A New Start: Claire Kelly, Indigo Herbs

When her child became ill, Claire started working from home, selling plant-based products online. Here, she discusses her thriving business – Indigo Herbs – the benefits of a plant-based diet, herbal remedies and reducing your carbon footprint…

“I’ve lived in Glastonbury for 14 years. We arrived here when I was pregnant with my third child, and it seemed a nice place to settle down and bring up our family. I’m a stepmum to one and mum to three. My youngest is 13 and my oldest is 21.

My home is a roomy Victorian terrace house, which has functioned a bit like a tardis over the years. We seem to have found extra usable space in every inch of the property including renovating our garage and starting Indigo Herbs from there.

I’m fairly minimalistic when it comes to colour, as my original gypsy-like colourful style really didn’t work for one of my children, who needed things to be very calm and under stimulating. I think when they’ve all left home I’ll return to a gypsy caravan look but for now I have to content myself with ornaments, such as my Moroccan mirrors and bowls, and my mosaic fire place surround. I like our distressed wooden doors and floors and I like to keep things very simple.

There is a rise in major diseases with cancer affecting one in three

Back in 2004 we decided to start an ecommerce business and work from home because of family circumstances. One of our children had an acute childhood illness so we gathered our resources and retreated to home.

Formally, we ran a New Age shop and complementary healing centre in Glastonbury town, so we decided to take that model online and began on Ebay with our old shop stock and a small range of herbs and superfoods.

We found a keen demand so decided to create an ecommerce website and indigo-herbs.co.uk was born. My partner Steve Mckewon led sales, whilst I wrote about the benefits of the herbs and superfoods.

Now we have a nice office over two floors that is inhabited by the media, marketing and tech team. Our main HQ is where manufacture, dispatch, customer service and all ops-related activities are based about 10 minutes’ walk away.

Choosing a plant-based lifestyle is probably the greatest act of positive change you could take right now

We’ve got a few issues going on at the moment – things like the destruction of our natural environment, global warming, the pollution of the seas, and consequently a rise in environmental toxins and pollution.

Alongside this there is a rise in major diseases with cancer affecting one in three. Our own NHS is completely overwhelmed and obesity has hit epidemic proportions. I’m not alone in thinking that we might have lost our way.

Choosing a plant-based lifestyle is probably the greatest act of positive change you could take right now – it could benefit your health, the environment, the society in which you live and your consciousness. The eco system we are part of contains all the solutions we need for health and wellbeing.

Getting back into connection with Mother Nature may seem like an ideal proposed by an idealist, hippy or free thinker, but actually we really do need to do something about this disconnect that seems to be driving us forward into destruction.

The link between poor diet and disease is still being questioned by scientists but actually there is a groundswell of people applying common sense to this and coming up with the answer for themselves. Natural pure clean wholefoods support not only a healthy body but also a healthy mind and ultimately a healthy environment.

Claire - Indigo Herbs - theearlyhour.com

Plant medicines encourage the body and mind to return to a state of natural wellbeing; they clean out, retune, trigger and repair the body’s natural healing mechanism to be well and live a long life.

Conventional medicine has its place, and it remains a choice for each individual to decide for themselves what their treatment plan might be. The case study for eating a super nutrient rich diet, for example, whilst receiving chemotherapy has been tested many times.

However, it makes me feel frustrated to hear of people with gastrointestinal symptoms that could indicate IBS, or leaky gut syndrome, or food intolerances being given painkillers. I do believe that what we put in our bodies as food is the fundamental baseline to our health, and I’d go so far as to say I’m pretty convinced everyone could improve their health and quality of life by cleaning up their diet and lifestyle.

Our products should be used as part of a holistic lifestyle. There’s no point having a shot of wheatgrass in the morning and not looking at a fruit or vegetable for the rest of the day. No point drinking a cup of sleep deep tea but sitting up till the early hours on a computer game.

I think that taking responsibility for your own health and acting on it naturally leads to an awareness of your responsibility for your footprint on the planet. I also think that there’s a shift in consciousness when you live in a plant-based way making you more sensitive to your environment, which is a good thing, but might affect the choices that you make.

It means a lot to us to be making a difference in this way

Business is thriving for us. The market is very robust and we have great plans for 2016. It’s a simple formula: expose Indigo Herbs product range to more people who are really looking for this stuff. As it turns out more people really are, and it’s a great honour to be of service in providing these excellent quality natural ingredients for affordable prices.

We will be continuing to make available what nature has designed for us and getting it into the hands of the people who are ready to reap those benefits. It’s a positive spiral. It means a lot to us to be making a difference in this way.

January I always a busy month as it’s still traditionally THE time to get back on the feel-good, get-healthy campaign. But really we want to inspire people to stick with the lifestyle throughout the year because plant-based living is not about denial, depravation or diets, it’s about wholeheartedly living well and eating well in a natural way.

I will bring superfood smoothies to the world of teenage gamers and make them super trendy and knock all the energy drinks out of the field

My work came out of my lifestyle so Indigo Herbs has just become a playground for exploring new ingredients and health solutions. I tend to do a personal health review every six weeks normally in tune with the wheel of the year (eight Celtic festivals of Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Equinox, Lammas, Autumn Equinox, Sawain, Winter Solstice, Imbolc).

It’s not that I’m a dedicated pagan; it’s just that these festivals are celebrated in our community in Glastonbury, and they help me make the adjustment to the cycle of the year and its changing points. So I will normally choose four-five tinctures that suit my picture and blend them up to take over the next weeks.

I brought my kids up to be free-thinking individuals who get to decide what they want, so co-habiting with them as teenagers is a lot about dropping back and giving them space to challenge family beliefs or practices. So I don’t enforce any kind of diet on them and like most teenagers they like beige foods that are not particularly healthy!

I go through phases, though, of resolving to find the perfect superfood smoothie recipe that rivals a junk chocolate milkshake! I think I’ve got pretty close but they would never let me know of my success because it’s their job right now to challenge me. So this is how we have fun in our house!

My greatest counter challenge is that I will bring superfood smoothies to the world of teenage gamers and make them super trendy and knock all the energy drinks out of the field, and they should watch this space. But truly that’s not the actual business plan for 2016 but it’s a longer term dream and if Indigo Herbs doesn’t nail that demographic then I hope someone does.

The older ones seem to be into healthy food and love smoothies and juicing and relate pretty well to the benefits of superfoods so there is hope for the misguided teens. My partner and I, however, are very choosy about what goes in the shopping basket, because we must never forget that our consumer power is pretty great and we love to buy brands that make a stand for a better world.”

What do you think: is a plant-based diet the way forward? Do we need to lessen our carbon footprint? Let us know in the comment section below…