Saturday, September 24, 2011

Operation Grassroots Alaska: Salmonberry Origins, Dreams and Thoughts

Today's edition of "Operation:  Grassroots Alaska", is by far one of my favorite businesses that I've had the pleasure of running into so far:  Salmonberry Origins, Dreams and Thoughts (3 different shops...we'll get into that in a minute :).  Why was it such a pleasure?  Because it is a business that combines some of my favorite things:  soap and beauty supplies, herbs and teas, food (oh yeah!), and beautiful items focusing on Alaska's wonders!

When I got an e-mail a week or so ago from the owner, Rainey Hopson, asking if I'd review some of her products from her Etsy shop I thought it would be cool to get to try out a new type of soap, because I just assumed that's probably what I'd get for a sample.

Boy was I wrong *laugh*.  She sent me a kit with everything in it that you see above.  When I opened the book, and I kid you not the BOOK describing all of the different scents of perfume I knew I was in for an experience.

In the past couple of days I've tried out the soaps, smelled all of the perfumes (since I can't really wear them with the kiddos) and have drank...well let's just say there's a lot of tea bags waiting to be reused in my tea bag holder.  The lip balm is quite a neat deal too and works great.

Anyone who shops on Etsy for any type of soaps and/or beauty supplies quickly comes to know quality vs. a business that is just "phoning it in" when it comes to their products.  When I just checked out the Etsy shop before I even got the samples in the mail I knew I was dealing with an Etsy shop that was BASED on quality.  Once I received the samples I KNEW I was dealing with a shop of really high quality items.  When you see customized scents EVERYWHERE instead of the same 8 different "box" scents that seem to pop up over and over again on Etsy shops and you see the care that someone puts into their photos and descriptions you know that if nothing else the owner of the business has something different going on.

My favorite scents out of the perfumes were the pilot bread scent (you have to smell it for's a very comforting smell to me) and the cloudberry scent is just awesome (never had even heard of cloudberries until I read about them from her descriptions of her perfumes).

By far though, out of all the products I got to try, the goodness the teas were just so awesome to try!  I'm not even really what you would call a "tea drinker" and I enjoyed them a LOT trying them out the last couple of days.  They are flavorful without being overly pungent and are just really wonderful to experience.

Here is what Rainey has to say about herself and her business and how it all got started for her.
"My Name is Rainey Nasugraq Hopson and am the lucky owner of a few very special Etsy stores. I grew up in Point Hope Alaska, a tiny village on the northern coast and since then I have followed my nomadic roots to a couple of villages, including some in California where I got my degree.

One of my first memories as a child was of my mother pointing out plants and naming them for me, telling me of their many special attributes as we gathered 'tundra salad' for dinner. This simple love of nature has carried on into my adulthood and was the seed for my arctic inspired products.

It actually started with a couple of small happenings in my life. First I moved to Anaktuvuk Pass Alaska, where my husband is from, and as anyone who has experienced the Brooks Range knows it is a place of magic and abundance. Second we both quit smoking cigarettes and were rewarded with the return of a couple of sensory mechanisms ie our sense of smell and taste! That was the beginnings of my line of tundra inspired scents, as I was amazed by what our world smelled like! The other event occurred was while ice fishing, I pulled a muscle in my back and was met with a very limited amount of things I could do for the pain. Talking with the local elders here they recommended I try using Willow bark. I was amazed with how well it worked and thus began my adventures into the adaptations of traditional knowledge and of modern delivery systems.

These stores allow me and others to be proud of our heritage and to fit it into our increasingly modern world. It also allows me and my husband to practice a subsistence life and to preserve older knowledge. I am lucky to have found a way in which I can celebrate my culture, promote natural science, by doing something I absolutely adore. I hope people can see this in my products!"

I would say that her products speak for themselves. Rainey runs 3 shops on Etsy and I encourage you to check all three of them out...

Salmonberry Origins Health and Beauty products, first aid products (tinctures, healing teas, foot soaks, etc) and food (jams and mustards...can't WAIT to order me some of those :).

Salmonberry Dreams. Arctic Body Adornments (jewelery). Beautiful stuff!

Salmonberry Thoughts Artwork (once again lovely stuff!).

You can also find her on her blog and on Facebook.

Makes me wish I had as much talent in my whole body that this talented lady has in her little finger *laugh*.

Like what you see? Well, Rainey was nice enough to offer a discount to my readers this fine day. Use coupon code AKBARGAINHUNTER at checkout to get 10% off your order.

How's that for cool?

So, next time you want to try a new type of soap, tea or just try something cool, please check out her shops on Etsy and help support an Alaskan business!

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