“Be Gentle With Yourself”—In Conversation With Apothecary Expert and Entrepreneurial Spirit, Cassie Courtney
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Cassie Courtney, my favorite apothecary expert, knocks on my door (in her usual rhythmic pattern) one late afternoon just before the Spring Equinox. She’s wearing a long linen dress with a cozy cardigan.
The familiar scent of amber, incense, and energetic warmth fills the room as she hugs me completely before carrying on, immediately diving into her days’ events.
Her long, beachy locks shimmer as she smiles brightly despite exhaustion. We find ourselves sitting on the couch, talking about everything and nothing at all. Courtney was one of my first friends in Austin. We met at a favorite local spot, Thai Fresh, with her son, Odie, on her lap. Neither of our businesses had been dreamt up. In many ways, our aimless zest and naivety brought us close. I have always felt unbounded joy around Courtney. She has an effortless ability to embrace my intensity while acknowledging my depth. Our conversations are easy and compatible and this interview is no different. We laugh for a good third of it (some of which I’ll include in the podcast episode) while lingering on all of the different parts of her essence that make Courtney… Courtney.
West Texas is woven throughout Courtney’s being, in her personal life, and within her brand. Raised in a small town called Boerne, she says with a smile,
“The hill country is an extension of my roots and my roots extend into West Texas. I’m an eighth-generation Texan. My family has ties in that whole region. I feel at home there. I connect with the land when I’m out west.”
Ever since she was a little girl, Courtney would visit her grandmother in El Paso. She was always struck by the plants. The perfect model for someone who truly appreciates Earth, she’ll admit that it’s the most beautiful planet in the entire world and deserves tender care.
You will find, through stories and sentiments, that Courtney is a beautiful blend of mystique, intentional effort, and enthusiasm. Like the iridescent, bronze mica in her Golden Oil, her spirit glimmers.
Continue reading to benefit from her thoughts around apothecary, healing, self-love, and rituals. To hear our conversation, visit the Woke Beauty podcast.
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On her early-ish years…
Courtney graduated a year early and moved to Austin in her teenage years to spread her wings. She enrolled in community college and worked at a local hotspot called Juiceland. She wasn’t always sure if she could pay her bills but she made it work. Courtney laughs,
“I was a young, vivacious, bleach blonde hippy that drank a ton of juice, swam at the springs, switched majors a bunch, and loved raves. I completely shifted when I had my son, Odie. Time became precious and valuable, and I had to find a way to provide for him.”
When she entered her early 20s, Courtney started to forage. It introduced her to the plants in a more meaningful way. Names were added to these beautiful living things she grew up seeing and she developed connections to them that went beyond appreciation.
“There are a couple of plants out there I’m especially connected to. One of them is ocotillo. It’s super spiky with long, skinny branches. It’s great for setting boundaries. It protects your energy and heart. It’s a healing plant. The other one–my very favorite– is chaparral. It’s also known as desert rain. You can take a branch and put it in your shower and it will immediately take you to West Texas. I use it in a couple of my products just because it’s got so many incredible benefits and feels like home.”
On how she got started…
Courtney interned under close friends whose teachings were rooted in plant medicine. Her sister, an herbalist, brought the world of apothecary into her life. With passion, she admits, “I was thirsty to know more. I wanted to be a witch in the kitchen.”
When Courtney was pregnant with her son, she started to work with plants in a different way. She felt protective of her body as if she had a higher purpose to take better care of herself because she had to nurture a beautiful being other than herself. She began by making her own formulations that she would share with friends and family. “I wanted people to try them for fun. There was no intention of actually selling them. It was just making, creating, and giving,” she reveals.
One day, her friends at Esby Apparel, caught wind that she was making products. They asked her to partake in a market with her business. Courtney expands on the story, “I thought, I don’t have a business. I whipped up the name quickly off of my incense which was called High Sun Low Moon. After the market, they approached me wanting to carry my brand in their store. And I thought I don’t have a brand. I told them to give me six weeks. I produced a curated grouping of products and over time, I fine-tuned them. Most of them aren’t with us anymore but some of them have stuck. I make everything out of my home.”
I ask her what that’s like and she says,
“My home is a quarter an apothecary, a quarter a workspace, a quarter my home, and the rest a four-year-old’s jungle.”
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On intentionality in her products…
Courtney puts intention and love into every product. She refuses to make anything when she’s not in the best state of mind. Thus, we aren’t just receiving oil, smokes, or incense. We are benefitting from a higher frequency that we can’t even see.
Courtney adds, “When I infuse the oils, they always have rose quartz and a citrine while they’re in the sunlight. The intention behind it is what matters. If I have something hard going on in my life or a really busy day where I can’t be present, I’m not going to make products because I don’t want that energy seeping into my containers.”
All of Courtney’s products have their own story. Mary Moon Celestial Soak, an herbal tea bath, came out last year. It is lunar-inspired and calls for bathing during the full moon to actualize new intentions. Courtney says,
“The new moon is all about releasing, letting go, and cleansing your body and your heart. You wax and wane. The waning is a shedding process while the waxing is manifestation.”
Courtney conjured up the sacred soak during her pregnancy. She loved being in warm water and wanted to create a safe space in her womb. She describes, “Soaking in the plants allows your body to absorb nutrients while relaxing.” The beetroot in the tea bath is a deep, dark red color, resembling Mother Earth and her elements.
The Golden Oil is an “everything oil” suitable for your face, body, hair, and gentle enough to pleasure yourself. It has gold and bronze mica, which is a finely powdered, iridescent, shimmery rock. Courtney dives deeper,
“I wanted that product to inspire more people to massage themselves, touch themselves, get comfortable with their bodies and take care of them through nourishment. The golden sparkles help to visualize the love one can have for their body.”
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On manifesting High Sun Low Moon into existence…
Manifestation is powerful. But it can be hard to know whether focusing your thoughts intentionally, hard work, divinity, or something else leads to success. I’m not sure any of us truly know. But it’s always interesting to consider.
Courtney elaborates on her past, “I remember starting HSLM as a side project. I loved it but I needed to support myself and Odie. Two years ago I set the intention that this would be my full-time thing and that no matter what, I would support myself with it and make it grow. I set that intention right around the beginning of the new year. That year I had my best year yet. The next year I doubled my revenue. And then the year after that, I quadrupled it. Part of it is grit and sticking with it. It’s not just visualization. It’s putting in the time and effort. The other part is saying the intention over and over in my head until it happens.”
“Whatever you want to do in life, as long as you say it out loud and say it in your heart, it’s going to happen.”
Courtney explains that her self-care must come first. Considering her youth, career, and role as a mama, her advice is significant. She says, “As I get more orders and more people reaching out to do cool things, I’m reminded that I’m only one person and my self-care is my priority. If I abandon that, everything else feels harder. It’s about committing back to myself and putting the things that are important to me first.”
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On truly meditating…
Meditation isn’t always easy for me. I find myself averse to sitting still. In fact, I used to fall asleep. There was something so mindless about the act of meditating, while the whole point is to develop mindfulness. Courtney has formed a meditation practice that propels her further.
She started by sitting on her mat, closing her eyes, and moving her breath into different parts of her body. When her mind started to chatter, she wouldn’t pay it any attention. Courtney would just go back to her breath.
“It’s not like you drop in and then you’re just enlightened. Rather, it’s a series of continuing to just show up on the mat or under a tree or on a run–wherever works for you. It’s so important to give your mind quiet time.”
Courtney tells me about a summer solstice class she taught a couple of years ago. She was trying to find ways to cool the body during the hottest times of the year to share with the class. So, she started to sit outside for 20 minutes mid-day. She says,
“I would hear the buzz of the summer, which consisted of the cicadas super loud and raw, and I would breathe. I used the sound they made to channel my breath and to cool my body. It felt grounding. It’s another example of connecting with nature. I’m a double Aquarius (sun and rising) with a Cancer Moon. I work with herbs to ground myself–to get my hands in the dirt and feel little offerings of Earth–so I can connect and stay put. Otherwise, I would shoot up to the stars and you’d never see me again.”
I admit, “That would be tragic.”
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On advice/her favorite lesson…
It’s important to consider the life teachings that brought a person to their present reality. Courtney talks about a song written by her friend Marlena called Be Gentle With Yourself. It’s her mantra.
“We hold ourselves to such high standards. We are so hard on ourselves. But you have to permit yourself to take it slower. It’s all tied up in that simple phrase: be gentle with yourself. We’re here to exist, to be in this existence and, to soak up all that life offers.”
We talk about our inner dialogue and how intense it can be. Courtney says, “Changing that internal dialogue into more loving thoughts is incredible. When you can see how you treat yourself and then shift it, you become more aware. You offer yourself more tenderness.”
Cassie’s Favorite Books:Be Love Now by Ram Dass: “It’s great Bhakti medicine around heart devotion. That book was really powerful. It helped me get out of my head and into my heart and my soul and, you know, just love. It’s a book I often go back to and refer to if I need to go deeper and connect with myself.” Botnia Erotica, Arousing Body, Mind and Spirit by Diana De Luca: “I use this book specifically for High Sun Low Moon. It’s about working with herbs and the sensuous experience of being alive. The book speaks to different ceremonies and rituals you can do with things like love picnics, body massages, and different plant aphrodisiacs. It’s been a source of inspiration for my brand that promotes connecting with plants through a sensuous experience. It speaks to simple meditation: getting out of your mind and into your body.
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On advice to her younger self…
I ask Courtney the advice she’d give to her younger self. She hesitates for a moment before answering, “I would instill more trust and love in her. The late teenage years are such a fragile time for a girl. There are many unknowns. You are coming into your body and developing your identity. I would give her more love and praise. I would say, Everything you’re doing is exactly as it should be. Sometimes we wish things were different.
But everything that happens in your life paints the story of who you are.”