication, using herbal therapeutics, and external applications such as wearing latex gloves, antiperspirant deodorant, even using makeup created out of ground hibiscus flowers and dehydrated beetroots. What do we choose to feed ourselves- metaphysically (and palpably)? We’re most certainly not separate from the environment which feeds us... One of my hopes is to help rebirth one's’ conceptions of personal/ self-care, to a heart-centered, reverent experience which innately becomes a lifestyle that overtime, befriends us, instead of betrays us. It is an absolute privilege, and an honor to be of service to my local and global community. Like I say, thank the plants, as I consider myself a bridge for those who don’t know how to speak their language thus utilizing their undeniable talents for growth, lesson and of course, healing. Mahalo nui loa, dear friends, and thank you, truly, for taking the time to get to know a little bit about me and my dearly beloved craft.
Keep up with the latest news, updates, and more. Learn about our projects and amazing work Chapters are doing.
tagged: activism and health-justice
by Joie Davidow
tagged: herbal-traditions and history
tagged: anti-colonialism, black-herbalists, and herbal-traditions
tagged: activism, anti-colonialism, black-herbalists, and herbal-traditions
by Grace Budrys
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF HWB.
HWB is a 501c3 NGO nonprofit. Our all volunteer nonprofit is a group of herbalists, medicinal plant growers, herbal educators, alternative holistic modality practitioners and others dedicated to herbal health access for all, medicinal plant conservation, health justice and more.
©2019, all rights reserved.