Today I meet with down-to-earth Oksana, one of my favorite people in Sayulita. (Oksana opened her heart and home to me when I first came to Sayulita.) Her smile is contagious, and her story is impressive. Five years ago she arrived in Sayulita with nothing but a heart full of dreams. Today she's the founder of a blossoming and healthy business, Sana Spices Sayulita, that's part of Sayulita's conscious community.
Oksana, you make beautifully hand-crafted herbs and spice blends. Will you explain what the real inspiration is behind Sana Spices Sayulita?
At Sana Spices, our main goal is to always have pure and freshly crafted herbs available at the local farmer's markets, including the Friday Sayulita Farmer's Market (Mercado del Pueblo).
We strive to inspire others to enjoy cooking, experiment with new flavors, and take good care of their bodies. In this particular era of over-processed food, we believe it is becoming more and more crucial to consider what you eat.
You strive for your herbs and spices to be either organic, or wild picked, and always hand-crafted. Is your ecological footprint the driving force in making (herbal) decisions?
Yes, very much so. As a herbalist, it is important to take care of our beautiful land. Our land is our food and our medicine. For example, one of the herb collector rules is to never pick all of the plants. When you take from the land, you have to make sure there is something left for regrowing. Or even better, plant more. Also, I firmly believe that when crafting spice and tea blends by hand, these spices are naturally enriched and nourished by my (positive) energy.
This summer you traveled extendedly on an almost magical quest for new herbs. Where have you been and how do you go about finding new herbs?
Before leaving Mexico, I didn't know exactly where we would go. We planned on going to Iran in search of one of the highest quality Saffron and Persian Blue salt. However, as soon as we landed in Ukraine, news came to me that a high quality Saffron is now grown locally, so we decided to change plans. My business decisions are mostly based on supporting small businesses rather than large companies that ship worldwide. Spices need to be grown in a pure environment without chemicals. They also need to have certain protocols for producing, and more over, there needs to be a profound love for what they do. The family from Lyubymivka (Ukraine) met all of our requirements.
In Poland, we discovered Lovage herb that Izabela’s (one of the team members from Sayulita Life) mom, Danusia, likes to use in her cooking. In Germany, we stumbled upon this amazing eco-salt company that has a vast variety of rare salts from all over the world! From Germany, we went to Croatia, where herbs like Lavender, wild Fennel, Bay leaves and Olives naturally grow on every corner. We also visited a 1,500 year old Croatian eco-friendly salt producing company at a little coastal town called Nin. What an amazing view, where we could see nothing but huge salt mountains for as far as our eyes could travel! In Italy (Sardinia), we discovered a lot of wild Fennel and Mirto growing. Mirto is a plant native to Sardinia, and is widely used for its berries that produce a local liquor. New herbs are usually found by listening and talking to people from the older generation and that carry a real passion for cooking. Expect Sana Spices and Tea blends with a slight European twist this season!
Besides being a great business woman, you are also a mother. Does motherhood influence the way you run Sana Spices Sayulita?
My business and family are one. They are both very important to me. Therefore, every year we combine world-schooling with business and family reunions. We also started our own spice garden in Sayulita. As a mother, I believe knowing how to grow your own food is a necessary skill to have for any child.
You are also creating a workshop room. What can we expect from a Sana Spices workshop?
Last season, we started herbal classes, requested by customers that I met at the Mercado del Pueblo. This season, we would like to build on that and create a special, home-based workshop area to host more herbal events. The focus will be on small groups, learning how to work with herbs, and creating personal spice and herb blends. Of course, putting all this knowledge into practice is a must. Therefore we love to cook with our clients and enjoy a Turkish-style coffee in our spice garden.
Oksana, if you could put one specific herb or spice in the spotlight, which would it be and why?
I would say Marigolds. I use Marigold in our Svanetian salt and teas. They are one of my favorite flowers. They represent our connection to the ancestors. Their scent and taste is very unique and healing. They also bloom in fall, which is my favorite season.
Oksana, where can we find you?
You can find Sana Spices Sayulita at the local Sayulita Mercado del Pueblo on Fridays, Olas Altas Market, Puerto Vallarta on Saturdays, and La Cruz on Sundays. My spice and herb blends are also being sold in Terrenal Organic Products in Sayulita. You can also reach me here through Sayulita Life or call me at 333 443 1761