Today we’d like to introduce you to Merihelen Nuñez.
Merihelen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
So, growing up, my mother was a nurse and also a heavy gardener. My father was a survivalist and was always in preparation for any event in which there became a scarcity of food, medicine, and other resources. I was infused in a lifestyle that embraced both nurturing and naturing.
I was a part of the very short-lived recycle club at Maryvale High School in the ’90s. My ecological footprint concerned me before I even knew what that meant and as a young mother, I clothed diapered my babies with my grandchildren in mind. I would say that ’93 is the year that I really pursued self-study in the practice of Herbalism.
My love and curiosity for plants just grew and grew! I attended every class I could find about herbs and I bought every book I saw on the subject. Friends would ask for guidance and I was always willing to help educate them about plant remedies. Then, I started selling herbs to my friends out of my house- kinda funny I know… I had a scale and everything! They were coming for Nettles, Red Raspberry Leaf, Dandelion Root, Kaolin clay and such. Word got around…
People wanted more and I was happy to help; I realized that this was my purpose. I started to see people in my make-shift office (aka the laundry room) and had my husband install a curtain rod in front of my washer and dryer. We put a hand-me-down, teen desk in there and somehow squeezed a small apothecary in a 6″x12″ room (which felt more like a closet). When people came to see me for guidance and information I would pull the curtains over to cover the washer and dryer and place a chair by my desk- I was a thousand percent serious! Oh, Lord! Those were the days, haha!
After a while, I went to college to attain a degree with a focus on Western Herbalism. It was at that time it became an obsession. I worked tirelessly on formulas because I couldn’t stop, it wasn’t part of my life- it was my life. It came with no money, just a deep satisfaction that what I was putting together could help others in some way. I started giving classes in the community before graduating and within this evolution, I started manufacturing our own line of herbal remedies. I was vending at First Fridays in Phoenix for a bit and had some of our products in a couple of small shops in the area, then we secured a brick and mortar in Glendale, Az. After moving around in the area a bit, we found our home on the corner of 57th Drive and Glendale.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Like any other venture starting from the ground up, my husband and I had to teach ourselves about the business end of things. We spent countless hours learning everything BESIDES plants, from graphic design, record keeping, merchandising, statistics, how to get water from this end of the shop to that end of the shop, you name it, we were dealing with it.
None of it came easy. None of it was a 3-month decision and a skyrocket to the top. While our friends were all up-sizing their homes, we were downsizing ours so that we could afford to invest in ourselves and be in the vicinity of our shop. Our vacations turned into yearly quick trips up north to Sedona and Flag, My husband worked 2-3 jobs at a time for about three years until our shop was sustainable. That provided me with the emotional fuel to keep at it like an animal and make this work. You can’t tell by the looks of it, but we’re both really beasts.
Now, it’s a challenge to keep up with an ever-growing demand. It’s a good problem to have but a huge challenge none-the-less.
Tangled Root Botanicals – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m a Herbalist, Elixir mixer and Natural Medicine Maker.
When you google Tangled Root Botanicals and our number pops up, that’s me. It’s my personal cell, I am still the one that answers whether it’s during our open hours or my days away from the shop.
My work humbles me every day- there’s no room for ego working with plants.
I love connecting to my community, making the time to chat with them and having the honor of their trust is what it’s about for me. I get to be apart of their healing journey and assist them in a way that is natural, beneficial and nourishing. These friends of mine have been supporting me for years, they are my soul-food, they’ve assisted me in growing something that will hopefully nourish everyone who walks through my doors and beyond.
I’m over-the-moon about creating remedies that people come from near and far for- remedies that are making a positive impact in peoples lives. I’m very happy to know that tea made from my two hands are making their way around the country and even the globe! I love to see skeptics turn into believers and feel good about getting to be involved in that process.
I think we’re most known for making plant-based, bad-ass botanical wares.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I would say that the best and proudest moments come from seeing old pictures of us starting out with Tangled Root Botanicals’ first brick and mortar. Looking at how primitive we were and not caring… just doing it and putting ourselves out there, sticking through it, fully committed, knowing in our hearts we had something great to offer. We believed with everything we had those things would eventually come full circle and our hard work, our strife, our time, our life, our money- it would eventually all pay off. It took a long time and was worth every bit of effort we ever put into it. I’m most proud of how far we have come.
Being featured in the Phoenix New Times, Glendale Star and the Blog Candice Near and Far- well those didn’t hurt us one bit, lol. Yes, those are up there with our proudest moments.
- Address: 5731 W. Glendale Ave.
Glendale, Az 85301Also our Cafe, Namaste Cafe is inside Tangled Root Botanicals
- Website: www.tangledrootbotanicals.com
- Phone: 4802994189
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @tangledrootbotanicals
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/tangledrootbotanicalsaz/
Sandra Diaz, Moon Photography