Field Interview: Irene Ora Newton-McClenning, Lumen Naturae
Today's interview is with Irene of Lumen Naturae. This holiday season will be Irene's first time selling with Field of Artisans. We're so excited to welcome her and her lovely work to the Field! She has an extensive plant knowledge, along with a great amount of love and respect for the environment. Her holistic devotion to her craft shines through the Lumen Naturae collection. I loved getting to know Irene through this interview and am excited to spend time with her THIS SUNDAY, 12/3!
Find Lumen Naturae in the Field at Whalers Brewing Company on:
SUNDAY, 12/3 11:30-4:30
1. What does your name, Lumen Naturae mean and how did you come up with it for your business?
Lumen Naturae means the light within the darkness, or the light of nature. I first came across it while reading some of the works of C. G. Jung, and it really resonated with me. I had been exploring a lot of his work, and the like, while beginning my journey with my product line. The light within the darkness is pretty much ones subconscious, and to see the light is for one to become conscious. I knew that I wanted to create products to help people take care of themselves consciously, and to be present. I feel that what Lumen Naturae means is ultimately where I want to take my vision for the business, to free oneself. Making natural personal care products are only the start. I have so many ideas I can’t wait to bring to light!
2. Lumen Naturae consists of self care products ranging from herbal bath soaks to herbal teas. Do you have core products that you are always creating and have readily available?
The herbal soaks and steams are my core products. Other products are readily available, but do take time. The herbal oils can take up to 4-6 weeks to come to completion, so certain items might not be available due to these processes. My line is very plant focused, as I have always had a love for them. I’m constantly taking herbalism courses with many different teachers, and really trying to just live and breath plants. They have so much to teach us!
3. When you say that your line is vegan, what does this mean? What are some non vegan ingredients that are often found in self care products and what do you substitute them with?
Vegan means to abstain from using any animal products in all areas of life as humanly possible. All of my products are plant based, and contain no byproducts from animals, even insects. That includes beeswax and honey. There are many other sources of waxes and sugars that aren’t produced by bees. For instance, I make an Elderberry syrup for myself during the winter months to help fight off sicknesses. Traditionally this syrup requires a lot of honey, but I use maple syrup instead. I’m originally from Vermont and have Sugar Makers in my family, so I am a strong advocate for maple syrup. It contains many key nutrients such as iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6. It is also an amazing antioxidant to help fight free radicals. And of course never any animal testing, EVER!
4 . You infuse herbs in oils rather than using essential oils. What's your favorite herb to work with and what is it's beneficial qualities?
I do use essential oils in most of my products, but I limit their use. Using the whole plant for it’s complete healing properties to me, is respecting and honoring the plant. Using essential oils is ok in moderation, but I think they are being over used, and people may not understand how potent they are. My plan is to reformulate my products to use very little essential oils, if any at all. My favorite plant to infuse would be Calendula. It’s a great remedy for ailments like wounds and chapped skin, and it can help to speed up recovery time. The smell and color when straining Calendula are amazing, and it’s included it in my Remedy Balm.
5 . Out of all the teas that you offer, which one is perfect to sip while painting, working, writing or anything that involves creative thinking?
First of all, I need to say I love tea! Drinking tea is a perfect way to supplement your personal self-care ritual, or just because! I would say that my current plant ally would be Holy Basil, or Tulsi. It is a valued adaptogen and I use it in many of my teas. I find it helps me to stay focused and relaxed while working on a project or my art. I’ll steep it on its own, or add some other herbs depending on my mood. You’ll find Tulsi in my Anahata tea, which I believe can spiritually open and heal heavy hearts and sorrows.
6. Do you harvest ingredients from your yard? How did you learn about harvesting (what to look for)? Are you self taught?
My husband and I have a good amount of land behind our house by a small river where I do forage plants, but mainly just for my personal use. Growing up in the woods of Vermont, I was always eating and playing with wild flowers, along with some other plants that were around. I was taught which were safe to handle, and which to avoid. I have fond memories as a child munching on Red clover while meandering around barefoot. I’ve also learned a lot from other herbalists, and from the courses that I have taken. One key rule is that you must always honor the plant, and never take more than necessary so that the plant is not harmed. I also don’t advise foraging without proper knowledge of plant identification, or before consulting someone you trust. Plants can be deadly, and you hear much too often about this happening. On a lighter note, I do have a couple raised garden beds and some clay pots that I use to grow several different types of plants for my products. It feels so satisfying to utilize plants that you’ve grown, and have created a connection with.
7. Your packaging is crisp and bold. Do you print your labels yourself or do you design elsewhere?
Thank you, that’s very nice to hear! I take pride in my packaging and am a perfectionist when it comes to that. The secret behind my logo and label designs is my amazing husband! He creates my labels and performs any design work that I need, and I truly appreciate it. We do print the labels at home, and after some trial and error we are pretty much pros at it. I am grateful that I don’t need to use an outside source for any of my design needs at the moment.
8. I see that you sometimes offer themed gift sets ( like the one for Valentine's Day)! Do you have any holiday gift sets coming to Field of Artisans on 12/3?
I will! I have a lovely tea gift set to offer which will include a new tea. I will also have different sized muslin bags with a holiday theme for making various gift sets, depending on the type of products that are purchased.
See more of Irene's work on Instagram !
She also sells through her online shop!