Our wilderness fragrance distillery is the workshop where we formulate, pour & label all of our product. The wilderness is our true workshop though. Our simple approach to making all natural home goods & skin care products is what drives our very story - go out into the forest, forage wild aromatics & botanicals & put that into every bottle. Our fragrances are not romantic notions of a time & place, they are the places we harvest them from. When we go to the deserts, mountains or coastal wild lands of North America we have an idea of what we want to capture from that particular place but its only after we experience the wonders of the plant diversity there do we start to understand the story we would like to tell from those experiences. We let the aromatic nature of plants & trees speak their native tongues.
Barnaby Black started as a small menswear brand with its attention towards functional, outdoor gear. It payed ever-so-close-attention to the small details, not only within the stitching & very fabric of the garments but also the concept & the drive behind what we had set out to do. As all adventurers know, the path sometime splits & you depart on a new & exciting excursion. For us is was a departure from clothing altogether and although we have not abandoned our clothing heritage, we had found a new enthusiasm in handcrafting all natural, wild crafted skin care & grooming products. Our love for nature & our unquenchable thirst for the knowledge it holds deep inside it’s complex world, has driven us to create a collection of unique goods. When we set out on this journey, we wanted to create things unlike anything we had seen before. It was only when we started to brainstorm that we realized if you wanted to capture the true essence of a place like the pine barrens you couldn't go the store and buy pitch pine or red cedar leaf essential oils. You couldn't go on-line and find atlantic white cedar leaf or the endemic sages & mints of the California coast. If you wanted these things you have to go and get them yourself. So this is what we did.
Our maps are stained with trail grime, our boots are broken and our bramble scars a real. This is our labor of love. Everything we do comes from a whole hearted love for all things wild. We trudge through the muck & mud, trek mountain trails, sweat through desert washes, travel the landscapes of North America. Every new place we go to is an education in discovery. Identifying terrain, understanding the wild & cataloging plant species - these are some of the courses in which we study. There is nothing more exciting then the discovery of a plant we’ve never seen and seeing it thrive in it’s familiar habitat. When we get to that “place” we dig in, grab hold of the terroir & we delve into its nuances. Every possibility of an aromatic experience is explored.
LAGOON OF IMAGINATION - IDEAS & FORMULATIONS
Sometimes when we set out into a specific region, such as the desert, we have just a slight idea of what we will be bringing back to the workshop. Sometimes we find something new or something is stirring, blooming, alive with the passing rainstorms and so our ideas evolve and shift like the weather. Our fragrances are the purity of nature, as is and untouched. Every plant & trees has its own aromatic voice. Sometimes we introduce them together in a poetic, love song and sometimes we let them they stand alone in their diverse & complex language. These studies are simple though - raw, wild & pure from the source. Our formulations are not romantic notions of a place, they are the place. Whether they are stories we are purveying or stories the plants tell, our ideas swim in a wild lagoon of pure natural beauty.
THE TRAILHEAD - NOTES ON SUSTAINABILITY & RESPONSIBILITY TO NATURE
We honor every plant & tree with our products. All of our harvesting practices are completely sustainable & done with respect to every nuance in nature. We never go into the woods & cut down trees. With that said, we have worked hand in hand with forest management projects where land was cut to control and/or encourage new growth in a effort to ensure the continued success of a habitat region. Most of harvesting of trees comes from trail management at local & state parklands or after storms when we go out & clear downed trees. All of these endeavors require permits in which obtain through the parks - most of time without resistance.
In our travels, especially on Long Island, we face deforestation & land development everyday. In cases where we fight & lose to the power of corporate greed & political persuasion, we roll with the punches & make the best out of a bad situation by harvesting those clear cut trees in honor of the very place that is diminished. We do this to help spread the word & educate people on the importance of preserving our lands.
The sad truth is the fight for our wilderness places is being lost in many cases around the globe. It is at the expense of not only beauty but of a vital part of all humanity. Without clean air, water, & soil we cannot exist. Without nature we cannot understand our place here on the planet. If you've ever walked in the woods or strolled on the beach & felt some kind of upwelling, like a cool, fresh spring, that is because you & nature are universally connected. You are supposed to feel comfort in those places & nature feels comfort in you. This is just the way it is. We encourage you to get outside everyday & soak in some sun, walk in some woods or swim in the ocean. We courage you to talk about the environment with your friends. We encourage you to educate yourself on the current affairs of our endangered planet & not to be afraid to engage in friendly conversation. To be the leader. Start the journey. Be the trailhead.
JUST A NOTE ON ETHICS
As the founder of this company, I have put every ounce of my soul into this passion project. All that I have learned growing up on Long Island & all that I have learned throughout the years has gone into this thing I call my labour of love. In my journeys I have been asked about my interest & interpretation of Native American verbiage such as my Chippewa fragrance or my imagery of Native American chief drawings on past graphic tees and how it might be offensive or aggressive towards the more sensitive subject matters in our current societal environment. I have been asked about my harvesting practices, especially pertaining to the harvesting of white sage in particular, and its possible exploitation of the indigenous peoples of California (being its a sacred ritual herb used in many of those cultures daily practices). The simple answer is this - I grew up learning to respect the Native American cultures here on Long Island. It was part of my everyday life & still is. Just look at almost any road sign on LI & you will see that our towns here are named for the tribes that used to be prominent here. I understand our history very well & would never exploit this for any reason. With that said my approach has been only to pay respect to the practices these cultures had in connection with the wilderness & their very respect for the land. Yes we sell product but more so we make it our goal to educate. In regards to white sage, we have never harvested any amount that could offset the future growth or health of any plants. Truth be told, in the past 4 years we have been growing white sage in our workshop gardens & our crops have been plentiful.
Barnaby Black is in the business of aromatics not cures, medicine or ritual. We embrace all cultures and spiritual beliefs. We believe that plants are sacred by nature & that all people should embrace them as such & all people have the same rights as any to connect to nature.