We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Christman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nicole, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Hmmm this is such a good question. I think for me (and probably a lot of other creatives) it’s either work OR life and it’s really hard to find a balance between the two. A few things that have helped me the most are: re-evaluating my relationship with rest, learning to say no, and making my mental health a priority. It’s worth mentioning that all of these things are a whole hell of a lot easier to talk about than to actually do.

I have the unfortunate affliction that I’ve always got to be doing something. Hopping from task to task, project to project, working on another concept before I’ve even finished the first, second, third, fourth… you get the idea. And that’s something I’ve always struggled with. A true Gemini, hah. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to dissect and think through a plethora of ideas at once, but at what cost?

It’s so easy for me to get rundown, not taking time for myself that once I’m finally able to take a break I can’t stop thinking about what I should be doing next. Hmm, “should”. Should is one of those words that will get you in a lot of trouble because your brain will always tell you that you “should” be working on something else. I “should” be posting more. I “should” be working on that July launch. I “should” be folding those massive hampers full of clothes that have been sitting on the couch for how long?

*Whew* I got stressed just thinking about it but that’s the point. If you’re constantly focused on what you “should” be doing, you’ll never have any time to truly rest. Take a bath and read a non-work related book. Make yourself a hot cup of tea. Go on a drive and pick up your favorite snacks. For me, it’s about embracing these small moments and allowing myself to truly rest that helps bring me back into balance again.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Of course! Cat + Claw Apothecary is a botanical-based business that focuses on herbal skincare and will soon be launching a line of teas and spice blends that I am SO excited for! We are a small women-run business (it’s just me!) with the goal of changing the way people think about not only what they put in their bodies, but what they put on them as well. Through sustainably-sourced ingredients and packaging that’s good for the planet, we offer thoughtfully-made products that fit into anyone’s lifestyle.

I believe everyone should have access to thoughtfully-made goods that are crafted with ingredients they can actually feel good about. I want this business to reflect where we stand and are dedicated to educating and equipping our customers, as well as decentering power through making sustainable options more accessible.

The vision I hold for Cat + Claw is to make herbal products and “wellness” accessible to everyone, not just those who can afford it. I want to educate people on the origins, cultivation, and properties of botanicals, and do so in a way that respects the tenders of the plants and the planet alike. I want people to feel empowered with the decisions they make and most importantly, I want my business to be a reflection of my values— whether that’s emphasizing education over sales, fighting for racial equity, or compensating, acknowledging, and paying reparations to the OG and current tenders of these powerful plants. Sustainability is a journey and we are constantly adjusting the ways in which Cat + Claw can help create an anti-capitalist, anti-racist, just, and safe space.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Wow, I really love this question because it lets me think outside of my terribly small COVID bubble! How exciting!

First, I should preface the next part by saying that my life revolves around two things: food and plants! I love to eat, so whenever we get a day off my partner and I always find ourselves plotting how to fit the most snacks into our days and our bellies!

Our first go-to is, and will always be, to visit the lovely people at Thank You Coffee and Paper Please in Chinatown. Jonathan, Friedia, and Christine have curated two equally amazing spaces combined into one perfectly quaint storefront! The hope of snagging a Hojicha or 5 Spice Latte is what keeps me going through the week and we can never leave the shop without picking up some handmade cards, journals, or a new specialty pen from Paper Please! Their goods are just as nice as they are and a day off wouldn’t be complete without them! Next, we hit the plaza between Hill and Broadway. Packed with some of our favorite spots, the Macau Pork Chop Bun at Pearl River Deli is not to be missed! An amazing combination of savory, sweet juicy pork moistness, this sandwich never survives the walk back to the car. Still hungry? Hit up Lasita, formerly Lasa, for some bomb ass Lechon and Chicken Inasal. Looking for something a little different? Now Serving has an amazing selection of carefully curated cookbooks and the recently opened Sesame LA is the best little Superette stocking everything from pantry staples to handmade temple food. The best part, everything on Linda’s shelves highlights Asian makers! My favorite are the little dried lemongrass fishes.

If you’re near Highland Park definitely check out: Joy- you can’t go wrong with anything on their menu and the Hakka Mochi is delicious; Fig Earth Supply for all your veggie and herb planting needs; Plant Material for a plethora of native plants; and POT a full service pottery studio that is accessible and empowering for those that have felt marginalized in ceramic spaces– namely persons of color, the queer community, and millennials”.

It’s also worth mentioning that if I ever find myself with more time than I know what to do with, I’ll commit to the 1.5 hour drive down to the Hollywood Farmers Market and pick up some plants from Logans Gardens. Jimmy and his son Logan run a nursery w/ over a 1,000 heirloom & rare plants and I simply can’t get enough! There’s always a new variety I haven’t tried or an empty space in the yard where I *think* I can squeeze another veggie in. Jimmy and his son are so knowledgeable and passionate that it’s hard not to load up with more plants than I know what to do with.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Honestly, some of the most helpful people I’ve encountered throughout this entire herbalism journey are those I’ve never met!

In February I signed up for the Emblossom Herbal Business Conference, a two day virtual gathering “bringing together experts in GMPs, legal compliance, mindful marketing, sustainable and equitable sourcing, values-based business, and more” put on by Zoë Gardner, Summer Singletary, and Jacqueline Smith.

At the time of writing this I’ve only attended a few of the free webinars leading up to the main event and can say without a doubt it has easily been the best thing I’ve done for my business in all five years I’ve been operating! The community of knowledge that these lovely ladies have compiled and so willingly shared has shown a bright light into what was otherwise an empty void of questions, confusing regulations, and expensive “consultations” that left me with more questions than answers.

There is a surprising lack of help and information when it comes to building your herb-based brand and I am so grateful for Zoe, Summer, Jacqueline, and all the other countless herbalists and speakers for sharing their knowledge so enthusiastically and demystifying what is oftentimes an isolating, frustrating, and scary process. I mean, the conference hasn’t even started and it has already changed my business forever! To me that is so amazing and I can’t wait to see where Cat + Claw goes from here!

Website: https://www.catandclawapothecary.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catandclaw/

Image Credits
Emily Birkeland of Dahlia & Finch

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.