Called Her Vital Way, the San Rafael, CA-based brand is the brain child of entrepreneur and herbalist Amy McKelvey. McKelvey said her early introduction into herbalism, and the peculiar position it has occupied in the industry over the years, led her to start a brand of her own.
“I started working in the natural products industry a number of years ago. I worked with a botanical ingredient supplier and learned a lot about raw materials. I became interested in herbal knowledge; I was a sort of self taught herbalist. A number of years ago I made the commitment to get professional training at the California School of Herbal Studies,” McKelvey told NutraIngredients-USA.
“Surprisingly, I learned that a lot of natural products companies don’t have an herbalist on staff, or one they consult regularly,” she said.
McKelvey said her own experience as a career woman and a mother to two girls, and watching her mother do it before her, led her toward trying to help other women better support their health.
“In my own health story I discovered that a lot of herbal knowledge was missing in my own upbringing and in my culture. I always knew I wanted to work with women’s health,” she said.
“My mom was an incredibly hard worker; sometimes she worked three jobs and she still found time to grow 75% of our food in our own garden. She introduced us to wheatgrass drinks and took us on Sierra Club bike outings and trips where we stayed at hostels. Sometimes successful single women like that don’t put their own health first. That’s where herbal supplements come in,” she said.
Commitment to quality ingredients
McKelvey said she wanted the company’s products to be built around quality ingredients with proven efficacy. Too many brands with an endearing founder’s health story to tell fall down when it comes to the actual products.
“I’m especially excited about our calcium product with Aquamin, a seaweed calcium. That might be an odd thing for an herbalist to be promoting, but in addition to being an herbalist I’m also a supplement user and a women’s health advocate,” she said.
McKelvey said part of the mission statement is to make sure the products remain affordable, even after shelling out for the branded ingredients. To that end, she made the decision to eschew traditional brick and mortar distribution for the world of e-commerce.
“My goal is to maintain pricing so that women can afford the commitment the supplements require. I want to sell direct to the consumer. Going through a retail chain there is a tremendous markup. I don’t want someone to take a bilberry extract, for example, that has been spiked with black bean skins. I want them to see results,” she said.