Since 2018, Leigh Joseph, owner of Sḵwálwen Botanicals has grown her skincare business to an all-female team of six, a thriving e-commerce website, and products sold in over fifty retailers across Canada, including Billies House in Squamish. For those unfamiliar with the beauty biz, to say that is vertical growth in just four years is an understatement.
“I love the opportunity for collaboration, building a team of primarily Indigenous women,” says Joseph. “It’s really exciting, to be able to go on the land and continue to connect to cultural plant knowledge is so rewarding.”
Sḵwálwen Botanicals is a complete line of sustainably harvested and sourced botanicals, where Joseph explains “we unite ancestral traditions with modern beauty rituals, empowering people to connect to themselves and the natural world, here in the Unceded Territories of the Skwxẃu7mesh (Squamish) First Nation.”
In an industry where “Indigenous representation is still very low,” Joseph’s brand has had some impressive media outlets take notice, like Flare, Elle Canada, and Chatelaine magazine, with editorial coverage that shares her backstory as well as product line up.
“My background as an ethnobotanist, training in both western science and botany plus my cultural knowledge allows me to approach this space from a unique standpoint,” Joseph says. “That really creates opportunities for innovative product formulations as well as how we tell the story, and type of context we bring to plant-based beauty space.”
Committed to a sustainable supply chain with their botanical ingredients and aiming to increase sustainability and reduce carbon imprint, Sḵwálwen Botanicals is collaborating with small-scale organic farms and growers from Indigenous communities to grow botanicals for their product line as well as giving back to the land.
The line includes face and body products plus teas and candles, with the multi-use healing salves being one of the best sellers since the brand’s launch and the wild rose facial oil a close second. “The formulation has stayed the same since the beginning with excellent feedback,” says Joseph. “I love the scent; wild rose just embodies summer and being outdoors.”
Every quarter Sḵwálwen Botanicals does a ceremony release of new products, with donating 10% proceeds to Indigenous foundations.
Presently, Joseph is finishing her doctoral studies in botany plus working on a book coming out in September 2022, which will dive deeper into her journey, include recipes, the language and range of plants in the area. She’s also contributing to an updated plant field guide through the Royal BC Museum.
For more information about Sḵwálwen Botanicals products, visit skwalwen.com.