Made with Intention
Jan 25, 2018 05:00AM
By Jordan Venema
Angel Gypsy’s Handcrafted Bath and Beauty Products
Story by Jordan Venema
Photos by Monica Fatica
In light of the do-it-yourself craft craze and “buy local” movement, it’s easy to mistake a corollary between proximity and ethics. That is to say, just because something is made locally doesn’t mean it’s also made with a good conscience. The size of the company, whether that’s a Fortune 500 corporation or a neighborhood designer, doesn’t mean its product is inherently better or worse for your body or environment, and in an expensive world where the consumer is forced to stretch their dollar just a little bit farther, sometimes our purchasing habits conflict with our own good conscience. So it’s comforting when we find a business with integrity, so we don’t have to turn a blind eye.
Fresno resident Briana Valdez started Angel Gypsy in January 2016, and it would be difficult to find a businesswoman who creates a product with more good intention.
“I have such a strong belief that energy is attached to everything that we do and see and have,” says Valdez, 35, who ensures the ingredients of her products are ethically sourced if not grown in her backyard.
It would be a contradiction if she didn’t, considering the nature of her business. Angel Gypsy is a specialty boutique selling handcrafted bath and beauty products that “cater to the healing of your body and soul. That,” Valdez chuckles, “usually opens up a conversation.”
She admits it can sound a little New Age-y, but the small business owner hardly has her head in the clouds. She attended school at the University of Southern California and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in Los Angeles, is a certified archeological technician, and even pursued degrees in architecture, social work, anthropology and civil engineering. She currently works full time as an executive assistant at an engineering firm.
“I’ve kind of been all over the place,” admits Valdez, which might have something to do with her business’ name. But in January Angel Gypsy will celebrate its two-year anniversary.
She began making prayer candles for family and friends, similar to the ones found in churches. Like the gesture of lighting a candle to complement a prayer, people seek ceremony and liturgy, which isn’t a far cry from our regular traditions and routines – even standing in line at our favorite coffee shop. In a sense, ceremony is just combining significance and meaning to the physical world around us.
In a sense, then, Valdez creates ceremony through Angel Gypsy. Her products, from dream catchers and bath salts to botanical lip balms and potpourri, are made with intention, in addition to the plants from her own garden.
“We have everything from roses to calendula, which is one of the main ingredients in my Flower Power salve, and lavender, echinacea, white sage, daisies – everything you can probably think of,” says Valdez.
“I also use oils and scents and plants that I pick carefully, and that are chosen for their physical and spiritual healing properties, traditionally, that people have been using for hundreds and hundreds of years,” she adds.
Valdez’s knowledge of plant properties came from her mother, who gardened her entire life – “she even knows the Latin names for plants,” she says – and also from a combination of research and intuition.
Though Valdez’s intent to is offer products that heal the body and spirit, she says people can appreciate them aesthetically, too.
“A lot of people buy it because it’s just pretty. But everything is made so that when they use it in their home, it’s adding positive energy,” says Valdez.
It’s an almost sacramental interpretation that healing can happen whether we know it or not, exactly the opposite of a placebo, and Valdez says customers often return feeling “a difference when they use the products, even if they’re not intending to use them that way.”
But no matter how people use her salves, salts or perfumes, “people do want natural, organic, and something that’s really going to lift their spirits. People just want to be happy,” says Valdez.
Her most popular product is her line of Moon Mists, scented sprays made with essential oils and plants from her garden.
“It’s made with distilled water and put out during the full moon to soak up lunar energy, which traditionally is very healing,” explains Valdez. “Then I mix in one essential oil. I have 10 different scents, all for something different.”
One thing is for sure, Valdez makes her products with intention. Anybody who goes out of their way to distill water on a full moon must care about the details.
“All the essential oils that I do purchase are cruelty-free and therapeutic grade,” adds Valdez, who even recently stopped making her tea lights, which used palm wax.
“I’m actually considering stopping altogether because with palm oil fields, there are a lot of child labor problems going on. So I can’t keep using it in good conscience. So I’ve stopped making tea lights for the last couple weeks, and I’m going to have to find another way to keep doing this. I wouldn’t want any awful acts of human nature to be a part of my product,” concludes Valdez. “And if I’m not going to use it, I’m not going to sell it.” •
Angel Gypsy • www.angelgypsy.com • Find her on Instagram and Facebook