Okanogan HerbsOTDC ACE-IT Graduate
Auralie Westie graduated from the OTDC ACE-IT program in December 2020 and is working hard to bring Okanogan Herbs, her apothecary business, to life. Auralie is from Armstrong, British Columbia and has been self-employed for over 20 years as a hardwood floor installer and finishing carpenter; she is also a certified Thai masseuse. This entrepreneur decided to take the I-ACE program for the purpose of “bring[ing] her passion forward” to pursue her ultimate goal of owning and creating a community apothecary.
Since 2002, Auralie has held a chartered herbalist certification which allows her to diagnose and prescribe herbs medicine. She is passionate about introducing and guiding others through holistic treatments where she utilizes the natural healing properties of herbs. Herbs are multifunctional; they can help to prevent and treat diseases and can be used to regulate digestive, respiratory, and hormonal imbalances as well as many other conditions.
For as long as she can remember, Auralie has introduced herbal solutions to her friends and family that were suffering from issues like arthritis and allergies. They often complained that prescriptions were not working, they had unwanted side-effects, or they wanted to avoid the pharmaceutical industry. While Auralie was happy to help her friends and family, she also wanted to branch out to share this knowledge with her community. Her future apothecary will be a place for connection, community and conversation where she will not only teach and provide herbs, tea and medicine, but create a “place where neighbours can gather and learn” as a way to integrate “herbal knowledge into their daily lives.”
It is evident that COIVID-19 disrupted many lives; Auralie found that many individuals sought means to become increasingly self-reliant. For one, people were learning how to grow their own food through gardening. During the I-ACE program modules, Auralie learned about the importance of surveys to conduct market research and assess demand for specific products or services. She created a questionnaire to gauge her community’s interest in learning about medicine and growing their own herbs. Surprisingly, the response was overwhelming, so she organized a nature walk in downtown Armstrong. Auralie educated others about the many useful herbs that grow outside along the pathways during the trek. From the questionnaire, Community Bloom (a non-profit assisting in fostering environmental responsibility) saw the post and asked Auralie to be a guest speaker.
As an experienced Thai masseuse, Auralie has harnessed the potential of her existing channel to introduce customers to her apothecary business. She currently learns about the body and pain points through her massages; she wishes to further her offerings by providing additional pain support with accompanying treatments using herbal teas and medicines.
Throughout the I-ACE program, Auralie learned how to create a website and Facebook page and was introduced to various marketing techniques, all of which have helped her expand and introduce her practice to potential clients. She admits that the I-ACE program has encouraged her to “dig deeper” and establish a solid foundation for her business, which includes a lot of market research and a robust financial plan. Since launching her social media, she has seen a large increase in bookings as many clients are looking for new ways to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy.
She still has a lot to do to reach her apothecary dream. Her
next step involves finding an acreage to grow her herb field, installing a
thermal greenhouse, and renovating a barn. She hopes to hold many workshops for
medicine-making and herbal remedy education. To learn more about Auralie’s inspiring work and her journey, visit her
Okanagan Herbs Facebook page or her Thai Massage Facebook page. We at the I-ACE
program are excited to see what the future has in store for Auralie and Okanagan Herbs!