It’s no secret that Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon is a hotbed for alternative practices and creativity. With its legendary music heritage and 1930s architecture, its mythic appeal has far from faded over the years. Nestled within the fray on top of a hill, is the hidden bohemian oasis where herbalist / healer / Ayurvedic practitioner Kari Jansen calls home. It is here that Kari hand-makes her organic apothecary line, Poppy and Someday – the same way she has always done since founding it in 2002.
Named for the Californian poppy, which is believed to evoke joy and a sense of calm within all those in its presence, Kari’s label is rooted in Ayurvedic philosophy and incorporates Western herbalism in its formulations as well. Ranging from skincare products such as a warming body oil blended with sage and mugwort to boost circulation, a patchouli and palo santo salve to soothe irritated skin and energy enhancing essential oil mists, Poppy and Someday powerfully combines physical treatments with spiritual treatments as well.
She adds, ‘I didn’t think this was possible growing up in the Midwest. I was always taught you couldn’t go to art school; that’s not a thing. So I went to school for health, fitness and nutrition, which was great because I got a sense of anatomy and physiology, and then I went to massage school and kept going on and taking my own path. I kept gathering all this information and finally it came to a point where I had to do something with all of it.’
Call it energy, but the intimacy that stands behind Kari’s products is evident in everything from its unique mix of ingredients to the hand-painted labels on each bottle. ‘It feels real,’ she puts plainly. ‘Every time you deal with products, especially when they start to get bigger, you have to deal with a lab. A lab has to put preservatives in it, even if it says natural. Your body doesn’t know how to assimilate those and absorb it through the skin, so that sits on your skin and causes a reaction. All my stuff is completely natural – just oils, herbs and plant medicine.’
When creating products, Kari approaches her blends from an Ayurvdeic standpoint. Each product and combination of essential oils considers whether it should be more vata, pitta or kapha (the three energetic forces in nature) for its final use. ‘I think about who I’m designing for – what kind of person would need this and how this would help them,’ Kari says, which she combines with the scientific knowledge of how plant ingredients can work together as well.
For those interested in experiencing Kari’s magic firsthand, clients can book body services with her, such as Ayurvedic lymphatic drainage massage, a Netra Basti eye therapy that targets eye congestion which manifests as dryness, darkness around the eyes or swelling, and a canyon clay body mask and salt scrub combination that involves soaking in Kari’s idyllic outdoor tub. There is also the meditative Ayurveic treatment Shirodhara that combines streaming warm essential oil over one’s forehead, which Kari combines with cranial sacral therapy and sound therapies to relieve tension and relieve depression from the inside out.
‘I go really deep. I warm the room and warm the body, I oil the body, which is detoxifying and grabs out any kind all the toxins, and your body can rid it that way Rather than detoxing and cleansing and juice fasting, it’s a safer way to have the oil that helps your nervous system and helps you get rid of things by getting the bloods and things moving. It’s protecting.’
What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness means being in touch with everything you do, you eat and in the environment. Just having an awareness of what you’re putting into your body and how that’s reacting and how you’re doing your self-care. Because no one’s going to take care of your body like you.
What are some of your cherished rituals?
I love doing a salt scrub and guasha. I love using my outdoor tub. Sitting outside in the tub with the little finches that hang out by the tub with me, it’s a great time to step back in with the rhythm of nature. That’s more of a weekly one. I sit there in the warmth, I oil up, put a mask on. I have the infrared sauna outside so I hop in there and I can enjoy everything that I’ve created.
How do you start your day?
I have tea in the morning. I used to have coffee all the time to get me going, but that wasn’t working for me. I have a tea set-up where I can pour myself a cup, have a little space and get to a meditative place. I always have to have something warm. I drink a black tea, mostly something caffeinated. I need help.
How do end your day?
I end it on the BioMat. I use a lot of warmth to relax me and that balances me because my constitution is more cold. So I end up on the BioMat reading a book and sort of zone out.
What herbs would you recommend on a daily basis?
I wouldn’t. Do it based on what you need at the time. I may wake up and my lungs are not feeling so great, I’ll work with some lung herbs that day. Because Ayurvdeically, things change with the season. How do you heal that through food rather than supplementation? Or how do you do that through self-care, external oils, a salt scrub or massaging and moving your body? Rather than taking a vitamin pill.
If you’re feeling stressed or down, what’s your tried and true pick-me-up?
Cannabis oil. Doing that and sitting in the sun is just the best. I infuse mine with olive oil.
What one thing can’t you live without?
How do you regulate your digital consumption?
I would love to never do it and just be in the earthy part of things, I know sales are related to social media and there are emails to answer. It’s a hard one because I still like to know what’s going on. I try and cut it off at 5pm and I try not to get locked into it. I pick up what I need and then try to move along.
What are some of the biggest issues on your mind today?
The environment and what’s going to happen in the world to come. I think about how much that has changed from when I was his age to now. How we’re moving away from the environment and why there are so many simple things that we’re not doing. Why there’s still so much plastic in the world. That’s really hard for me.
What aspect of wellness do you think people should talk more about?
I think people should talk more about self-care and self-love. By giving yourself massages to get everything flowing and the lymph moving. So many women need to look at their bodies in different ways and send love into each of those areas in your body. Literally self love.
Words: Pei-Ru Keh
Photography: Daniel Jack Lyons