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Spotting Fakes: A Rant About Fake Botanicals

How can you spot real hand-made local botanicals in a world filled with fakes?

In the Pacific Northwest, on a remote island, we’ve spent almost ten years mastering the art of crafting plant-based remedies. Our days are a whirlwind of tasks: tending, picking, foraging, distilling, and meticulously labeling our bottles. With all these duties, there’s hardly time for the sales pitch, let alone explaining the depth of our work.

Our mission was simple: create a sustainable business that leaves no scars on our island’s natural beauty. Self-reliance was our motto. But now, we face a new challenge that’s infiltrated the farmers’ markets and small businesses we once cherished.

Among genuine artisans, there are impostors masquerading as craftsmen. They sell essential oils, soaps, and bath bombs, not made by their hands but churned out in distant factories. These items are repackaged with “homemade” labels, courtesy of home printers. They’ve perfected the art of deception, passing off their goods as handmade at craft fairs, hiding behind the guise of small-scale production.

These savvy entrepreneurs use the farmers’ market spirit to shield their deceit and greed. They profit from a false story, selling a tale of hands-on craftsmanship far from reality. This is jarring, especially when compared to the true intentions of market-goers. Early risers with baskets aren’t there because they have no other options. They’re there to support local, small-scale artisans and invest in a community that values the personal touch of the creator.

In a world where “greenwashing” infiltrates even grassroots gatherings, one question remains: does making a product by hand still hold its value? For us, in our daily botanical dance, it’s not just a method; it’s a philosophy – a commitment to authenticity, sustainability, and community, qualities becoming scarce in a world drifting towards superficial mass-production.

We’re here to equip you with a handy set of questions to help you steer clear of counterfeit homemade goods. When you’re considering a botanical-based business, these questions are your trusty litmus test. If they’re the real deal, crafting their own products from scratch, they’ll pass these questions with flying colors!

For example, just take a look online, and you’ll see how many companies don’t actually make what they sell. Many imitation products flood online marketplaces like Amazon, making it harder than ever to find the genuine article. Don’t fall for the fakes – use these questions to separate the real artisans from the impostors!

  1. What is the origin of your botanical ingredients?
    • Understanding where their ingredients come from can indicate whether they are locally sourced or imported. For instance, a lot of popular plants are unable to grow in our Canadian climate.
  2. Can you explain your sourcing process for these botanicals?
    • Look for details about their relationships with growers or their own growing practices.
  3. Do you grow any of your botanical ingredients yourself? If so, can you describe your cultivation methods?
    • This question helps determine if they are directly involved in the growing process.
  4. How do you ensure the quality and purity of your botanical ingredients?
    • Quality control measures can reveal their level of involvement in the production process.
  5. What extraction or processing methods do you use for your botanicals?
    • Details about extraction or processing methods can help differentiate between handcrafted and mass-produced products.
  6. Are there any unique properties or benefits of your botanical products compared to others on the market?
    • Answers should highlight specific qualities that stem from their production methods.
  7. How do you handle large orders or increased demand?
    • Their response can indicate whether they rely on outsourced production or maintain in-house production even when scaling up.
  8. Can you share stories or experiences from creating your botanical products?
    • Genuine stories often contain detailed anecdotes and personal experiences in product creation.
  9. Do you collaborate with local farmers or botanical experts?
    • Collaboration with local experts can be a sign of a genuine, grassroots operation.
  10. Have your products undergone any third-party testing or certification?
    • Certifications can provide validation of their claims about the source and quality of their ingredients.

These questions can help you uncover the depth of any business’s involvement in the sourcing, growing, and processing of their botanical ingredients, helping you discern whether they are truly producing their own products or simply repackaging items from elsewhere.

Happy Misting!

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