We had the good fortune of connecting with Whitney Renee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Whitney, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Since I was a child, I’ve had a fascination of and love for writing, learning, and nature. I’d often skip recess to write, and when I was home, I found myself creating stories in my mind about the magic of nature in my backyard. Making potions with twigs and leaves, exploring the creek behind my house, and escaping into what seemed like another realm.
And quite honestly, nothing has changed now that I’m an adult. I pursued two degrees in creative writing, studied 17th century medieval herbal manuscripts during graduate school, decided to pursue another master’s in complementary alternative medicine, make potions with plants – except now I’ve turned this into a company.
I never felt like I could be “boxed into” a specific career path – and I have yet to come across a job posting that equally lit me up and terrified me. There is a rebel inside of me that refuses to settle, a dreamer who longs for the creative, and a visionary who desires to teach about how nature is our true nurturer. Choosing a creative career, one where I have the opportunity to combine my passions, is by far one of the most rewarding and challenging of endeavors. And after experiencing it, there’s no turning back.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Wild + Rooted Collective focuses on three pillars: Peace, Plants, and Wellness. The word plants is purposefully written in between peace and wellness because I do believe they are the foundation for the exploration of self, a path for mental clarity, and an opportunity to rediscover our true essence. Wild + Rooted’s teaching are about looking within and learning about who we are, why we do what we do, and how we want to show up in this world.
And arriving to this moment with the company has not been an easy journey. The path to Wild + Rooted began in 2012, though I had no idea I would walk act as a small business owner or what it has become. In 2012, my life drastically changed. I found myself going through a divorce, working for an employer who was cutting $3.5 million in jobs and programs, and utterly lost. I craved stability – and more than anything, I wanted to feel peaceful. Because my finances were so tight, my nutritional practiced changed; I was eating mostly fruits and vegetables. I terminated my gym membership, so I began working out in a park by a river. And I spent more time alone that I thought imaginable. As this new routine evolved, I began drinking tea and learning about other herbs and essential oils. It was the combination of all these plant-based remedies that provided the foundation for me to feel reconnected to myself again. I felt clear. I felt focused. I felt hopeful. I began a yoga teacher training program, and a few years later, I graduated with a master’s of science in complementary alternative medicine.
Now when I work with clients, I bridge the knowledge about plants with the insights I’ve learned about rhetoric along with the practices of mindfulness and yoga. Plants are incredibly powerful, and when we integrate them into our lives with purpose and intention, we begin to move towards wellness. Our minds become clear. Our bodies release inflammation. Our energy improves. We feel more connected. And when we are feeling a sense of wellbeing, that’s when we understand and experience peacefulness within.
Wild + Rooted offers individual wellness consultations, yoga and meditation classes, reiki sessions as well as handcrafted, organic and vegan botanical products. Everything is created from this vision of returning to our true essence and living authentically. In the journey of life, regardless of path chosen, chaos, stress, and uncertainty will continue to exist. Learning to remain centered and calm amongst it all has been a great lesson so far. And quite honestly, that centeredness has paved the pathway for me to follow my dreams – having that rebel in me has helped too!
Creating, operating, and playing all the roles in a small business is not easy. It is exhausting and overwhelming. It can be maddening and absolutely exhilarating. It takes courage, resilience, support, vision, patience and more to go after what you desire. Many of us want the life of a creative or entrepreneur, and the advice I wish I was told before I began is this:
Take care of yourself. Rest. And remember, failure no longer exists: you either learn or you succeed.
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?
Abalone Cove Hike Descanso Gardens
Sage Plant Based Bistro
Rooftop Cinema Club
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to four humans: my mother and father, Professor Gay, and a total stranger I met waiting in the checkout line at a grocery store. Needless to say when you tell your family you want to pursue a degree in creative writing, you aren’t setting yourself up for praises about the potential job opportunities. When you tell them you’ve fallen in love with studying medieval herbal manuscripts, there aren’t many follow up questions. And later when you call your family, tell them you quit your job and explain there is no other job lined up… Oh one more, when even later you call your family to tell them you are renovating a small school bus to live and travel in while you get a second master’s degree… Well, by then my family realized I was eccentric. No matter my decisions, even if they haven’t fully understood or agreed with them, they’ve supported me and cheered me on. For that, I am eternally grateful. Plus, they are brutally honest in their opinions when I make a new botanical product. Feedback is gold.
In 2012, Professor Gay invited me to a writing conference. I went with such hesitancy and fear. It was right after my divorce. When I walked into the auditorium, she saw me and announced, “Divorce looks so good on you.” The power of words. And her words brought something to life again and made me realize I could still create.
And the stranger in the checkout line at a grocery store. Oddly enough, we were purchasing the same lunch items: an overpriced smoothie and a bag of trail mix. We shared a conversation, and one of the questions this person asked me was, “If you haven’t taken the leap of faith to pursue [your dreams] now, will you ever?” The power of words struck again, and I walked back to work into my boss’ office and put in my resignation.
A bold move. I wouldn’t recommend everyone do it that way.