What was once the sole form of medicine and way of life for many has since become a lost art; however, Kailah Tidwell has set out to bring focus back to what people depended on for thousands of years: folk herbalism. Tidwell, owner of Bloom Co. Apothecary, creates small batch apothecary goods and provides educational resources for those interested in a more natural approach to health.
“Folk herbalism is the practice of exploring the traditional views and uses of nature within a particular culture or region. Since I am a Black southern woman, my practice explores the native plants of the American South, as well as the traditional uses of plants in the Black American community,” says Tidwell.
Curiosity is the start to many life-changing journeys, and the same can be said for Tidwell’s dive into herbalism. “I became interested in herbalism through gardening. I always kept a small garden, and decided to learn more about practical uses for the herbs and flowers I grew. I found that many of the weeds I was mowing over in my yard were edible and had medicinal properties. From that point, I started to use the plants I found and grew to make oils, salves, and teas,” says Tidwell.
The Bloom Co. online store features a range of products from body butter to “Lavender Lover Body Oil” to a “Holy Basil Elixir” that assists with helping the body adapt to stress. All apothecary products are made from scratch with natural ingredients.
Educational resources can be found on her website in many outlets. Tidwell writes blog posts explaining different topics in herbalism to beginners looking for information on how to use their own plants and what properties different herbs possess. She also organizes more upscale educational outlets, one of which is coming up in the next couple of months.
“The Folk Herbalism Master Course that starts in April is an opportunity for people to receive detailed instruction on how to safely explore nature, get familiar with plant life in their area, and create their own herbal preparations,” says Tidwell. The course will last from April to July. Tidwell shares that there are other ways to learn more about herbalism from her, “I also use my Instagram page to occasionally share free information on ways to incorporate plants into your daily life and spiritual practice.”
For beginners, Tidwell has a few tips to share: “I highly recommend taking a look at publications from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension, and taking advantage of the upcoming warmer weather to go on nature walks and research what you find. I have a free Herbalism for Beginners blog series with a ton of information on my website as well,” she says.
Bloom Co. first began in 2017 and in the four years since its start, the herbalist community has blossomed. More and more people are becoming interested and learning how to be folk and spiritual herbalists themselves. Tidwell has made many plans for the next year to continue sharing her knowledge with those interested. “I’ll be teaching the Folk Herbalism class from April-July this year, and sharing seasonal products from my home apothecary on the first of each month. The products in my online shop are made in small batches, based on the availability of the plants used to make them,” she says. Staying true to herself and her craft, Tidwell’s attention to self-care and authenticity will drive her. “My goal is to take things slowly and enjoy my work this year. I only want to share products that are made carefully and with intention.”
“I am a born and raised Arkansan with deep pride for my home state. I am deeply grateful for the ways that the people of Arkansas (especially my hometown Camden and new home, Little Rock) have supported my business since 2017, and allowed me to work with people all over the nation. I am so thankful for the outpouring of love since the pandemic started. I truly enjoy what I do, and hope to continue sharing my work for years to come.”
Learn more about Kailah Tidwell’s shop and educational resources on her website.