East Bay denizens who have joined the herbal revolution are no doubt familiar with Twisted Thistle Apothecary, which is run by Naomi Nash and Ethan Franc. The store, which carries a range of alternative herbal healing products, has undergone a recent change. After nine years of running a store in Berkeley (their first ever storefront), at the corner of Channing and Telegraphy, they found themselves at the mercy of Bay Area real estate. So, Nash and Franc have moved into Oakland, into a cozy spot on Piedmont Avenue, where new business is blooming.
Although the move was bittersweet—the building where the original storefront was housed was torn down, with a plan to build new housing for Cal students—Nash said they are "enjoying the new location so far ... the best thing has been how welcoming and community-oriented the neighborhood seems."
"We have had countless people who live down the street or around the corner come in and say, 'We have been in this neighborhood for over 30 years and are so excited to have an herb shop!' We have received a lot of genuine, loving welcoming and support," Nash said. "We wanted to keep our location in the East Bay, because we have a fairly large regular client basis that would be at a loss if we moved both our stores in the city."
Denizens of San Francisco may know that Twisted Thistle also maintains a storefront at 1391 Haight St.
For those unfamiliar with Twisted Thistle, the shop is dedicated to providing natural herbal blends for a range of issues. "Our business is a space for people to come and discover empowerment to help support their overall health. We offer herbs that can support: nervous system, sleep, energy, sex life ... addiction recovery, anxiety, and much more," Nash said.
Specializing in producing various herbal blends, Nash added, "Our herb blends have thus far been developed based on what we feel our community most often comes in searching for support with ... We help first-time shoppers by first helping them to feel very comfortable to explore the store and ask questions, then once we have a little room to open up, our staff is very talented at figuring out what someone's needs at the time are and guiding them to products that might support them."
In the Piedmont Avenue store, you'll also find body care products and jewelry.
Nash said Twisted Thistle is "doing a lot of work to deepen our community connection and want more intimate relationships with our customers."
Twisted Thistle offers frequent events, including book release parties, as well as recurrent events. One, "Plants and Planets," entails going through the astrological chart with the sun and examining herbs that are good for the qualities of each sign, Nash said. If that doesn't suit, perhaps the "Sacred Plant Series" will. This series provides in-depth insight into plants commonly used for "journeying," such as salvia, peyote, and more.
You can keep up with Twisted Thistle through social media (@twisted_thistle on Instagram), at www.TwistedThistleApothecary.com, and visit the East Bay store at 4156 Piedmont Ave., Oakland.
Continuing a tour of Piedmont Avenue, we stopped into Goat-Milk. Fashionable parents may already be aware of this shop, which offers functional and organic styles for kids.
Owners Roland Bello and Tania Vargas originally met as colleagues in advertising over 20 years ago. While Bello was working in Barcelona, Vargas asked him to bring back a specific pair of underwear for her young son. Vargas had nostalgia for the quality and construction of these, such that they became a necessity, and the trend caught on with her friends. Bello had essentially turned into a supplier, as the requests compounded each time he traveled overseas. This opened the door for Bello and Vargas to collaborate.
Their collaboration resulted in a storefront in New York City, which they operated for four years. Then two years ago, they opened a brick-and-mortar space in Oakland. "I fell in love with Oakland, and it seemed like a good idea to open one here. I love the vibe here and it feels like a good fit for us," Bello said.
Collaborating together on design and production—the later mainly takes place in India—Bello and Vargas have created a collection of necessary basics for kids and babies, ranging from T-shirts, thermals, leggings, and undergarments, as well as onesies, girl's dresses, and even basics for adults.
"Our boy's boxer brief became very popular so we were inspired to create one for dads. We just came out with an incredibly soft, black-and-white stripe unisex adult tee," Bello said, "and we plan to slowly keep adding to the adult line."
There are changes afoot for Goat-Milk in the future. "We want to make shopping at our store more experiential—a place where you can meet up with a friend, enjoy a cup of coffee, and buy some clothes or pottery on your way out," Bello said. "We plan to expand into a coffee (and possibly wine) bar inside of our retail space soon."
In the meantime, Bello said, "We love being in Oakland. We feel we've been well-received so far and ... we want to stay." You can visit Oakland and get some wearables for the kid in your life at Goat-Milk, 4139 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, www.GoatMilkNYC.com.
The giving season for charity has no expiration date. And for Bay Area musician Lia Rose, Doctors Without Borders has her heart. An activist who frequently supports progressive causes, Rose said, via a press release, "This is a group of professionals volunteering their skills to offer life-saving humanitarian care throughout the world. I can't think of more important work than that."
In order to do something special for Doctors Without Borders, Rose teamed up with her mother, Fern Solomon, owner of Fern's Garden on Solano Avenue in Berkeley. For those unfamiliar with this charming shop, it's worth a visit. There are many handmade treasures (primarily made in the United States) to be found, from wind chimes to jewelry and bath and body care items.
It's easy to support Rose and Solomon in this cause, particularly if you need to give someone a gift. Rose will work with those interested in the program directly; gift baskets will be filled with goods from Fern's Garden, and will also include a note to let the recipient know that their gift also supports Doctors Without Borders. Proceeds from each purchase—20 percent—will go directly to the organization. Each basket will be filled with such goods as scented candles, soapstones, and keychains. The cost of each basket ranges from $25 to $100.
Consider supporting this important cause, as well as a local retailer. If you're interested in giving a basket and supporting Doctors Without Borders, contact Fern's Garden at 510-529-4848, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop into the shop at 1831 Solano Ave., Berkeley. www.FernsGarden.com.
Musician Lia Rose, left, teams up with mom, Fern Solomon, of Fern's Garden to help Doctors Without Borders. Photos courtesy Fern's Garden.