A Decade of Indigo Elixirs

A Decade of Indigo Elixirs

2020 is here, and amongst a sea of meanings it marks a full decade that I’ve dedicated to Indigo Elixirs. My earliest explorations with botanical materials were incited by a quest to find a beauty routine that worked for my body: specifically for my eternally dry skin and exceptionally thick Armenian hair. While spending a semester in Europe during my sophomore year of college, I became inspired by the desire for products that were not only effective but also versatile — to easily fit into the backpack I was living out of while traveling — and healthy — as I began questioning ingredient labels with increased scrutiny.

And so I began researching natural ingredients and DIY recipes that incorporated them, quickly gaining a new vocabulary of essential oils and carriers and herbs. Researching turned into experiementing and then fine tuning different formulas as I synchronized scents and harmonized textures. I created a serum for my hair, then realized many of those oils were good for my body as well so I made a body butter and a massage bar. I used ingredients from our kitchen to whip up a scrub and a face mask, and in no time I fell in love with the craft. It wasn’t long before friends and family asked for me to share what I was making, and the wheels of potential opportunity began turning. 

After spending two years playing with recipes, I launched Indigo Elixirs in October of 2009 as a senior in college. The very first little collection was packaged in all cobalt blue glass (which I no longer use for ethical reasons, but still love dearly) wrapped in tracing paper labels with a logo I had drawn by hand. 

The Original Indigo Elixirs, circa 2010

Early Indigo Elixirs circa 2010

When I first started selling at local farmers markets, I again and again was asked if I had any products for pain or for eczema. Realizing that these needs were clearly not being met by what was available, I began researching but was quickly overwhelmed by the results. I knew that herbs were the answer, but had no idea where to begin. And so, I enrolled in an herbal apprenticeship at Misty Meadows on a beautiful farm in New Hampshire.

Early Farmers Market Days, circa 2010

Early Market Days circa 2010

This apprenticeship opened my eyes to the enchanting world of herbalism, and it was here that I learned all the practical and witchy skills necessary of being an herbalist. I learned how to identify plants in the wild, harvest them, and turn them into medicines. I became fascinated by botanical compounds and properties, how they interact with one another and augment eachother. One of our many projects was to create our own Materia Medica consisting of over 100 plants, all of which we found and identified ourselves, and then pressed and made mini monographs for. The ephemeral green that had always surrounded me took on new meaning, as the each species gained a distinct identity in my senses. I had grown up helping my parents in the gardens of my family’s Massachusetts home, and suddenly I was able to forge a deeper connection with the all the new friends growing in our backyard. For my final project of the apprenticeship, I re-created my entire line to incorporate local herbs into all of my creations.

Indigo Elixirs circa 2011

The fire within me was sparked: I wanted to learn all that I could about the art and science of herbal medicine. With an intention to continue my studies and explore a new environment both culturally and botanically, I made a move across the country and settled into a new home on an old steamship in the houseboat community of Sausalito, California. Here I was able to brew potions on a vintage stove that needed to be lit with a match inside a creaky kitchen that swayed ever so faintly over the water. In those days you could find me slinging elixirs occasionally at the local farmers market but most often perched on a bench with my paintbox full of magic at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Paintbox of Potions at the SF Conservatory of Flowers, circa 2012

Indigo Elixirs on the S.S. Vallejo

After a year living a quiet Bay Area houseboat life, I was again moved to further pursue my herbal education in a new environment. With a total leap of faith and fate, I packed up my life and arrived in Honolulu with the intention of obtaining a Masters degree in ethnobotany. I had planned to put my business on hold while in grad school, but I soon realized that I deeply missed creating. At the time I was also honestly surprised that I was unable to find products that were incorporating Hawaii grown ingredients. I slowly began surveying what was available — I knew that if I was going to continue Indigo Elixirs in Hawaii, it would be a different kind of work.

The First All Over Oil, circa 2013

The Original Solve All Salve, circa 2013I wanted to offer formulas were infused with island flora, and that gave back to Hawaii’s agicultural community. I wanted my production to have minimal impact, so sourcing locally and packaging sustainably were top priorities. Slowly, product by product, I reinvented my entire line one at a time. Some of the first products I created on Oahu were the Solve All Salve — using all local herbs — and Chocolate Balm — with local cacao shells that were a byproduct from a friend’s chocolate making business. 

Indigo Elixirs Traveling Apothecary circa 2013

The Traveling Perfumery Bar circa 2013

That was seven years ago. While no part of this journey was easy or clear, I am humbled by where it is today. Over the past several years, I’ve been able connect with an ever-expanding network of farmers and growers to source materials from. I have played with some of Hawaii’s dreamiest botanicals, and been able to incorporate them into Elixirs or infuse them into Limited Batch formulas. While the Ethnobotany degree turned out to not be what I was looking for, I was lucky enough to land in the last graduating class of the World Medicine Institute for my Masters in Herbology and Acupuncture.

As I set my mind to the new year and next decade, I have no idea quite how it will unfold — but I have lots of ideas for the future of Indigo Elixirs. I look forward to continue sharing my creations in all the ways that will best serve you. Thank you for being here, and a part of my journey!

Indigo Elixirs Apothecary

Indigo Elixirs 2019

January 09, 2020 by Deanna Rose
Elixir Collective No. 20 ~ Citrus Cream

Elixir Collective No. 20 ~ Citrus Cream

Woven into every culture is a rich tapestry of wellness rituals — age-old practices to worship our bodies with the plants growing around us. While many of my creations involve intuition and experimentation, I always find wisdom and inspiration in the recipes of yesteryear that have long been passed down. As usual, some of the best-kept secrets are not written in books, but rather are kept alive through family traditions and found in some of the more remote and exotic places on the planet. This month’s offering is my take on a beloved recipe from Thailand, by way of a friend who traveled there and experienced a magical shampoo made from one very special local ingredient....
Elixir Collective No. 19 ~ Mocha Mud

Elixir Collective No. 19 ~ Mocha Mud

Amongst nature’s vast rainbow of botanical delights, the sweet nectars of the tropics are some of the most alluring ambrosias under the sun. Hawaii has become a home to such delectable flora as cacao, vanilla, coffee and sugarcane — each with intoxicating flavors and aromas that are almost universally beloved by the human palette. Through various forms of alchemy we are able to transform these otherwise inconspicuous and inedible fruits into masterpieces of delight; heat, fermentation, pressure and distillation are all involved in their metamorphoses into mediums that we can enjoy....
Elixir Collective No. 18 ~ Afterglow Potion

Elixir Collective No. 18 ~ Afterglow Potion

The height of summer feels like the time of year when lotions are ideal: because of their dual nature, they are inherently lighter on the skin and absorb easily without feeling heavy. The Afterglow Potion was conceived to be the perfect aftersun care formulation — every ingredient within this velvety smooth serum is there to help your skin repair from long days in the sun...
July 31, 2019 by Deanna Rose
Elixir Collective No. 17 ~ Manoa Mist & Aromatic Armor

Elixir Collective No. 17 ~ Manoa Mist & Aromatic Armor

Most days in the back of the valley, the clouds kiss the mountain tops and wisps roll down their sides as if the cosmos were gracing us with their presence. In Hawaiian, the word Manoa means lush and deep, and both are perfect descriptors for this jungly Honolulu neighborhood microcosm. The June Elixir Collective featured an exclusive pre-release of Manoa Mist, an Atmosphere Spray inspired by this beautiful valley...
Elixir Collective No. 16 ~ Sunbather Salve

Elixir Collective No. 16 ~ Sunbather Salve

The Sun — an enigmatic celestial body so magnificent that gods were created just to explain its existence. Sunlight is crucial to our health, both for body and mind, as it activates cellular reactions on the surface of the skin that are essential for our survival. But just the right balance of sun exposure is key: too much (or too little) can be detrimental to our livelihood. The May Elixir Collective featured a product I've long been working on that incorporates photoprotectant botanicals from around the world into an experimental Sunbather Salve...
Elixir Collective No. 15 ~ Black Rose Cleanser

Elixir Collective No. 15 ~ Black Rose Cleanser

A paradox within its own chemical makeup, soap is one of the only natural substances able to perform the small but mighty molecular miracle of binding to both oil and water. This rare feature is what makes it so good at what it does — and why it has been reveled by humans for many thousands of years. The April Elixir Collective subscription box was centered around the Limited Batch Black Rose Cleanser, a gentle face & body wash crafted from African Black Soap infused with local & organic hydrosols...
May 05, 2019 by Deanna Ahigian
Earth Day Vows

Earth Day Vows

In honor of Earth Day, let's all take a moment to renew our vows to the planet individually and as a species. As living, breathing beings we require energy and create waste, but to minimize our footprint for the sake of the earth is part of our due diligence. The following list consists of my top 10 life hacks for reducing my personal impact on the planet...

 

Elixir Collective No. 14 Rooted Honey

Elixir Collective No. 14 ~ Rooted Honey

Food is medicine is beauty. The enclosed offering is truly rooted in this philosophy, with an elixir that can flow with ease from your kitchen to your first aid kit to your skin care routine. Rooted Honey is a classic staple in my apothecary for its broad versatility and healing potency: a combination of three ingredients come together and augment one another for this immune-enhancing, disease-fighting, inflammation-reducing blend...
Elixir Collective No. 13 ~ Love Oil & Lover's Elixir

Elixir Collective No. 13 ~ Love Oil & Lover's Elixir

Having evolved for far longer a time frame than we can even truly comprehend, plants are the original artists of attraction. With a rather stationary status, the survival of flora required pollinators to come to them: for freely moving creatures to to be so allured by their scent and sight that they would stop to take a sip of nectar and pass along their seed. February's Elixir Collective potions, crafted for the upcoming holiday in celebration of love, incorporate all of my most beloved botanical aphrodisiacs...

February 20, 2019 by Deanna Ahigian