NEW MILFORD – Twin Star Herbal Education, a local school opened in 2001, has opened a storefront in the heart of New Milford’s Historic District.
Twin Star Community Apothecary, at 57 Bank Street inside an early 1900s brick building, is an alternative healing apothecary and gift shop. The small business showcases handmade products from local herbalists, practitioners and craftspeople.
Herbalism, also known as herbal medicine or phytotherapy, is the study of plants intended for medicinal purposes or for supplanting a diet, recognized as alternative medicine by traditional medical practitioners.
“It’s always exciting to see a small business thrive and grow,” said Kevin Bielmeier, economic development director. “Twin Star now has street level visibility in the heart of downtown and will continue to be a vibrant part of the community.”
Lauren “Lupo” Passero and Tina Hartzell, business partners and residents of New Milford, bring over 25 combined years of herbal expertise and good karma to their new venture.
“We specialize in local, small batch, handcrafted, community supported herbs, teas, aromatherapy and flower essences,” said Passero, a clinical herbalist and flower essence practitioner who studied at the North Carolina School of Natural Healing.
Their herbal products include local and organic bulk medicinal herbs, handmade tinctures, custom crafted teas and topical preparations.
“People are genuinely interested in learning how to take care of themselves through natural means,” Passero said. “We’re creating a space where people can come in and ask about their health care needs and get custom herbal blends and trusted natural products.”
Among their early customers is Denise Fitch, of Washington Conn. “There is nothing like being able to be your own advocate and be empowered and able to make healthy choices and have alternatives so close by with unending support,” she said. “This is something we all need on some level.”
Hartzell, who manages the apothecary, enjoys using both her herbal experience of five years and prior product management experience of 20 years to “promote herbal healing to help empower people to take better care of themselves and their families.”
Twin Star’s most popular product line is their own brand. They’re well-known for their organic and locally sourced tea blends, and they also make their own custom teas.
They carry hundreds of flower essences, specialty books, plant oracle cards, crystals and jewelry, too.
Many of the products offered are made by students from the herbal school. One top-selling line is Sweetfern Botanicals. These sweet medicinal tinctures are made by Haley Neddermann of Torrington. “She makes everything tasty,” said Passero.
With tick season just around the corner, Twin Star’s shelves are stocked with Tick Away, an organic specialty product made by Ilana Sobo of Sherman.
The store likes to source locally as much as possible. If they can’t, then Twin Star carries only ethically sourced, organically grown or wild-crafted products. One popular line of organic, essential oils they carry is Veriditas, sourced from Colorado. Some of the essential oils in demand this time of year are lavender, clary sage and sandalwood.
Twin Star also offers specialty and seasonal apothecary “CSA shares” to the community, and the average cost per kit is $55. “What we do is put together herbal remedy kits. Each kit contains six handmade, natural herbal products like tinctures, teas, oils and herbal sprays. They’re all based on the season. We offer them quarterly and for special occasions, like Mother’s Day,” said Passero.
They’re always open to new vendors who make and create their own local, organic products.
Twin Star plans to soon offer workshops and astrology readings inside the store as well.
Twin Star Community Apothecary compliments the Twin Star Herbal Education school nicely. Established in 2001, it offers workshops and community classes on herbal medicine, flower essence therapy, natural healing and holistic health. Classes range from two-hour workshops to 10-month long certificate programs to become an herbalist.
Passero has taught more than 1,000 students at her school through the years, recently averaging about 75 students per year. Students are not just from Connecticut. They come from all over like New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maine and Virginia.
The learning school’s most recent location for the past three years is conveniently located upstairs from the new shop at 65 Bank Street.
Passero is a regular guest lecturer and teacher at Western Connecticut State University. She’ll also be speaking at a four-hour seminar about herbal medicine at Yale University in April.
This article written by Alicia Sakal originally appeared online as premium content and on the Business front page in the March 27, 2017 edition of Republican-American, a regional daily newspaper in Connecticut. Photos: Alicia Sakal