For the seventh installment of our Student Feature Series, we spoke with holistic esthetician and massage therapist Katie Woods. Katie is enrolled in our Advanced Herbal Course and she applies her herbal knowledge toward running her business, @ritual_skincare. She’s passionate about helping her clients use herbs to find inner health and balance, which translates to external radiance.
HA: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, Katie! Tell us, how did your herbalism journey begin?
Katie Woods: I own Ritual Skincare and Apothecary in Burlington, Vermont where I work as a holistic esthetician and massage therapist with a focus on plant-based skincare and face massage. After working with clients for years, I’ve learned that herbs can be a wonderful tool for nourishing their internal health and finding balance, which is often then reflected externally in radiant skin.
Learning about herbs through the Herbal Academy has drastically enhanced my knowledge of how to use herbs with my clients to create balance in the nervous system as well as the skin.
Skin health is connected to the health of our internal organs, especially the digestive system, the nervous system, and the lymphatic system. Understanding herbs—and how they can support these systems—has been invaluable to my practice.
HA: Why did you choose the Herbal Academy for your studies?
Katie Woods: I have friends who attended the Herbal Academy and had raving reviews of it. I have attended herbal schools in the past but choose to extend my herbal training through HA because the teachers are incredible, I can study at my own pace at home, and there is always so much more to learn in the herbal world. The course content is very diverse and it really inspires many different ways in which you can actually turn your herbalism knowledge and passion into a career.
Plus, It’s so amazing to be with a group of like-minded plant people! I find it so interesting to hear the different perspectives, recipes, and experiences of the community. I believe we are all students and teachers, and the online community really enhances that experience.
HA: How has your herbal education deepened your connection with your personal health and well-being?
I tend to be an anxious person, especially after living the city life in San Francisco for many years.
Plant and skincare rituals feed my soul, soothe my nervous system, and bring me back to the present moment. My experience with herbs has really been life-changing in so many ways, but especially in grounding my nervous system.
HA: How has your herbal education deepened your connection with nature and the seasons?
Katie Woods: Since being back in my home state of Vermont where seasons are so dramatic and vast, herbalism has enabled me to connect with the ebbs and flows of Mother Earth, as well as the ebbs and flows of being human. The seasons help me tune in to my body, better enhancing my relationship with herbs. As that relationship deepens, I can better implement herbalism to support my changing physical and mental needs throughout the year.
HA: Do you feel empowered by your herbal practice? If so, how?
Katie Woods: I absolutely do! Understanding how herbs work with the body both internally and externally has really improved my skincare consultations and services in my business. It’s given me incredible tools and knowledge to help my clients ground their own nervous system as well as create external radiance. It’s all connected!
HA: Have you learned more about your ancestral roots and traditions through your herbalism studies? If so, what have you learned?
Katie Woods: Yes, I have!
I am of Irish heritage and have been diving deeper into the incredibly rich herbal culture of ancient Ireland. It’s been fascinating to discover that many of the plants I’ve been attracted to and love working with were used through my lineage.
The ancient Celts and Druids were holistic and spiritual people who preferred to live close to nature to fulfill their love of the land and their belief that they were the caretakers of Mother Earth. Some of their most magical and medicinal plants included nettle, bilberry, burdock, dandelion, willow, and comfrey.
HA: Do you have any rituals or traditions surrounding herbalism that you would like to share?
Katie Woods: One of my all-time favorite skin health rituals soaking in an herb- and salt-infused bath, dry brushing, and then smothering my body in herb-infused body oil. This has been a beautiful self-care practice that soothes my nervous system, creates movement in my lymphatic system, and nourishes my skin and spirit. I also have a daily practice of self facial massage with skin-nourishing oils. I believe this is key to skin health and radiance.
HA: Do you enjoy sharing your herbal knowledge with others in your life?
Yes! I am actually an herb school teacher with a focus on herbal beauty. Teaching my craft and what I’ve learned over the many years of owning my spa has brought me so much joy. I am in a unique niche that has enabled me to teach students and clients through herb school, blog posts, the treatment room, skincare products, and my social media channels. Teaching and sharing my knowledge is one of my greatest joys alongside being a forever student.
HA: How has herbalism sparked your creativity?
Katie Woods: In countless ways! Simply the fact that herbs soothe my nervous system has enabled my creative juices to flow. It’s impossible to not be inspired by plants—the taste, the aroma, the beauty, the energy, the diversity, and their innate ability to balance and heal. Plants definitely spark my creativity because they inspire me to continue learning and experimenting.
HA: If you could provide any tip or encouragement to those just starting their herbal studies, what would it be?
I would tell them to get outside and find time to connect with plants as much as possible. Don’t just be a keyboard or book herbalist! Be sure to take time to physically and emotionally connect with the plants. Most importantly, be ready for it to truly be a lifelong learning experience!
HA: Tell us, what’s next for you in your herbal journey?
Katie Woods: I recently moved from San Francisco, CA to my home state of Vermont where I am in the process of reopening Ritual Skincare and Apothecary in Burlington, VT. I will soon be living on my land in Vermont, hopefully creating my own herb garden and continuing to teach beauty workshops. I look forward to learning about and being with the indigenous plants of my home state.
Connect with Katie on Instagram @ritual_skincare or via her website www.RitualSkincare.co.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our Student Feature Series with Chelsea Stephens, the herbal hair color specialist behind @wildflower.and.the.rose.
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Inspired by Katie’s herbal journey? Further your own journey today by perusing our online herbal courses.
Photo credit: All images in this post are by Elena Graham (@laeiou)