I'm Kristin. The herb loving, multi-passionate and solo woman behind The BodyWise BirthWise Store.
I'm a Naturopath, Childbirth Educator and Doula based in Fremantle, Perth, Western Australia.
The short story...
For the past 22 years I've worked holistically within the pregnancy, birthing and postnatal circles.
It’s been rewarding, inspiring and pretty awesome!
When I'm not doing this, I'm relishing family time or... listening to podcasts, downing short machs, day dreaming, eating avocados, floating in the ocean, hiking, reading research, dancing to house and disco (mostly just in the kitchen these days), watching docos, rollerskating, binge-watching Outlander or power-napping.
The long story...
Herbs were a normal part of my childhood.
I'd feel all grown up sipping on chamomile and catnip tea with my mum before bed.
I’d get so much satisfaction in squeezing the inner gel from juicy leaves of aloe vera - for my sunburn.
I'd feel all medicine-woman-like wrapping the thick, broad and slightly bruised leaves of the comfrey plant around my ankle as a poultice. This was to remedy my rollerskating strains!
Our family bookshelf held the now classics; Hygieia: A Woman’s Herbal (1979) by Jeannine Parvati, and Everywoman (1978) by Derek Llewellyn-Jones.
These sat alongside my mum’s midwifery texts. One of which was the 1984 edition of Mayes’ Midwifery. It's no surprise I heard all about birth and babies from a young age.
We took vitamin C daily and cod liver oil capsules. I didn't even know what 'cod liver oil' was but I took it. For any illness in our house, food was medicine plus 'weird stuff from the stinky health food shop'. And sleep. This was the '80's.
I can remember being fascinated by the human body from an early age. I learned a lot from my mum; a nurse, midwife and clinical educator. As a competitive swimmer for many years, I also worked out how I could push those PBs, when outside of the pool.
I took magnesium and herbal concoctions for period pains. None of my friends were doing this. I took valerian tea for year 12 stress-induced insomnia.
After school I 'dabbled' in 1-2 years of a teaching degree at university, majoring in health education. Then they changed the course structure so health education was no longer a major stream. Ugh. I could only choose my major from physical education or outdoor education. No. Thank you.
I spent the next couple of years trying to 'sort my life out.' Always at the gym anyway, I decided to train as a fitness instructor (yup, classic 90's aerobic style). It was good for a while, but not enough.
All the while I continued the search and tried to fine tune and direct my passions. I knew I wanted to teach people about health but hadn't worked out in what capacity.
Then (finally) the epiphany arrived. To go with what made the most sense - nutrition and herbal medicine. Then I was off!
For the next 6 months, I borrowed library book after library book. As funds were low, I only bought the books the library didn't have and couldn't get. I still have these today. If only the internet existed at that point!
I read all about nutrition, herbal medicine, the history of herbs and their uses, iridology and naturopathic systems of medicine. I was hooked.
At the same time I 'healed myself' of some niggling dermatitis with the aid of calendula, evening primrose oil and a cleaner diet. Who knew?!
The following year I was accepted into a 4-year Bachelor of Naturopathy degree at an interstate university. So I packed up my life and moved from Melbourne to northern NSW on my own.
Not long after I had graduated, I landed probably the best fresh-out-of-uni job as a Naturopath.
I managed a herbal dispensary within a multi-disciplinary clinic. In Byron Bay.
I provided over-the-counter short consults and prescribed herbal tinctures and supplements every day.
I had to think on the spot, know my herbs inside and out, any potential drug interactions or contraindicated conditions, be able to take a short but thorough case history, create a formula (or two) and dispense. All here.
There would be tonics made up for coughs, colds, insomnia, period pain, cystitis, indigestion, worms, acne, constipation, seasonal allergies, diarrhoea, ‘liver detox’, stress/nervous tension, sore throats, digestive woes, PMT, birth prep and breastmilk supply.
I was given free rein to build up the dispensary and I went on to fill every spot on those shelves! (the photo is proof of this)
I loved the smell of every individual herb. Some so pungent they’d make your eyes water! Some sweet, some earthy, some bitter. Roots, rhizomes, barks, berries, leaves, flowers, aerial parts.
I loved the different colours that would hit the glass of the cylinder when poured.
I loved the clunk of the 500ml bottles when they touched each other.
Then I started a herbal tea and external herbs range. Because tinctures don’t suit everyone and the teas were good for kids and for long term gentle, every day use.
I made up herb skin soaks and compresses for dermatitis, rashes, sunburn. Bath herbs and compresses for nappy rash and healing after birth. Herbs for eye baths for conjunctivitis, herbs for pimple breakouts, herbs for an antiseptic mouthwash. I could go on.
I also began full consultations in the clinic rooms for the more comprehensive cases.
That same year I did postgraduate training in Natural Fertility Management™ with the infamous Francesca Naish to specialise in fertility and preconception care. I went on to work mostly with women's hormones, and care from fertility through to postpartum.
I got to celebrate a client's pregnancy and I also got to cuddle their babies many months later. The bestest feeling.
Thinking back to my clinic 'baby photo brag wall' most of these babies are now done and dusted with high school!
After a couple of years I was drawn to the bright lights and opportunities of the city.
So again, I packed up my life and moved to Sydney on my own. I continued to practise as a Naturopath in two separate clinics and loved being able to geek out at all the industry conferences. This was 2001.
On a random night out at a nightclub on Oxford Street, I met the man of my dreams on the dance floor.
A year later we moved to WA and went on to have two beautiful babies.
I continued to practise within my speciality in between having my own babies.
I then went back for more postgraduate training and completed my Graduate Diploma in Childbirth Education. As I really wanted to bridge the gap between the last pregnancy naturopath visit and the first postnatal naturopath visit.
Then as an Independent Childbirth Educator I began running Active Birth Workshops that were mostly full of my pregnant naturopathy clients.
This continuity of care was super rewarding and I loved working with mamas across this evolving time.
It was here my Doula work evolved. As some of my clients asked me to support them at their baby's birth. It was beautiful full circle stuff. This was 2006.
Fast forward to 2012. I was a busy mum and working as a Childbirth Educator and Doula within my own business.
I also spent 3 years being Perth's presenter for Beer & Bubs: Childbirth Education for Dads at the Pub program.
Although I'd taken a break from consulting, I always weaved my naturopathy and herbal magic into my work with pregnant and postnatal clients.
Then a doula client's friend on the other side of the country wanted "some of what she was having." This was when I decided to take my herbal products online.
When it began in 2012, there were just a handful of herbal teas and a couple of postnatal bath herb mixes.
The online store was launched in 2015 and now in 2021 the range has blossomed to 35 handmade products.
About the products
They are all proudly Naturopath (me) formulated and handmade (by me) from start to finish.
Wherever possible I source 100% Australian Certified Organic (ACO) herbs and ingredients.
ACO herbs means they’ve been grown without the use of synthetic or toxic substances for a 3 year minimum period. They also contain no added artificial colours or fragrances.
The term ACO is overseen by a number of internationally recognised bodies. My herb suppliers are audited each year to guarantee organic integrity and strict certification standards.
They say tea blending is both alchemy and art. This rings true even more when using medicinal herbs.
My herbal teas are packed in recycled, biodegradable Earth Bags or reusable tea canisters.
The tinctures and capsules are always made to order to ensure optimal potency.
The sprays, balms and oil blends are always small batch productions. Any herb-infused oils used in formulas are from the traditional solar/cold infusion method. I love to keep it old school here.
I've had a lifelong love affair with herbal medicine. I love their idiosyncrasies and I geek out on the history. I love the folklore just as much as the modern science.
Working hands-on with herbs is like therapy. It grounds me and magically solves most of my problems. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them.