WELLNESS: HYPERLOCAL HUBS
Healing and Creating through Ancestral Connections
Conversations with Jessica & Cynthia
Written by Cynthia Harry
Ever started her career in the film industry in 2007, upon her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2014, Ever began to question herself: “Can I do this? Can my body take this?” In 2017, she decided to leave the film industry and focus on her health. Her desire to find holistic methods of treating MS led to the creation of Ever’s Handcrafts. Ever shares how understanding her body and reconnecting with her grandmother influences the creative process behind her products.
Managing Illness and Working Energetically
How are you managing the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis along with your online shop? EVER: It’s been a challenging year, it’s a disability that’s so mysterious. One day, you’re walking around, or climbing, going hiking, and the next, you can’t even get up because of this heaviness, like fatigue and stiffness. It goes day by day. Right now, I’m recovering from a — I call it relapse or a flare up — with my hand, my dominant hand. I can’t write right now. Also, there’s stiffness in both of my legs. I’ve been resting and keeping it together, staying grounded and centering myself, to avoid stress. I told myself, “You’re going to leave Ever’s Handcrafts at a halt. Right now, you’ve got to worry about yourself.” During this pandemic, and with everything that’s going on, it’s really overwhelming. So you have to take a moment and really get into self-preservation mode, right?
Absolutely. Without you, your business won’t run. Tell us more about how you started this brand. EVER: I was in my first Saturn Return and I started to question a lot of things in my life. Saturn Return occurs between 29 and 31 years of age. You have, in these three years, an awakening. During my awakening, it hit me what I wanted to do next. I was a film major, working in the industry. After I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I didn’t feel I could connect with the industry anymore. I was at a crossroad. I questioned what my purpose was and what I could do, when Ever’s Handcrafts and my grandmother came into the picture. I began to bond with my grandmother who inspired my line. I wanted to figure out how multiple sclerosis was connected to my work. How can we heal ourselves in a more holistic way? At the time, I was going through treatment for my multiple sclerosis and taking harsh pills and chemicals. I wanted to try a holistic approach using teas, bath teas, salves and creams. I wanted something that was natural to gently penetrate the skin. I would ask her what her thoughts were, and we’d work together on something. She gave me some of her wisdom, like how she treated certain ailments growing up in the homeland, El Salvador. She learned healing alternatives from her mother: how to make salves, the types of herbs that can be taken orally or used as a cream. I thought, “Maybe I should test this out.”
Till this day, we are still talking about how a certain type of plant or drink from our heritage can benefit healing alongside MS. What doesn’t protect your nerves? If you get very stiff, what can we do with the stiffness? Should we do something with a tea mix? Should we do a bath mix? Like a limpia; a cleansing (bath) to remove any curses, hexes, and blockages that may have been stuck to your aura.
I started working with my family and friends asking them, “Try this out, what do you think?” Most of the time it was really good. As a practicing witch, I use elements of the practice, such as mixing of herbs, and spiritual guidance to create a product that will help you heal both spiritually and physically.
How does it affect you, to be able to pull on the knowledge of your grandmother and your ancestors? What does that connection mean to you? EVER: The connection between my ancestors and myself took a lot of patience. Generational trauma that passed down to the women of my family was a mirror I had to face before stepping into my power of becoming a full-time healing artist, apothecary owner, and a witch. There was, and still are rough patches that need to be mended. I am taking accountability for my actions, for words thrown out in anger and frustration. I’m pretty much in a period of reflection. Learning how to listen and observe became a theme during my Saturn Return. As my grandmother got older, I took the time to sit down and get to know her again. With an open heart and eyes gently observing her body language as she talked about her experiences in the homeland as a little girl. Doors were slowly opening up to explore my path. Now that my grandmother is currently living with me, I have the privilege to learn about her experiences with curanderismo (healing practices), healing techniques, plant communication, and homemade recipes that I can carry on.
What specifically led to your interest in bathing rituals? EVER: When I started my journey into the occult, one way to cleanse your aura or banish unwanted energies was to bathe with a combination of herbs, oils, and spiritual waters. This practice paralleled my experiences with limpias. When I was little, I witnessed and participated in these limpias. With curiosity, I would watch my grandmother boil herbs into a pot, prep the tub, bucket, or basin with Florida water, a candle, and herbs such as ruda (rue) and rosemary to brush areas of the body that need to be cleansed. When I thought of crafting a tea bath, I wanted to add a ritualistic element to the product line. A gentle bathing mix to unwind, connect back to your breath, to recenter. I start with a baseline herb such as lavender to reduce anxiety and restlessness then I’ll build it up with chamomile, rose, and rosemary to relieve fatigue and joint pain. The spiritual modality of the blend will enhance protection around your aura, bring in self-compassion, abundance, and stimulate physical healing.
What natural products do you find are beneficial, that help you manage the symptoms of MS? EVER: What benefited me was being open-minded to a more holistic route. Becoming a seeker of natural alternatives, my personal care routine dramatically changed. I used aluminum-free based deodorants, handmade moisturizers, creams, and bath teas to soak and soothe tight muscles from stiffness. Rest — plenty of sleep is vital for me to work through the day and to keep my legs flexible for errands or any everyday activity. Eating more fibrous vegetables, foods with high omega-3 fatty acids (vitamin D), drinking plenty of water to keep the body in check, drinking herbs such as passionflower, damiana, chamomile that promote calmness from anxiety to the mind and to be in tune with my body. Adaptogens have also been a great game changer that I have been taking on the regular. It helps my body’s ability to respond and overcome the influences of physical and biological stressors. It fights fatigue, stimulates mental performance, and keeps me motivated to push through without a crash. Aromatherapy is also a go-to when I need a gentle stimulation to create oneness, to come back to my breath.
How has COVID-19 changed your business? EVER: After I got laid off last March, it took me about a week to sit with the chaos that was happening around me, “Where do I go from here? Should I continue with EVERSHC? Will people even buy my products during a pandemic?” All these thoughts were swirling around in my head but for some peculiar reason, I felt that the universe gave me a fresh path to tread — trusting myself to the unknown. Spiritually speaking, I took a moment to understand that I had a bigger purpose with my gifts. I sat with these unsettled feelings and transmuted them into fuel, energetically and creatively, to start a brand-new collection that exhibited where my mind was. I was fascinated with the elements, deities, and concepts of the Divine. So it made sense to explore these thoughts and connect with them through a tangible medium such as a ritualistic tool. COVID-19 was a conduit to reignite my business; to push these ideas floating in my head and make them reality.
What do you do if you sell out ahead of schedule? Can you get help from anyone — do you work with other people or is it just you? EVER: I’m seriously one person, so when I sell out, I’m out. I have to figure out how much to buy in advance. And again, we’re ordering raw materials during the quarantine. Due to COVID-19, there are shipping delays. That’s always an issue now. When I sell out, customers have to wait for at least another month, because first I have to get my raw materials. I have to ask myself, “Where can I get it that’s local,” instead of waiting for it to ship from elsewhere. It still takes about a month to restock because of the shipping delays with packing materials. I look for what is available to me locally. What are my sources that are open? Where can I go in person so that I can touch the product? I make very small batches of my products. I do about 24 to 36 at a time and if it sells out, you have to wait. You gotta be patient — and I promise you I’ll make the next batch better than the last!
Healing and Making Plans
What did sales at the end of 2020 look like for Ever’s Handcrafts? EVER: I signed up for a virtual vending event, but it wasn’t strong on sales. I was more concerned about my family. We recently had the passing of my uncle. So my mind was not there. I made a decision and closed shop to focus on my family.
You took time to heal, which is important. What are you most looking forward to in 2021? EVER: I already have some big ideas. I want to shift from bath to facial with scrubs, salves, hydrosols, and healing creams that have menthol. I also want to experiment with smokes, like incense sticks as well as homemade aromatherapy. I am thinking the aromatherapy and incense sticks would be a great start to a bathing or beauty ritual accompanied with hydrosol or a face cream. I am so passionate about this. I am exploring what kind of oils would be great for dry, sensitive, and combination skin. I’m looking for oils that will soak into the skin nice and gently. Another approach that I want to take is to connect aromatherapy with color and astrology. I am looking for the most organic products to use. I don’t pick up just any ingredient to use in my products. The goal is to buy directly from a mama and papa business so that we can support each other and build reciprocity.
Workshops and the zine are organized by Slow + Sustain through the volunteer efforts of our contributors. Funding comes from both the contributors and the public.