ABOUT WILD LEAVES
BRINGING MORE HERBS, PLANTS, & OHM INTO YOUR LIFE WITH DAILY RITUALS.
The rejuvenating freshness of walking into the forest and connecting to nature is often missing in our daily lives. When work and the daily grind take up most of our day, going out into nature feels so far away, like something for dreamers (raise your hand, dreamers! I see you), especially if you're living in the city.
When life gets really busy I dream about hopping on my bike and riding off to faraway places for days with friends, or a trip to the sea where a day feels like a short eternity in the best way possible. But my ambitious pragmatist isn't always on the same page as my nomadic dreamer. Maybe you know the way.
Having more herbs, plants, and nature at home is closer than you think. At Wild Leaves, we're here to bring nature directly to you. Our earthy Adaptogen Mushroom drinks nurture more focus, health, and performance as part of your daily ritual. While our natural skincare sheds light on the power of European plants and nourishes your cells with vegan, cruelty-free, and locally sourced ingredients. Wild Leaves is for you if you're craving more herbs and plants in your daily life - even if all you have time for is applying your favorite plant skincare or enjoying a warm, soothing drink. Nature most definitely has a place in our homes.
Mushrooms have got a bad rap in the past, but believe me, mushrooms are your pals. A fun fact about mushrooms is that they are more closely related to humans than plants! It's hard to believe but it's true. One of these similarities is demonstrated by this simple kitchen hack: place your mushrooms in the sun for 15-20 minutes and they will absorb and retain the vitamin D (just like the human body) and transfer it into your system when you eat them!
Edible mushrooms are generally found in 3 categories: culinary mushrooms in the kitchen, psychedelics, and medicinals. Adaptogen mushrooms fall under the category "medicinal mushrooms" – that you can also use in the kitchen! So what are adaptogens? Adaptogens are a category of herbs, plants, and mushrooms that help restore cells back to their natural healthy state. Basically, they help stave off stress in our cells and form a broad target group, meaning they can reach basically all cells (rather than just targeting cells in certain areas of the body).
Our Adaptogen Chai and Adaptogen Gold drinks are loaded up with Lion's Mane, Reishi, and Tremella to help drive focus, clarity, and performance. Studies even show that Lion's Mane is a key ingredient in preventing and even reversing diseases like Alzheimer's, for example. Combined with plant roots and seeds known for their anti-inflammatory properties like ginger, turmeric, anis, celery seeds and cloves, our Adaptogen drink line can be integrated into your morning or evening ritual as a coffee alternative without the crash-and-burn effect of caffeine.
Mushrooms are having a moment and you don't have to be a mycophile (= mushroom lover) to enjoy the benefits of Adaptogen Mushrooms. If you want to find out more, check out our page about adaptogens.
If eyes are the mirror to our soul, then the skin is the window to our inner world. It can provide insight into what is going on in our gut, our emotional state, and other organs.
As your body's largest (detox) organ, your skin provides a surface and exit point for toxins that want to get out. When digestion is off, or the toxins are not being eliminated properly, your skin will often show signs in the form of a rash or skin "issue".
The relationship between gut balance and clear skin came to light around 1930, when dermatologists John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury first proposed a gut-brain-skin unifying theory, connecting emotional states (stress, depression, worry, and anxiety) to altered gastrointestinal tract function (changes that cause alterations to the microbial flora). This imbalance can, in turn, promote local and systemic inflammation, showing up as skin conditions such as acne.
There are generally 3 root causes for skin issues: systemic or local inflammation, gut imbalance, and hormones - all of which are influenced by how we nourish our bodies and minds. A healthy gut is where 70-80% of your immunity is so the state of your digestive will ultimately affect every area of your being.
The right skincare can provide external protection and locally help the skin microbiome maintain a balance, while Adaptogen Mushroom drinks with ingredients holding anti-inflammatory properties nourish the gut, mind, and well-being.
It's all about the right rituals. And we have you covered.
THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE BRAND
ERIN SCHAFRANEK | Founder & CEO
I created Wild Leaves for all of us longing for some more nature in our daily lives – even if sometimes all we have are the simple morning and nighttime rituals of enjoying a soothing warm drink or applying our favorite plant-based skincare.
My experience and passion as an herbalist-in-training, skincare formulator, athlete, foodie, and nature advocate have led me here. Wild Leaves is how I live and I want to share my knowledge with you so you can benefit, too. I want to help create a space for people craving more connection to nature, a holistic approach to self-care, and more nature in our daily lives. Want to read more? Below you can find out the dirty details behind founding Wild Leaves.
The Wild Leaves Journey
Like many people, I didn’t grow up in nature. I grew up in the suburbs of a big city (Detroit) and it was about as midwest USA as it gets. Spending my formative years in a sprawling metropolis was not exactly conducive to getting hands-on with the local flora either. Yet as I got a little older and ventured out into the world, I could feel nature's magnetism gently tugging at me. The problem was I never really felt comfortable interacting with nature-nature beyond surface interactions like a walk in the woods or a bike ride along a path. I didn't know how to get my hands dirty and elbow-deep with my surroundings.
Take dandelions for example. I grew up believing they were a weed meant to be pulled out of the lawn and tossed away! It was only much later that I found out that like most "weeds", dandelions are edible, and not only can you eat them, but they’re loaded with healing properties widely used in the kitchen and in naturopathy.
Fast forward a few years to me setting off into the world as a curious adult. At first, I did what I thought we were meant to do: I got a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, aimed for the dream job. But, although I’m ambitious, corporate life was never for me. City life was also never for me although I gravitate towards it. Moving to Europe in my early 20s and trying to put down roots in a completely new country wasn’t as easy as I had imagined it either. Just envision an early-year Millennial riding on the promise of "Get your college degree and the world will be your oyster" showing up in Europe without a job, visa, or home, and a dwindling $300.
If this sounds like I was hurtling towards an existential “Who-am-I-and-where-do-I-belong?” crisis, then you are absolutely right.
Yet still, I followed the narrative of doing what I thought I was supposed to do. I tried every avenue to make the office "dream" work but it just wasn't for me. It felt like I was merely holding on by threads every time I tried to follow the beaten path.
I eventually went freelance as a copywriter, editor, and translator and actually had a lot of clients and work coming in. I enjoyed it but I was plugging into the machine way too much and felt quite disconnected from nature (and myself) if I am being totally honest.
The wind-ey road to Wild Leaves.
Becoming an herbalist was a-brewin' for a few years before I even knew it. Alongside copywriting, I have been a yoga teacher since 2013. I loved teaching, traveling to India and Asia, learning about Ayurveda and TCM as well as picking up loads of new methods for meditation, bodywork, yoga, and nutrition along the way. Despite gathering lots of arrows for the bow, I still felt like I was missing the essential ingredient that would bring it all together. My standards are really high so the only way I wanted to put something out into the world was if I felt like I knew what I was talking about. After a couple of years of internal debate about whether to focus on herbs, acupuncture, or bodywork something finally clicked and I knew it was plants. I signed up for a 3-year herbalism course to become a practitioner to treat patients, but three years is a long time for someone who finally figured out what they wanted to be doing.
A good talk with a dear friend revealed that natural skincare would be a great route to go down so I signed up for a course to become a qualified skincare formulator. It’s pretty serendipitous in a way because even as a poor student in my 20s, I always splurged on the best natural skincare I could find (there weren’t actually many options back then). My logic was: if I only have one face for the rest of my life, I wanted to "put my best face forward" so to speak.
Skincare felt right. And combining it with my budding love and knowledge of herbs also felt right. I set out to make my own products based on my plant knowledge but then realized after some time that it’s better to work together with developers who can do regular testing in a lab. But this all takes time. A lot of time. As I was doing the footwork to find and collaborate with the right developers, the natural skincare market was blowing up fast so I had to ask myself what is the differentiator at Wild Leaves…
This led me to come back to another dream of mine. Mushrooms + Chai. Since traveling to India for the first time in 2011 to research and write my Master’s thesis, I became absolutely enamored with chai. Sipping tea from the wallas selling the simplest yet most perfect cups of masala chai on street corners or on a seemingly endless train journey felt so comforting and right. If you’ve ever had a chai in India you know the feeling. Drinking the cup of chai was also a moment of sharing – the chai is not a to-go kind of drink (unless you’re on a train). The brew’s ingredients of ginger, cardamom, black pepper, and clove (among others depending on the region) alchemize and bubble in a huge cauldron until reaching spicy perfection. Once it's steeped, you’re handed a cup from the chai walla (who brews, serves, and money exchanges) as you sit around the pot sipping away and watching the scooters and people go by.
Not being able to live in India forever though, I wanted to bring that feeling back home. I spent a long time trying to craft the perfect chai until finally, it happened!
Enter the mushrooms.
During my last trip to India in 2016, I was introduced to medicinal mushrooms, Chaga actually (a pretty good story by the way!). Chaga has become somewhat of a household name as of late, but some years back it was this weird and mysterious thing that grew on trees yet still earned the title of a "mushroom". Until that point, the extent of my knowledge about mushrooms was either as an ingredient in the kitchen, a poison, or a psychedelic. When I tried Chaga tea for the first time a part of me was truly convinced I was going to get high. What really happened was I experienced medicinal mushrooms for the first time.
Why Chai when there's coffee?
Have you ever caught yourself saying: “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee?” I'd wager you have because that’s basically all of us. Why? Because coffee is addictive. It’s the lifeline to hustle and grind culture which either on a conscious or subconscious level we’re all affected by. Sometimes we really do need an energy boost, but nobody needs the jitters-crash-repeat-cycle that this fickle mistress, coffee, lures us into. Every. Single. Day.
The thing about coffee is that its caffeine hits the adrenals hard. Real hard. It puts our organs into overdrive while dehydrating our cells and making us tired from our core. When this happens, going for more seems like the only viable option because… hustle culture. The drink that we use every day as a lifeline to our energy and success just wasn't living up to its promise. Or my expectations of what I want from an energizing drink.
Mushrooms are having a moment.
Medicinal mushrooms have been well-established in the kitchen and in natural holistic practices on other continents, but they’ve yet to really take root in Europe. With the cognitive, health, and performance benefits medicinal mushrooms offer, they can provide natural energy and focus without falling into the familiar jitters-crash-repeat cycle.
As a big fan of seemingly weird holistic connections throughout the body and all things gut-brain-skin axis, bringing some nomadic yet down-to-earth vibes from my travels back to Europe felt really aligned. The cosmic lovechild of mushies and chai is the Adaptogen Chai. The Adaptogen Gold, which is pure anti-inflammatory goodness in a mug, is the Wild Leaves version of a turmeric latte and contains zero caffeine.
Fun and simple self-care rituals rooted in Nature.
My personal journey has been bringing more nature into my own home, an experience I want to share with you. And not only in a one-dimensional way, but really interacting with plants, mushrooms, and nature by learning to identify, forage, brew, ferment, formulate and create healthy soul food recipes in the kitchen.
Wild Leaves is all about creating community and integrating fun and simple self-care rituals rooted in nature into our daily lives.
Rituals can come in many shapes and sizes but there’s one thing they have in common: rituals are about taking care of our bodies, our minds, our spirits, and our environment while being supported by the right people and spaces.
Whether you’re into skincare, want to dabble in a new drink made with adaptogen mushrooms, or do a mix of both, we got you.
I hope you enjoy Wild Leaves and would love to hear what you think!
Rewild your Self
I believe that there is a difference between simply living your life and really living it.
Wild Leaves is a growing collection of everything I’d tell you as a friend if we were sitting together and you told me you wanted to regain your power and take charge of your well-being. Your way.
Nature, herbs, and plants provide the basis for sparking a health revolution in our bodies, well-being, and the environment – with pure ingredients for pure health and a pure state of mind. Our clean, yet complex, organic recipes, grounded in herbs and fungi, help nourish and reset your cells on a holistic level for pure, vibrant energy.
Wild Leaves is my love letter to you. It's my promise to demystify the healing benefits of plants and natural ingredients and help you bring more nature directly into your home.
Every single natural element is something special and carries a piece of identity within itself – just like each one of us. Nature provides an infinitely vast, beautifully wild world of living health to explore. I want Wild Leaves to be a platform, a safe space, where you can get real information and real products that empower you to make the best decisions for YOU.
Let’s make your herbal journey become the most epic adventure you’ve ever been on!
Here are your tools and your apron.
Let’s get started.
From Erin with love x
Founder & CEO
Bringing More Herbs, Plants, and OHM into your life with daily rituals.
We believe in the power of herbs and plants for sparking a health revolution in our bodies, well-being and environment – with pure ingredients for pure health and pure living. We aim to demystify the benefits of plants and natural ingredients so you feel empowered to become the alchemist of your own life.