Today I was at the farm, it was a bright and beautiful day. The ground was muddy from days of rain, the sheep over in the field opposite the barn were munching on grass, heavy with lambs. In the beds by the door the daffodils were up, the fennel fronds emerging and the sage looking in need of a Mediterranean break after a long, damp winter.
At the farm we do all our plant work and distilling, it is a very special place. Even without racks of flowers enveloping the place in a rich scent, it is still lovely. We went today to make an order for the Isle of Harris Distillery. We produce an Aromatic Water from Sugar Kelp for them. During the distillations the barn smells of the sea – it was described today as the scent of a fresh sea breeze – and so it is.
Today however was a little different. We did everything as usual, the coffee, the biscuits, cleaning and clearing the Alembic before refilling it, slowly labelling each bottle by hand, filling, lidding and packing. Even the dog pottered around greeting everyone. The difference was in identifying the extraordinary nature of normal – our normal. I sat and looked at each member of the team, really looked at them and realised with certainty that there is nothing as wonderful as working with strong, intelligent, funny women.
So in this post, I want to celebrate the women who make A.S APOTHECARY what it is. It is the collective energy of the ASAPOTH women that make every single pot or bottle of gorgeousness that we produce so lovely, so nurturing.
Julie and Nicky help with the making, labelling and packing. Tara usually works on marketing and PR but today she joined us to work in the barn. Emily, our plantswoman, was doing her plant magic in the distilling garden, Cammie was at the shop managing everything and Angie was wrestling with our accounts. Bell was away. Nicky Sang was in her own design studio.
Seven of these women plus me are in our late 40s/early 50s. Only Bell is in her 20s but she is wise beyond her years. I mention this because I am so proud to be working alongside women who have lived a life, who have an immense amount of experience to draw on, who aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves, who sing and dance, who understand what it is to struggle, who have borne and raised children and who are loyal, mindful and without pretence.
We live in a world where for many women ageing means the end of a career, an inability to find work, a loss of value. We are encouraged to keep looking young for as long as possible, not to please ourselves but to conform to the old chestnut that older men become distinguished but older women become haggard. Youth = beauty. Menopause = the E N D. This. is. utter. nonsense.
As I look at the women I work with, I am struck by exactly the opposite observation. They are all incredibly beautiful and talented. They are ageing naturally, they have purpose, they are valued and they are fun. We have created a system, a different way of working where kindness and respect form the foundation of our company. We talk about plans, we brainstorm ideas, we speak and we listen because if people are encouraged, they give the best of themselves and we all benefit.
Right now we see that Trump is peddling an attitude towards women that I had hoped was long gone. We are under siege from a political hierarchy that threatens to undermine many of the strides forward that women have taken since the 70’s. We can challenge the new status quo, and we must, but we can also create within our own communities strong bonds and different ways of working that encourage all women to feel strong and heard.
So, as International Women’s Day approaches I want to celebrate the strength, creativity and resilience of all the women I work with, from the ASAPOTH team to our wonderful stockists around the world, the bloggers who write so kindly about our products, our friends who allow us to pick in their gardens and all the customers who keep our business going.
Maya Angelou puts it rather well:
“It is imperative that a woman keep her sense of humor intact and at the ready. She must see, even if only in secret, that she is the funniest, looniest woman in her world, which she should also see as being the most absurd world of all times. It has been said that laughter is therapeutic and amiability lengthens the life span. Women should be tough, tender, laugh as much as possible, and live long lives. The struggle for equality continues unabated, and the woman warrior who is armed with wit and courage will be among the first to celebrate victory.”