Kirsten Shanks is the naturopath and entrepreneur behind Orchard St.
The innovative health and wellness enterprise that has garnered a loyal following with local communities in Bronte, Bondi, Paddington and beyond.
Since first opening their doors in 2013, the business has flourished, branching not only into a space offering formulated elixirs, essences, juices, teas and purposefully curated lifestyle products for daily rituals, but also a Natural Health Clinic, which attracts a varied collective of health practitioners and specialists in alternative therapies.
At the heart of Kirsten’s work is the simple desire to support a healthy state of mind, body and soul. We spent a morning with her in Orchard St. Bondi, where we met her dog, Queenie and watched as Kirsten showed us how to use some of her elixirs and essences to prepare a nourishing drink, perfect for crisp winter mornings.
What can you tell us about the drink you're making right now? Can you share the recipe?
I was working towards a blissful elixir here, one to ease the nerves and warm the spirit...a hug in a mug. I’ve used —
300ml coconut mylk
3 Tb cacao powder
1⁄2 tsp Bliss Elixir Powder
1⁄2 tsp Reishi
1 Tb coconut nectar
1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of cayenne
A pinch of salt
4 drops of Peace Essence
A sprinkle of rose petals
What can you share with us about some of the hero ingredients and their benefits, from a herbalist’s perspective?
Alongside the mood-lifting properties of Cacao that we are all in love with, we have; Bliss Elixir Powder - our seven potent Elixir Powders unite naturopathic insight with organic herbs and mushrooms from Western, Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicines.
Bliss is our adaptogenic blend, offering deep adrenal and nervous system support. It's a powerfully supportive combination of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Herbs; tulsi, astragalus, siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, shilajit, rhodiola and brahmi.
In the drink I also add Reishi, I like to think of this iconic ‘queen mushroom’ as a nourisher of spirit. Alongside many immune and antiinflammatory properties, Reishi has the ability to encourage the nerves to return to a peaceful equilibrium. Taking the edge off, and then some.
And some drops of Peace Essence - Our essences are vibrational remedies, subtle energetic imprints of Australian Bush Flower and Alaskan Gems. This blend is the bringer of inner peace, harmony and balance.
Can you talk us through how you use the elixirs? How do you incorporate them into your own daily rituals? In which other ways can we use them?
Plant medicines are at the cornerstone of my days; connecting to and reaping the benefits from these potent botanicals powers me through whatever life may bring. You can play around with them, add to your favourite raw cacao or bliss ball recipes, but the easiest way to incorporate them into a daily ritual is to weave them into your morning beverage.
—Tune into your needs. How are you feeling? What do you need? Energy? Stress Support?
—Select your remedy/s accordingly; elixir powders and mushrooms combine beautifully.
—Add to your morning smoothie/coffee/elixir.
—Notice how you feel throughout the day.
What do the elixir powders pair well with?
As our elixir powders and mushrooms are all a little bitter, they tend to pair best with other slightly bitter, earthy flavours such as cacao, dandelion, turmeric or chai. Using a good quality, plant-based milk and a dollop of natural sweetener can go a long way.
How did you develop the concept for an elixir bar?
I am first and foremost a Naturopath; a herbalist with a deep and all consuming reverence for the plant kingdom. I launched Orchard St. first online with our holistic juice cleanses ~ each beverage enhanced with botanicals from the very beginning.
Our first store in Bronte was opened soon after as a nutritional and herbal dispensary, and a shopfront for my naturopath clinic. The Elixir Bar concept arose as I hoped to illustrate ways to weave these plant medicines into food and beverages, to demonstrate how easily you can connect to, and reap the benefits from herbal medicines. Everything you find within our Elixir Bars is potentised with botanicals, whether an iced elixir, green juice or caramel slice, you have the opportunity to experience the life enhancing properties of herbal medicine in every bite or sip.
As a business owner, how do you carve out time in your own life for moments of calm?
Time with children forces you to slow down, to be present. When I’m with my son the world and its worries fade away, most of the time.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m not really much of a shopper. I tend to buy a few quality pieces and hang onto them for years. I definitely live by the motto “quality over quantity”. Even if that means I might look a little rugged and passé at times!
Do you have a kind of "work uniform"?
This winter I’ve been really enjoying jeans, I think I’ve been feeling the need for the snugness they bring? I typically go for softer, looser trousers to allow me to sit cross legged at the desk and break out into yoga/dance whenever the urge arises. My Summer uniform is generally these trousers I’m wearing, with a cami and slides, or shorts with a silk or linen shirt, maybe a kimono, and paired with my RM Williams.