Qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist, Kirsten Shanks is a wellness warrior through and through. Kirsten believes in the power of food as medicine and launched Orchard St. in 2013 as a means to spread her philosophy and passion for nature, food and healing with others.
There’s no question that when it comes to health and wellness, Kirsten is a fountain of knowledge and an expert in terms of to how to nourish ourselves from within for optimal health and wellbeing…
You’ve just returned from Sri Lanka, do you feel the version of beauty there is different to Australia and if so, how?
Sri Lanka. Even the memory of it conjures up a heavenly nostalgia for me; tropical beaches bordering mountains of tea.
With our modern attachment to social media it can seem beauty is often found only when inspired by influencers, liked by our followers or taken from the pages of a magazine. There, I found a profound beauty in the mundane. Without the distraction of ‘influence’, the simplest practices; picking tea, grinding seed or caring for children become acts of deep reverence. Seeing someone give their full presence, yet maintain such a lightness of being, a contagious joy and a natural grace is to witness an act of true beauty.
You founded Orchard St in 2013, however the principles held by your clinic and dispensary are ones that you’ve held true for many years. How do you manage the rigours and stresses of business, while remaining true to these values? And how do you empower your team with your beliefs?
Orchard St. was created as a life-enhancing offering, each individual experience intended to subtly elevate the collective experience of wellness. I’ve always been a bit reluctant to put myself at the front of it, not wanting to blur the integrity of what we do with the story behind it. But I also recognise it’s the clarity of my vision, intention, naturopathic insight and direction that steers us.
I’ve always been pretty good at detaching from the stresses of business and maintaining a deep connection to that innate calm within. Meditation and self-study practices are instrumental for this. You realise the transitory, illusionary nature to all the matters we can get so consumed with. It’s not about disregarding the importance of what you do, but removing the emotional attachment to the outcome so you can remain calm and clear to be of the best service to the business and people within it.
I deeply love and respect my team, they are an incredible collection of humans and the Orchard St. experience would not be the same without them. We are a sum of our parts. With this respect I gently empower them with understanding, then allow them the full responsibility of holding their own within our spaces. I run a monthly training most new moons, where we share guidance, feedback, new products and a big home-cooked feast.
In a number of interviews you’ve mentioned your passion meeting your purpose – which is a kind of inner beauty in and of itself – do you think this can happen for everyone?
I believe we all have our reason for being, raison d’être, our Ikigai, our dharma. This arises when what we value moves us into action, into creation and gives us soulful purpose.
I am fortunate to have always felt incredibly inspired by my passion to heal and that this manifested into a sustainable business concept. While I think everyone can find the calling that lights up their soul, we also need to release the expectation that this alignment will be found in our choice of occupation. The search for purpose can take a lifetime and may well have nothing to do with money. Perhaps once we realise nothing we do is meaningless – that we contribute to the greater good through every single one of our actions and our relationships – we move closer to this purpose. Your reason for being may not be in a job that aligns with your passion but in the many moments beyond work hours.
Has your perception of inner and outer beauty changed since becoming a mum?
Oh yes – so much so, that I have been moved to tears by the beauty of women on many encounters since. Strength is the word that comes to mind. The strength with which women rise and meet the challenges of the day with grace and loving softness… even when very sleep deprived, utterly exhausted and fairly low in spirit.
Motherhood awakens your ability to clearly navigate how you spend your time; you learn to ruthlessly prioritise. Work hours are limited and valuable – if I have to pay someone else to care for my baby right now, I won’t let a moment be wasted. As always, first and foremost, you will tend to the needs of this little heart.
As you redefine your sense of yourself, everything you thought you were falls away. Nothing matters more than this life, and the love you feel for them. There is the most profound, expansive beauty in a woman glowing with love. Outer beauty is truly only an expression of inner beauty.
What does Inner Beauty mean to you?
Love. Kindness. There is a translucence and a glow to women who are truly compassionate, they seem to light up the world around them. The deepest compassion also encompasses oneself; demonstrating self-love through the way we care for our bodies and tend to the needs of our souls.
I always seem to… be drinking tea.
What do you do to get your daily GLOW on?
A few non-negotiables in my morning ritual. The length varies depending on how long I have before Sonny comes rampaging in!
A moment to connect with my heart; my husband.
Pranayama, movement and meditation. Pranayama is paramount, it’s this Prana, this life force, that cultivates radiance.
Dancing. I found myself yearning for softer fluidity, a more feminine flow after many years of a strongly linear Yoga practise. Sonny loves getting his hip circling spaghetti wiggles on with me of a morning.
Botanicals throughout; starts with 3 bowls of pu erh tea, moves into herbal tonics and peaks at elixirs.
And of course the limitless green juice.
Can you give us an example of a time you’ve listened to your gut instinct?
We’ve had a fair few potential investors over the years, coming with the promise of growth and expansion, the allure of no more financial stress, the limitless potential to share our offerings with so many more. We’ve come within moments of signing deals before I’ve honoured a gut feeling, listened to my truth, and pressed pause.
Listening to… Sonny singing himself to sleep makes me feel at peace.
I love days when my only problem is… what book to read next.
What does inner beauty mean to you? Join the conversation by heading to @TheBeautyChef