As two best-friend Mamas ourselves, we always try to round up a good pair of pals to connect and chit-chat about something close to their own hearts. This week, our friend + beauty guru Mary interviews her buddy Jana from the beloved wild-harvested product line Captain Blankenship. Click for this week's doubled-up MA CRUSH!
Jana Blankenship is the owner of Captain Blankenship, a line born out of Jana’s desire to create organic beauty products that create a direct link with nature. Cold pressed organic plant oils, flowers, seaweeds, sea salt and organic essential oils bring us back to the primacy of experience with the land and sea. Her mantra is “beauty wild with nature.” She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and two children, Mila, 2, and Caspian, 7 months. Mary Lugones is the curator of organic beauty and wellness products for Rodale’s, an ecommerce shop focused on organic and sustainable goods. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband Greg and two children, Emilia May, 4, and Teddy, 3 months.
ML: I’d love to start with your inspiration for Captain Blankenship and how it came to be.
JB: The beginning of the story is…growing up in Cambridge, MA as the little girl running barefoot, infusing pine needles, making potions in the yard, discovering the scents of nature. My mother was a fashion designer and had this crazy mirrored vanity covered with vintage perfume bottles and perfumes. She would let me play with them. I’d add every single ingredient together to see what they smelled like. I actually ended up developing an allergy to synthetic fragrances because of it! I preferred the smell of roses growing in our yard, the scent of crushed mint leaves versus a bar of lavender scented soap from the drugstore. It was the 80’s, so synthetic fragrances were everywhere!
In 2005 I moved to Berkeley, CA. My background is in art and I was missing working with my hands. I took a perfumery class with Mandy Aftel, She has a beautiful range of exquisite perfumes and also makes custom scents. It is a fine, fine art. It’s like visiting another universe when I go to her house. She became my mentor – her line (www.Aftelier.com) is bold, inspired, and full of integrity. I feel grateful that she is so proud and supportive of me. If I have a quandary, she is there to give advice. I feel very lucky for that.
From my relationship with Mandy I really committed to scent as the heart of Captain Blankenship. Living in California at the time we spent so much of our time on the coast; hiking, being outdoors. I wanted the line to use beautiful wild and organic ingredients to evoke the experience of being in nature.
ML: What was the first product you ever made?
JB: I started with making simple perfumes and lip balms. My first ever perfume was called ‘Scent of Hawaii’!, but my first true product for Captain Blankenship was our Meteor Spray. It’s a perfume spray using organic vetiver, pine, and ylang ylang. It’s the scent of walking to the beach in the town where I spent my weekends in Marin County, mixed with the smell of the damp forest.
ML: How do you get inspired for new products? Is it based on your own needs for your life or is it inspired by the discovery of new ingredients or trends?
JB: They aren’t trend focused at all. I don’t follow that part of the industry. It starts with what do I want to use on myself? My family? What do my friends want? I’ll hear something like ‘I would love to find an organic equivalent of….” and off I go.
The scent profile inspiration emerges when I’m out hiking or out for a run. I use nature for when I need to come to a decision, compose an idea, create a recipe. I get up, and go outside.
ML: What does an average day look like for you?
JB: (laughs) I don’t know! You don’t know what your day looks like until your kids are waking you up- which was at 6:30 am this morning. I make them breakfast, I try to remember to feed myself. I by habit am NOT a morning person, so getting up with them forces me to be present at that time of day. I love my mornings, they are such sweet, quiet time. Then I’ll drive my daughter to school and head off to our new studio, which I’ve conveniently set up to be a five-minute drive from our house. I always have Caspian (7 months) with me, he’s my little co-pilot.
ML: When I was pregnant I got the great advice that being a parent forces you to make better decisions faster. How has being a mama influenced you as a business owner and creator?
JB: Yes! Being both a mom and business owner, I have to be so much more efficient. I can’t waste energy! I used to deliberate way too long over things. Now I trust my instinct and go with my gut. My family helps me focus. I made a LOT of products in the beginning. Now I feel the need to simplify and edit my offering, most importantly never compromising on the integrity of the ingredients. Captain Blankenship is beautiful product, pure and simple. Now that I have children, I think maybe that they’ll take over the brand, maybe their friends will be using the products in future…..
ML: Finish this sentence: “Motherhood is….”
JB: An adventure! Being present. And always trying to be your best self.
Keep your eyes peeled for more from Mary + Jana including a round-up of their favorite organic products!