Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenny Qaqundah.
Hi Jenny, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
As a young adult, I got into health when I became a vegetarian. It felt like a natural flow to research healthy food choices. This led to a lifelong journey into physical, emotional and spiritual health for myself and the planet. I studied therapeutic herbalism in earnest in the early 1990s and started my tincture making company in 1995. After becoming a licensed RN, I opened my first apothecary, a retail herb shop and eco-friendly store. We just opened our sister store in Astoria Oregon one month ago today.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
A smooth road would not be the way I would characterize this journey. But it has been an adventurous one! I opened the retail store in Joshua Tree when we were still in a flagging economy in 2011. Many people warned against opening a retail store, but my intuition pushed me to do it.
In 2014, I fell gravely ill with sepsis, went into a coma and had to stay in an ICU for six months.
Joshua Tree rallied around my family and the apothecary, supporting both. My employees kept working and community kept shopping, keeping the store afloat.
When I came home, as a double-amputee and still very weak, I wanted to dive back into work. It took many months and setbacks, but eventually I was able to get back to manufacturing my tincture line and working in the shop.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
One of the things I am most happy about in regards to Grateful Desert is the community it forms and supports. We love to be a reference center, guiding folks to what they need if we can’t provide it for them.
It is also a place where people go to be seen and heard. I have always told my employees that we are more than a retail business. We are a place for people to let go and be energetically held, to have catharsis through tears and open up about their fears regarding their health.
We also focus on empowering folks to learn about their bodies and their health. We are guides when we can be.
The item that has been the best-seller for at least the last five years is our Middle Eastern Hair Oil. That one just flies off the shelf, and I understand it because I use it daily.
In our Essential Oil Bar world, we have been collaborating with hotels and vacation rentals. It’s really fun because we special formulate with the owners/managers to create their signature scent and we make their special line of shampoo/body wash, conditioner and lotion.
Also, as of last August, we are worker-owned and that makes me very happy. It is in alignment with my values of shared work and prosperity.
Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
I will devour most herb books, being an herb nerd and all – especially anything from my former teacher, David Hoffman. Also, Paul Bergman is a love and a wonderful herbalist and has many great reference books out there.
I love to check out the We’Moon blogs because I sometimes get too busy to stay on top of the planetary movements, and Seagrape Apothecary in Portland, Oregon has a great newsletter- I love dropping in on that one too.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: gratefuldesert.com
- Instagram: @gratefuldesert.joshuatree
- Facebook: Grateful Desert