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In conversation with Hillary, founder of Merigold

Introducing @merigold - a collection of seasonal natural, organic facial masks created to encourage #momentsofpause and beauty in ritual. After considering the line for Phosphene, we sat down [virtually] with Hillary, founder of Merigold, to get to know each other better - and quickly knew this special product had a home at Phosphene. We're thrilled to be partnering with Merigold and carrying Hillary's beautiful products, and know you'll love getting to know her just as much as we have.


 

Tell us about yourself - your background, et. 
And following, what is the story behind Merigold? 

I worked as a nurse at a hospital for just shy of 10 years. During that time I saw woman after woman burn out, until eventually it was me. During the last couple years of working as a nurse I decided that I wanted to do something just for fun so I went back to school and became and Natural Food Chef which [led] me to realize I loved nutrition. Then I went back to school to become a functional nutritionist. This later part what where I think now looking back - things were shifting for me. I started realizing that a lot of us are caught up in the push and we think we are “health” but eventually all that stress catches up —it’s true, the body does keep the score. 

 

I saw my mom who has been a nurse for over 30 years (still working full time) just pushing through and suffering because of it. And I didn’t want my daughter growing up thinking she needed to participate in the incessant hustle to be worthy. I knew I needed to be the example. I needed to stop, listen to my body, connect with the products I was applying to my skin, and actually care for myself.

 

MERIGOLD HILLARY FOUNDER MOTHER

During my journey in culinary and nutritionist school I had started to dabble in making my own skincare. I was starting to shift over my products and wanting clean organic products, but felt frustrated that even some of the companies that claimed to be clean, used synthetics and it was really hard to know 100% that what they were sell and what I was applying to my face was actually clean. I was complaining to my best friend and she was like “you could make your own skincare.” And so the seed was planted. I started formulating and got really into face masks. I ended up going back to school once again to get certified in formulating to help really back up what I was practicing with more knowledge.

There are so many skincare companies and products that promise something. And the reality is that our skin is an organ. Using one product isn’t going to miraculously clear up your skin or wipe away years of not sleeping. But it is with clean products, nourishing foods, sleep, water, and acknowledgment that us stopping and having a moment to reconnect with ourselves is really the most powerful gift we can give ourselves. It is better than any promise that company can sell you, it is true self care.

So here at Merigold we offer a seasonal monthly facial mask, and it is more than just skincare. It is reclaiming our moments from the endless to-dos and distractions. It is nourishing our skin, bodies and souls with quality ingredients both on and in our bodies, and taking up the  space for ourselves, so we can emerge truly refreshed.

MERIGOLD HILLARY FOUNDER MATCHA MASK

The heart and intent behind Merigold is to create a community of women, together we can reclaim our natural beauty and give ourselves space to have a moment of pause.

The Meaning Behind the Name

The name Merigold has a lot of personal meaning behind it. I grew up for some of my middle school years in Papua New Guinea (PNG). PNG is beautiful and living there was a life changing experience. There was a “me” before PNG and there was a “me” after. Living there at such a transformational age shaped how I see the world—how I see beauty and women. Meri means woman in Tok Pisin, the main trade language of PNG. Women in PNG are strong, fierce protectors of their families; they are smart, hard working, and undervalued by the culture as a whole. Their stories are always with me and PNG will always be a part of my story, my learning, me becoming me.

Marigold flowers hold a special place in my heart. The medicinal marigold flowers are known as calendula and are believed to have amazing healing properties. Marigold’s also play an important role in Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Mexico—the ancestral homeland of my husband and daughter.

BOTANICAL PRINT - MARIGOLD
botanical illustration print of a marigold flower, via pinterest.

Merigold is about honoring ourselves so we can be more present for those we love. My little family fuels me to become a better version of myself. I want to advocate, grow, and find the beauty around me and in myself so I can teach, model, and ultimately make a better world—and future—for other women. 

What does a typical working day look like?

Owning a small business means wearing a lot of hats and working both on and in your business. So no day really looks the same. But a typical day starts with me waking up around 7 am and getting in a Peloton workout in, usually after I am done with my workout my 4 year old daughter is up and ready for breakfast. So my husband and I tag team breakfast and getting her lunch ready while trading off who gets to shower. Then my husband drive my daugher off to school and I usually finish cleaning up breakfast and getting ready. I start my day off with a cup of coffee and little meditation. Usually I work at my kitchen table, but it looks out on my yard and greenhouse, so I don’t mind. I usually check emails, take meetings, and if I have any orders label and package those. Some mornings I hit the office floor formulating and mixing masks (those tend to be long days). I always have lunch, or else I can’t go on..haha. Often leftovers, salad, or lately I have been really into tuna melts. Afternoons, I will run packages to the post office, take meetings, and again get on that email. I usually wrap my day around 5 and start working on dinner and my husband and daughter come home. We eat dinner as a family and my daughter loves sharing her highs and lows of the day. After dinner either my husband or I (we trade off) will take my daughter up for bed while the other cleans up dinner. Getting a four-year-old to get to bed is no small feat, so after that has been accomplished then usually my husband and I sit and talk about our days. Since I feel like things don’t accidently happen our evening are pretty scheduled so we know which night is date, self care, or a work night. And I’m in bed by 10 pm, I love my sleep!

We’re so inspired by Merigold’s anthem. Can you share more with us about what these words mean to you, why they are so important to you? 

I wrote the anthem hoping to give the time spent an intention, a declaration. I was inspired by John O’Donohue’s book The Invisibile Embrace Beauty and wanted to help really capture why approaching beauty from a different light is vital. I never was taught the importance of checking in with myself and I wanted to help guide others to discover what pause means for them. I used to do a face mask or a bath and bring my phone along and be scrolling as I had my “self care” nights. But then I would leave not feeling any more refreshed. It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to stop and give myself space, to be fully present with myself that I started to see the benefits of those times away. So I wanted to create an anthem that would start off that time away. I wanted the words to be strong and unapologetic. I want women to start looking at how they have defined beauty for both others but also for themselves. The world doens’t need another beauty brand telling you that in order to be beautiful you need x. We need more brand encouraging women to do the work, to get to know themselves, get in the mess, discover what it means to pause, and see that when they come up- that they are beautiful- full stop.

Could you share with us any specific works of art, literature, music, etc that have been inspiring to you recently? (Or/Also - any memories, travels, movements, playlists)

I am always inspired and moved by Alex Elle’s words, she is so talented and everything she puts out I love! I also have a Merigold playlist that when I am feeling like I’m unsure of where to take Merigold or feeling a bit lost- I crank and it helps me get aligned again. It’s titled - Merigold, linked here.

What does an ideal day of rest and recharging for you include? 

An ideal day of rest and recharge would definitely include me sleeping in. Haha! Having a slow morning with my husband and daughter. Taking a walk or bike ride and spending time outside. I am also a sucker for hot springs so anytime I can add a family trip to a hot springs, I am in! I also love good food and so either being able to have time to just cook or go to a great restaurant are also things that I love. 

What are your favorite rituals for self-care? 

Every Monday night is my night that I set aside for self-care. It’s become a practice that if I miss, I feel off the rest of the week. I love to get a good book, put on a face mask (usually I am testing new formulations), and soak in the tub. Even as I am writing this, I am getting the urge to throw in a rogue night…haha. 

MERIGOLD HILLARY FACE MASK FOUNDER

What are some of your favorite objects in your home?

My plants! It’s a little out of control, I have so many plants. But they bring me so much joy and life! I have one aloe plant that was my Grandmas and when she had to move out of her house and in with my Aunt and Uncle we all went over to help her pack and minimize. She asked me what I want that was hers, and I said that plant. She has passed but every time I look at my aloe plant I think of her and love that I have something that is still living that she loved and cared for. See, I have emotional ties to my plants. Haha!

What is something that you’re proud of, personally and/or professionally? 

Honestly, I am really proud of myself that I was a nurse but also that I was brave enough to leave a career that I knew so well. It took a lot for me and this path is definitely not as paved out for me, but I have learned so much and feel like I have grown in ways that I would have never grown if I had stayed. 

What are you looking forward to? 

Spring and Summer! I love to garden and spend so much time outside. I can’t wait to get my garden going and just have summer evenings outside. On a professional note, I am really excited that Merigold is going to be at Showfields in New York for the next 6 months! It will be such a fun time to learn and grow!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

That trusting yourself is healing. If I am honest this journey of starting and running Merigold had brought with it so much learning. I have had to grow in my understanding and knowledge of business but ultimately in understanding and knowledge of myself. There have been certain things that I have had to pivot or let go of with Merigold but there are things that I deeply believe and refuse to let go of and I have found that those are the things that make Merigold what it is. I have had to learn to trust my gut, trust those things that I am unwilling to let go of and even that act, has been transformational.

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