We see you are based in one of our favourite parts of the world, the west coast of Canada. You’ve found yourself on Bowen, have you always been based there?
Yes, I’m so happy to call Bowen Island home. I moved here with my partner and baby almost 2 years ago from the West End in Vancouver. It had been a long-time dream to live more remotely and near the water. I didn’t think we could make it happen so quickly having a new business and new baby but I’m so happy we did it! I’ve lived in a few big cities and loved it, but a quieter / nature-surrounded home is where we wanted to live long term and working for myself made it a possibility a lot sooner than we had dreamed. We had to make the compromise of Andy commuting to work from Bowen Island, but now he’s working from home so it’s absolutely ideal for us as a family and for Sangre de Fruta. We were able to open a storefront and grow our production area and head office a lot sooner than we would have been able to in Vancouver (due to affordability) and we have this wonderful tight community to be a part of here!
The west coast has the best summers, a proper summer. What have you been up to this summer?
Its my second summer on Bowen Island and last summer I was so busy I didn’t really take the time to enjoy it. So, this summer I was determined to get outside every chance I could. I swam (or floated around) almost every day, got on my paddleboard, prioritized seeing friends and spending time with Penny and Andy…it was a great summer! I’m ready for fall though – my introvert side of me is really ready to be quieter.
We stumbled upon and have fallen in love with your products; they are beautiful. Sangre de Fruta Botanical (means ‘blood of the fruit’ in Spanish). You are the Founder of this brand, company… based on Bowen. Tell us how Sangre de Fruta Botanical came to be.
I started Sangre de Fruta after a couple years of making creams with my friend and former owner of Vancouver’s first apothecary Gaia Gardens. She owned an apothecary in the 80s’ in the hippy haven of Kitsilano and sold it after a decade of being a much-loved herbal dispensary destination. Her client and friends kept asking her for her creams she made, and she decided she wanted to pass down the craft of making them, and I was very lucky she chose to teach me! We made all sorts of different creams over a few years and our friends and family loved receiving the new batch as gifts. It was then that I saw the opportunity to use my love for botanicals and my background in fashion and design to create a line of creams with grassroots formulas for the luxury market. At that time luxury skincare was almost all synthetic and that didn’t make any sense to me! The name Sangre de Fruta was inspired by a line in Pablo Neruda poem, and my friend and mentor Elena introduced me to the poet among other Spanish artists.
What has been your journey as a Founder? From idea to being discovered by publications like vogue and sold through platforms like goop, did it come easy? If not, what have been your biggest challenges or biggest opportunities?
Some things have come easy, or rather there has been a natural flow…the way the brand has been received by customers, press and buyers for example. It feels as if I’ve put something into the world that is resonating with people and there has been an organic growth to the demand for my products. However, building the business operationally has been a challenge! So much learning as far as the financial aspects, managing a team, scaling systems, training and delegating … it’s a lot!
A couple years ago when we had just moved to Bowen Island and opened a store-front and a head office was a really tough year for me. I didn’t have enough childcare, Penny started having health issues, and the business was growing to a degree that I couldn’t keep up with. I was working so much that I wasn’t taking care of myself properly and was having panic attacks. I felt like I was doing everything badly (including being a mom). Thankfully this year I seem to have things flowing again. I’ve managed to take time to take care of myself, Penny’s healthy and the business is growing and operating nicely again. I thought I could just ignore my own needs and power through and prioritize Penny and the business. After one of my panic attacks I realised that taking care of myself was essential to taking care of my business and Penny properly. Seems obvious in hindsight! I owe a lot to Andy for having taken on more at home, an amazing teacher and Penny’s Montessori and a wonderful team at Sangre de Fruta.
It must be hard to pick a fav Sangre de Fruta product but tell us about your favourite product. How did it come to be and what is its magic?
The Rose No.1 cream is really special to me! The Botanical Body Creams were my first products and when I was developing the collection, I fell in love with Rose Otto oil. Rose scents had a reputation for being old fashioned and sickly sweet (all the synthetic versions) but I was mesmerized by the scent, aromatherapy and skin healing properties of true rose. The bottle I bought cost more than my rent at the time and it represented a leap of faith to me. I was moved by it at a deep level, and I wanted to create products that were more exquisite and precious than anything on the market, so I went for it. The magic is when nature talks to us…or when we listen, rather.
Love your style, linen meets vintage fur, how did you come up with that? ☺
My island lifestyle has brought out the need for everything I wear to be super comfortable and versatile. My background in the fashion world has given me an appreciation for timeless pieces and eclectic gems from thrift stores! The pairing of linen and fur is my little way of adding another layer of indulgence to my everyday through how the materials feel and how I feel wearing them.
Did you like the HK linen pieces? The Rock Salt Robe, the Taylor Shirt. Any linen styling advice for us?
I adore the collection! I’ve been living in the Rock Salt robe from the beach to work to evenings at friends. My tip for linen is to wear it loose and pair it with other sensual fabrics – silk, fur, anything that drapes around your body. Linen adds that perfect soft structure. The fabric of the Florence Slip Dress, Morocco Chemise is a perfect layer, all the silkiness yet easy to care for.
There is something about island life, it’s slower, more purposeful, you relish more in the moment. How has it impacted your company?
There is! Island-time is a real thing here. Living here has allowed me to live more in-line with my values and it’s doing the same for the business. It feels so natural with the connection to the community and nature around us to keep growing sustainably and with accountability for everything we do.
What is your big dream for Sangre de Fruta Botanical?
My big dream is for Sangre de Fruta to impact the beauty and wellness industries to the degree that my daughter grows up in a world where body positivity and true connection to nature is a norm, and synthetic ingredients aren’t seen as a luxury anymore.
You are a mom, a wife and a founder, a business partner, a member of a purposeful community… we won’t be cliché and ask how you do it all, but on the outside looking in you’ve achieved a level of successful entrepreneurship. What is your advice for us?
That’s kind of you to say! Staying connected to my deep inner drive and larger purpose to make Sangre de Fruta into what I dream it will be has been what has made me keep going through the hard bits. So, I guess I say finding that meaning to you in what you’re doing is an important step in starting a business, not only to start it but to keep you going when the going is tough.
Was there a moment in your life that was that transformational moment, where you said I need to do something different, and discovered your purpose?
I was in a rock bottom place after leaving an abusive relationship. The fight upwards and out of the hole made me realize no-one else can really help me value myself and get me where I want to go. Through therapy I eventually found a piece of me that felt right and just kept moving forward with that one tiny step at a time. I put everything I had (literally and figuratively) into starting Sangre de Fruta, and here I am in a much better place.
We are just wrapping up a summer reading season, have you read anything that we should add to our list?
I haven’t done near as much reading as I would have liked to this summer! Hopefully this fall!
What social justice movement is top of mind for you? What would you like to see changed in the world?
Women’s equality. I’d like to see the abuse stop.
Back to Sangre de Fruta, you say “We believe beauty, medicine & magic are inseparable”. Tell us more about those three especially the magic.
When I was developing the brand, I was drawn to the idea of biophilia: a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital and to ancient Egypt and their use of botanical ingredients in beautification, medicine and rituals. The common link was that these topics weren’t as separate as they are in modern culture, and I wanted to explore that idea through Sangre de Fruta.
What is your fav Harris Kuipers garment? Why?
I love the Morocco Chemise! The fabric and drape are so luxurious, and it makes me feel like a witch in a good way!