Restorative Steeping

by Katie Faulkner
Photos Courtesy of Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary, by Soli Photography

 

Before Hillary Libby opened Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary, she was on the corporate fast-track. She had achieved a career complete with all the trappings – a comfortable salary, a company car, great benefits, and plenty of stress. To offset the high-pressure lifestyle of her career, she dove deeper into her passion for yoga and made time for herself through the act of brewing a cup of tea. “It became this soothing, simple ritual. It only took a few minutes, but those were the few minutes a day that I could slow down and check in with myself. I really grew to love it,” Hillary shares. “Then it became a way for me to show love and care for others. When I had people over, I just always wanted to brew them a cup of tea.”

Hungry for more knowledge on wellness-centric topics, she researched, read, and continued to edify herself about these holistic rituals. She built a pantry shelf full of herbs and tea blends and learned a variety of yoga practices. “You begin noticing how everything is interconnected: your emotions, your physical health, your nutrition, and your spirituality,” Hillary shares. She began studying Ayurvedic herbalism and meditation. She earned a certification through the Herbal Academy online. Hillary explains, “It evolved, and I became more invested. That’s where my heart really was, and I knew it was my purpose and a way to serve the community. Eventually, I decided to follow my heart.”

She began developing her vision for a wellness-focused, beautiful, warm and welcoming place to enjoy a cup of tea or shop through a wide variety of holistic products. More than 10 years into her corporate career, Hillary decided to take a leap of faith that the Chattanooga community would welcome a holistic hangout, and Wildflower was born.

Just as Hillary had grown to be thoughtful about what she put in her body and how she spent her time and energy, she is also thoughtful about making community connections and the businesses whose products she stocks in the shop. “I try to be mindful of where things come from. I look for local growers and makers and strive to always source organic products. Most of the items we stock are local or regional, with few exceptions, and the people we work with are awesome and make quality products.”

In addition, Wildflower has become a connecting place for all kinds of local businesses to partner with each other and with Wildflower. They host yoga instructors, herbal workshops, healing workshops, local artists and musicians, local restaurants, boutiques, and many other businesses. “This business is based on healing and helping people connect,” Hillary says.

That mentality of connectivity also inspires the day-to-day activities in the shop. “I love being in the shop and working with customers. I’m always amazed when I see what I call, ‘shop magic.’ People will do the neatest things, like a mother and daughter doing watercolors together or one customer who left an anonymous diary by our yellow couch which people now pour their hearts into, to share with each other.”

Plus, Hillary has stayed true to what sparked the idea for Wildflower. She still loves to brew a cup for anyone who comes in, offering them her brand of care. “Often people come in and might not understand how our menu works, or they might not be familiar with some of the options. So my favorite way to help guide them is just to ask, ‘How are you feeling today?’” From a place of restorative care, Hillary or any of her wellness-educated staff can brew a cup to assist almost any ailment or mood – good, bad, or in between.

“I like to be a hub of all things healing and connecting – I like to hold space for anything holistic and healing.”

– Hillary Libby,
Owner of Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary

Looking back, Hillary says the community’s reception of Wildflower was amazing. “Sometimes people will come in and thank me for being here, and that’s what means the most,” she shares. In the past two years, she has loved crafting special events for Mainx24, and she always looks forward to Southerly Flower Farms’ annual flower mandala display. Moving forward, she hopes to expand into online sales and continue to grow the company. Hillary says, “For me, it was scary to leave the comfort of the corporate world, but I just trusted my path and ended up doing what I love!” CS

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