As we near the 9th birthday of Prairie Star Botanicals (referred to as PSB), we take time to reflect on the many versions and adventures this business has been through. Founded on November 6th, 2014, PSB will be celebrating 9 years of operation – some years better than others, but all have been exciting and quite adventurous.
This story is told through the eyes of Lisa Grabenbauer – Owner, Operator, and Creative Director for PSB, written and interpreted by Aaron Hill – PSB employee since 2018.
PSB in the beginning 2014/2015
Many of you know us as Prairie Star Botanicals, but did you know we were previously Prairie Star Botanicals Inc.? Nicholas Schnell, owner and operator of Four Winds Natural Healing Center once held these manufacturing operations while beginning his practice. As clinic grew, so did the need for manufacturing. Lisa, one of Nicholas’ many first-ever students to come from the North Star Herbal Studies program, saw a future for herself in Herbalism.
Over time, Four Winds grew and grew and grew into what it is today, while manufacturing grew and grew and grew to keep up with demand. In 2014, Nicholas handed over the reigns that drive this wonderful business, when Lisa bought it from him that November. With much trust in his heart and kindness in his hands, Nicholas gave Lisa the honor of becoming owner for Prairie Star Botanicals.
PSB Today 2023
In the beginning, there was only 1…1 wholesale account that is. PSB was strictly a manufacturer for wholesale businesses in 2014/2015, where Four Winds was the primary account. In 2015, PSB started offering bottle sizes smaller than 32 and 16 oz bottles, introducing the 8, 4, 2, and 1 oz bottles. Between 2016/2017, PSB grew to incorporate more wholesale accounts such as Open Harvest and Land of Milk & Honey Herbs, to name a few. In that same time frame, PSB grew EVEN MORE to begin offering retail options to its local community.
In 2018, change started to snowball and PSB became a different entity – we launched an online presence that has forever influenced the happenings within this brick red building. PSB has had 3 versions of our website:
- The first iteration of our website was very basic – introducing us to our community to explain what we do and what we offer. This website also contained our location and forms of contacting us.
- The 2nd version was a little more complex – hiring a professional website designer to upgrade our online presence. We offered a few items for purchase online – our most popular formulas and external products. This also introduced our newsletter through Mailchimp and a Point of Sales (POS) for our retail space.
- The 3rd iteration and current website is the most spectacularly integrated version yet. We have all of our items listed online, as well as a connected POS to assist in inventory management. Our newsletter is integrated with our website and we’ve started (and maintained) a blog that posts regularly. We also offer seasonal promotions and bulk purchase discounts (discounts for higher volumes as well as package deals/kits).
- The fourth edition, yet to come but not too far away, will incorporate wholesale purchases online and other important features we have yet to unveil.
Since 2018 and the launch of our current website, we’ve focused on offering our high-quality extracts to everyone, not just practitioners and retailers. We have officially shipped to every state in the United States and we’ve shipped internationally. Looking at moving forward and the future adventures that await PSB, we will be improving processes, increasing inventory, further creating and developing a supportive herbal community, continuing to hone our unique Bioregional focus, and providing access to lifestyles that empower our customers with knowledge.
PSB's 4 Pillars - Empowerment, Access, Education, Community
Despite all of the changes we’ve encountered throughout the years, there is one component that has withstood the test of time – the 4 pillars. Everything PSB does is guided by our 4 pillars – Community, Empowerment, Access, and Education. If PSB is considering an activity/event, a new product, or even a change to our physical building, we ask ourselves “Does it fit within the pillars?”. We are guided to create and support an herbal Community, we are driven to Educate our customers about the use of herbs, we encourage Empowerment by understanding what you are putting in your body, and we will always provide Access to high quality herbal products by manufacturing in the Midwest.
I asked Lisa “What makes PSB magical?”:
“I'm a person who was trained to look to science to understand how something works. I've found that when it comes to herbs, there is not always a scientific explanation for how using an herb produces a certain effect or result. I've started to call it magic - I define it as something that originates out of the universal force that connects us with the wisdom of the natural world. I know it is true, but I can't always explain it. And I'm OK that it's something that I feel, but I don't have words for it.”
I asked Lisa to leave us with words of wisdom/advice, here is what she had to say:
”This is not my first career, but I think it’s important that people take the risks to do what they love to do because it’s their opportunity to give birth to their ideas and put themselves into the world. I have never been regretful that I took this opportunity/change and it’s never too late to start something new. If you have passion for it, you will be rewarded every step of the way. Being willing to make a difference in the world, it’s a high-risk/high-reward thing.”
Although we haven’t been able to sum up all of the 9 years of interest within 1 blog, we did a good job at scratching the surface. Here are other interesting tidbits that you may not have known:
- We currently have 5 employees, PSB has had ~15 employees in total plus interns
- The label for PSB has progressed just as we have, label change is needed to reflect our business to the customers, it is what makes our first impression
- PSB has been through 2 FDA audits, with our first-ever audit happening on our first Cyber Monday
- The building for PSB has changed a lot:
- The gardens out front were previously concrete
- The building changed from a pale-yellow to brick red with a marquee
- The office, lab, and classroom have all had 2-3 different places in our building
- PSB employees personally got involved in renovations – tearing up carpet to lay tile, shifting office space with lab space
- A LOOOOONG time ago, this building was a tire shop, 2 grocery stores, and a daycare
- We still find candy, crayons, glitter, and small toys tucked away in the cracks of the building
- Lisa’s current favorite herb is Wild Bergamot, but always subject to change. To Lisa, Monarda fistulosa has much history in our part of the world, has been used by people that were here a long time before us and we are still using it today. It is beautiful, a sign of summer, it’s tasty, and has so many uses. Modern Herbalists will use Monarda fistulosa to clear heat, protect the respiratory system, and to calm and soothe digestion and leaky gut problems. Native people used it for whooping cough, stomach pain, and to relieve insect bites/stings. And not to overlook one of its best qualities – bees (and many other pollinators) adore this plant when it is in full bloom over Summer!
Wild Bergamot - Monarda fistulosa