We caught up with Beth Hopkins, founder of Shamanuti, a natural skin care line that we just can’t get enough of this summer. Here’s what Beth had to say about getting in touch with your roots (literally) and turning your passion into a successful business:
Tell us a little about Shamanuti? Why did you start it? Was there a need that you saw in the market or are you following a personal passion?
As a nature enthusiast and devout lover of art, the simple question of which beauty products I liked sparked a fascinating investigation into the American skin care experience and aesthetic identity. The momentum of that passing inquiry created Shamanuti.
What’s behind the name?
Shape shifters! ”Shaman” + “Beauty” = Shamanuti.
How did you get interested in natural beauty?
It sits at the intersection of two of my greatest interests, science and creativity. I have always studied plants closely and observed that plants are important natural allies. My professional work has been centered in the fine and decorative arts. This meeting point of nature and aesthetics resonated with me. It’s where I belong.
Tell us a little about your making process, ingredients you use, how you source them. Any special or unusual tools or equipment you use?
Throughout the chain of production, we are invested in supporting sustainable environmental and social performance. We insist on working closely with our raw material sources. Terroir, micro-climate, and natural pollinators figure significantly into our end product. All of our bases are cold processed with clay slabs so that the ingredients are not denatured by chemical extraction.
How did you decide on what products to make? Do you have a favorite?
We have a saying in the company that any ingredient that has not been used for over a hundred years in skin care should be viewed with skepticism. We champion ingredients that reflect our respect for the American landscape’s diversity and abundance. There are no favorites. Each ingredient has its virtues.
What inspires you?
The fully expressed. A worthy opponent. Capability. Sweat.
Tell us a bit about your workspace? Where is it? How’s it set up?
Shamanuti began in the heart of Cambridge. We have since moved our workroom studio to a restored carriage house in historic South Natick. Here we do daily operations and product development. Our fulfillment facility is a family operation on the South Coast of Massachusetts.
Any music you need to have on or rituals you need to do in order to work?
Sure, I work best when I get out with my dog for a good morning loop. I am known to stream NPR, but really draw on diverse creative resources to prevent over-habituation. I try to keep the creative process spontaneous.
Best thing: Independence and integrity are the best. I like being able to understand and control the entire process. Watching it grow, becoming bigger, becoming autonomous.
Most challenging thing: Responsibility to steward a brand’s identity. The number of decisions that must be made on the spot while keeping myself out of the way. Having that discernment.
Any advice you’d like to give others who are thinking about starting a business?
“Keep it all out in front of you.” I learned this from skiing. If you get ahead of your skis you wipe out; if you fall behind you careen out of control. Stay in your center and you can see and steer your course.
Are there any new projects you are particularly proud of or currently working on?
We are working on a distillate for Windows of Hope at Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center and expect to sponsor or participate in some meaningful way with the next Medicines from the Earth Conference, which is spearheading credible peer-reviewed studies in the use of botanicals.
What’s on the horizon?
We’ve been on an extensive foray this summer. We are in earliest development for topical uses of angelica, borage, and elder flower. This fall we will be releasing our Shamanuti Hair Mud (scalp revitalizer) and Jasmine Hair Balm, fabulous for repairing the ravages of summer.
To learn more about Shamanuti, click here.