Two weeks into her freshman year, Sierra Goldstein exited her high school campus, made a beeline for home and informed her parents she wasn’t going back. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. The straight-A student wasn’t looking to spend her teenage years goofing off. She had a plan—and it didn’t involve a traditional classroom setting.
Goldstein, 22, is the co-founder of H2a Botanicals, a successful Fort Collins-based company that creates custom-formulated skin care products that are non-toxic, plant-based, ethically sourced and hand-crafted in small batches in what used to be a garage behind her cozy home on a tree-lined street not far from the city’s charming Old Town.
Her entrepreneurial journey, Goldstein recalls, began long before high school, back when she was 10 and received a luxurious bath balm kit as one of her Hanukkah gifts. As she unwrapped the package, she had the proverbial “Aha!” moment. “It hit a button for me,” she recalls.
Inspired by her mother, Heather, whose life is guided by holistic principles, Goldstein quickly started trying her hand at making similar products, giving them as gifts to her family and friends. By the time she was 14, her repertoire had expanded to cleansers, masks, scrubs and facial oils, all of which were produced in the kitchen of the family home. When she wasn’t mixing up lotions and potions, she was completing the self-directed learning program that enabled her to graduate from high school and continue studying with an herbalist and to take college courses in biomedical science, integrative health and product development.
Soon, she was considered an authority in her field. She has been featured in the 2013 PBS documentary, “Is School Enough?,” has delivered two TEDx talks and has been a panelist at SXSW. She studied with an herbalist for four years, and has taken courses in biomedical science, integrative health and product development from both Colorado State University and the American College of Health Care Sciences. In May she begins work on a master’s degree in therapeutic herbalism from the University of Maryland online.
Her company, founded with her mother, began as Herbal Heart Apothecary, but, says Goldstein, the name “just wasn’t resonating” so three years ago it rebranded as H2a Botanicals.
She says the company is “rooted in ritual” and designed to elevate one’s beauty routine into that of a sacred practice—a ritual that begins during formulation and extends to each product’s eventual use.
Each day’s work, Goldstein says, is “Very intentional, from start to finish.” It begins with cleansing the workplace of negative vibes by smudging the room with “things I grab from the garden: rose petals, mullein, rosemary—things that smoke easily”—and we won’t over-harvest plants used in the products. “We have a team meditation and sound healing (hitting a small gong with a mallet) so that we can put all of our love and energy into what we’re making. We do our best to hold that space, to make the practice of making the product as sacred as the product itself. If we’re not in the right energetic space, we won’t make it.”
Beauty products, Goldstein believes, “Should mirror the essence of who you truly are” and that one’s skin—and the products used—should “always encompass these four words: raw, natural, radiant and beautiful.” Each product has a gem infusion—fragments, not whole stones—and include responsibly sourced emeralds, clear quartz and selenite. “We take great care in our sourcing,” she says. “We want to give back to the planet, not take from it.”
Goldstein is also on track to having H2a Botanicals become a B Corp. B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability in order to balance profit and purpose and use business as a force for good. Better-known B Corps include Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Eileen Fisher and Athleta.
One of H2a Botanicals’ best-selling products is the Rosehip & Saffron Emerald Serum, which Goldstein describes as the “ultimate complexion serum; a highly regenerative blend that integrates ancient healing herbs and botanicals with skin reviving oils and the powerful anti-aging properties of raw emeralds.” It sells for $86 per vial.
While she does have expansion plans, Goldstein makes it clear that her definition of expansion has more to do with production locations than retail outlets. “Our goal is for a slow, organic growth. We’re looking to have four spaces around the world—the Mediterranean, South Africa, South America and somewhere in the U.S. that has a longer growing season than Colorado—so that we can maintain total control of our products, give back to the spaces we occupy and employ local people. Which is why we aren’t trying to land accounts with the retail giants.”
In addition to Goldstein and her mother, the H2a Botanicals staff includes Sheri Corrado, who handles business and operations, and four others who work on an as-needed basis during production times.
Goldstein grows most of her plant-based ingredients. Her glass bottles are recyclable; tubes and cartons come from 100 percent post-consumer waste and labels are made from recycled fibers.
“We do it all here,” Goldstein says, pointing to the glass and porcelain measuring cups, bowls and stainless steel containers that line the former garage’s walls. “We started in my kitchen, then moved to (another) remodeled garage, then to a huge space in a wellness center and now back to my former garage, which I now call a cottage. We’re looking at moving to a larger space, with more room to garden, but that’s a good three years down the road.”
Goldstein says she feels blessed to have parents who encouraged me, every step of the way, and gives special credit to her mother. “Mom is very much into natural health and beauty and she taught me to take care of my skin and myself. We see the company as a legacy thing, something that bonded us even more. Our vision for it is really big, but in an authentic and intentional way.”
Products from H2a Botanicals can be purchased at h2abotanicals.com and at Balanced Thistle, HEYDAY and Blue Harvest, all in Fort Collins; Vintage Willows and Wild Roots Apothecary, both in Loveland; and Free Leaf in Greeley.
Joanne Davidson realized early on that good genes aren’t the only thing responsible for keeping skin healthy. Monthly facials with a skilled esthetician who uses products with proven ingredients also play a key role.
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