We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenna Handloff and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenna, what matters most to you?
Creating relationships within my Community is a foundation of my small business! When I took over Aspen Botanicals is 2019 it was already an established apothecary, but it was not nurtured within my community of Steamboat Springs. I have wholeheartedly put my attention and dedication of new business ownership into revitalizing the relationship between Aspen Botanicals and members of my own community, I want my community to know that they have a place to go to, locally, for holistic support, and meeting those who share the love of herbal wellness and self care is powerful! I have found that when we have options for our own health and wellness practices we are more productive members of our society. I want to encourage that kind of community growth.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always been a student of the arts. I graduated from Concordia College – Moorhead with a degree in Theatre Arts Management and have had a hand in the world of performance art, dance, public speaking, and even the culinary arts. In 2008 I stepped into my first apothecary and was captivated once again by art – the herbal arts.
My practices as an herbalist have taken many forms over the years, and the most important aspect that I will continue to nurture is the act of caring for women, especially those in Motherhood. My first herbal creations were centered around Mom and Baby care, and I lovingly named this line Chick + Mum (you can find these self care items at Aspen Botanicals). These creations supported me through three pregnancies (one loss) and the countless pregnancies of friends and family. who became my best resources. This first phase of my herbal art practices saw teeny tiny work spaces like basement closets, constant detours due to full time mothering and the challenges of making my own way. It was even taken on the road in a vintage airsteam for a year which was difficult and made me grow exponentially as a practitioner.
In 2019, after travel life, many moves around the country, mothering two kids and continuing to make my own way, I
started to feel that my herbal interests were deepening, and so began the ritual work of crafting goods that spoke to me energetically. This transition included my deep love of herbal tea blending and drinking, ritual bathing practices and incense crafting. Today these are some of the most potent aspects of my own work. It was during this time of deeper study into my craft that I was approached by my midwife in Steamboat Springs, CO about taking ownership of her apothecary, Aspen Botanicals. I enthusiastically took that proposal and made it a reality.
The shift into business ownership has been everything but easy! I have worked to resuscitate a small local business during a pandemic, juggle an assistant teaching job alongside new business ownership to make ends meet, navigate being a working mother for the first time in years and continue to overcome the obstacles of learning to be a business owner. If not for the support of my community and my family, Aspen Botanicals would be a mere illusion.
My craft, my art, is the practice of healing and self care. When we begin to attune to our interests and needs, and those interests and needs intersect, we enhance our knowing, feeling and seeing. I find so much joy in talking to visitors about the products I create, knowing that the tea blends, salves and ritual tools are loving gifts I want to share so that others have the opportunity to experience a brighter version of themselves.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Although Steamboat Springs is revered as a winter destination, I would invite my bestie to come during my favorite season, Summer! We would start off the week with some time on the Yampa River: tubing, lounging at the “hippie hot springs,” fly fishing and walking the core trail. We would grab some happy hour drinks and eats on the patio at Aurum, right on the river.
A stroll along Lincoln Ave would take us to some of my favorite shops; The Elevated Olive for infused olive oils and vinegars, The Homesteader for some honey roasted nuts, Deja Vu to check out amazing consignment, and the Steamboat Art Co. for some local flair.
Midweek would be a hike to Fish Creek Falls and the hike at Mad Creek. We would grab some brunch at Yampa Valley Kitchen and Winona’s, and hit Clyde’s Pies for some pizza in the afternoon.
After our hiking we would schedule a reservation at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs and relax in the natural mineral springs for a couple of hours. Dinner at Harwigs would follow for some fancy plates and martinis.
We would hit a morning yoga class at Yoga Center of Steamboat overlooking the Yampa River, and then head over to the Botanic Park with a Big Iron Coffee in hand.
Our final days would be filled with a Sunset Gondola Ride, a day at Steamboat or Stagecoach lake with the Hala Paddle Boards, and eating at Hypnotic Chicken and Salt + Lime.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to thank the Wise Women before me who have passed along so much wisdom and love for the herbs. A special thanks to Herbalist / Teacher / Mentor Tonja Reichley who is incredibly influential to my herbal path.
I would also like to thank my Husband Nicholas and two children, Reznor and Dhara, for giving me the space to live unconventionally and share my magick. Their love and support is truly a gift.