Chatting Young Adulthood, Herbs, and Flower Remedies with Woash Wellness Founder, Cassy Vantriet
Woash Wellness is a Vancouver-based herbal wellness brand founded in 2018 by globe-trotter and holistic health enthusiast, Cassy Vantriet.
The idea was conceived partly from one of Vantriet's earliest childhood memories of sharing an after-dinner cup of tea with her Oma. Albeit, a half-milk, half-sugar brew of Costco-bought Red Rose or Orange Pekoe was what the two were enjoying at the time, boiled in a beautiful teapot complete with a tea light underneath, Cassy reminisces.
Through this initial experience, Vantriet naturally developed a love for the tradition and practice of drinking tea - be that by herself or with a companion. The ritual of rising in the morning and having a routine with a cup of tea evoked a sense of coziness and warmth for her, allowing an outlet to set her intentions for the day. This moment was where it all began.
Cassy grew up in the suburbs of White Rock, BC, with her parents and older sister, where she attended a Christian school from Kindergarten to Grade 8 and then transferred to public school for the remainder of high school.
A defining part of her formative years, she says, was that she was never a good student, often struggling with her grades and feeling a lack of accomplishment within the traditional school system. Despite this, she found her outlet in sports and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.
Vantriet recalls how her family was always into healthy living, allowing her to adopt good habits from an earlier age. Her mother owned a gym and ran marathons, while her father was active in community sports. The family also kept their diets as clean as possible with no sugar, candy, or bad breakfast cereals.
As Vantriet got older and graduated high school, these healthy sentiments stuck with her and became second nature. She found her body craving a salad over a burger and fries - it was how she naturally liked to eat and fuel her body. And eventually, she had people coming to her for healthy eating and workout advice.
In other words, creating a wellness brand was a natural and authentic decision for her.
Entering the Real World
Post-high-school graduation, Vantriet was serving in a restaurant and trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life and facing the terrifying realization of most 18-year-olds: she had no clue. While her parents encouraged post-secondary, she envisioned working for herself on her own schedule and having the freedom to travel whenever she pleased.
"I love spontaneity and taking risks, trying new things, and having new experiences. I never like doing things twice. So, traveling comes very innately to me and is something I crave all the time. I wanted to create what I thought I'd want my life to look like in the future, especially that flexibility."
However, due to parental and societal pressure, Vantriet did end up attending university, although very briefly. In her first semester, she failed three out of four classes and once again the pressure of struggling with school weighed heavy on her, specifically the idea of how she couldn't meet the academic standard of her peers.
"I was trying to find my way, but I felt super lost in my 20s. I didn't know what I wanted to do and why I even had to know at that exact moment. I ended up telling my parents I wasn't returning to school and was instead going to travel."
An Idea Is Born
So, she quit university, packed her bags, and went to Thailand and Australia for four months solo, where she submerged herself in the different cultures, met new people, and had new experiences.
She recalls how on those trips, she was always seeking a solution. A magical spark or 'a-ha' moment where she would figure out what she was going to do for the rest of her life - her life's purpose. Unfortunately, she ended up returning home empty-handed and resolved to re-enter the restaurant industry and move to downtown Vancouver where she lived for the past ten years.
She describes the restaurant industry as a bit toxic at times with the partying, drinking, and late nights - her life pivoted in that direction. But by the time she was 25, Vantriet decided she was ready to go back to school and get her feet wet with some business education, however not before another extensive trip.
She traveled for eight months all around Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Fiji, going to around thirteen countries in total. While it was an amazing trip, once again she did not have a big epiphany on her life's purpose.
After returning from her eight-month trip she attended BCIT for two years and received her Business Management diploma. She selected this program specifically because it touched on everything from entrepreneurship, marketing, business operations, accounting, and more.
Following graduation, Cassy went on another trip. This time she traveled with her husband for six months to Central and South America
"It was on those last few trips where the idea [for Woash Wellness] sprouted from visiting tea and coffee plantations, and just seeing how the cultures relied on the idea of nature to sustain their environment and livelihood from culinary, food, ceremonial practices, and supplying money for their families through farming it... it was so embedded."
These travels provided an excellent opportunity for Vantriet to see a different perspective on how wellness in different parts of the world was so interwoven within the culture. Whereas, in North America, it's a trend and fad, with a new herb or product being en vogue any given week.
"I wanted to capture that culture, feeling, and ancient approach to it. It was so beautiful and I aimed to embody that and bring it back here and make it accessible and easy and have people be able to use our products in a way that was approachable and affordable but also take control back over their everyday well-being and support themselves on a day-to-day basis."
The Making of The Products
Woash Wellness' current offering consists of loose-leaf teas and flower remedies for specific daily purposes and ailments like Stress, Brain Fog, PMS, Fatigue, Digestion, and more. They also offer accessories to help you get the most out of your tea routine like a steeper, mug, and a beeswax candle.
Longterm, Cassy envisions Woash Wellness to be a lifestyle brand. She emphasizes how all of the products the company creates must be embedded and rooted within utilizing the benefits of herbs. She has no plans to start venturing outside this philosophy when it comes to extending their product line.
All future products will allow customers to implement the use of herbs and their benefits easily into their lifestyle, enhancing their everyday well-being. If tea doesn't work for them, then maybe a flower remedy will because it's on the go and requires just a few drops per day. Whereas a tea practice, if you’re not a tea drinker, can be a large practice to adopt initially.
When it comes to the production of the products, organic ingredients, and sustainable farming practices were non-negotiable for Vantriet and the Woash team. This brought major hurdles and costs to starting the company from the beginning.
The goal was to eliminate any sort of pesticides and chemicals that would be in contact with the herbs and to work with only specific suppliers that in turn, work with farms all over the world, instead of local. The majority of ingredients are sourced globally, with only a small amount sourced locally. Vantriet aims to acquire them from their indigenous regions where they are the most potent and high-quality.
"We want people to be able to open the bag, see the leaves, and be transported into the energy of nature. We wanted to create that experience with a cup of tea. So, we use the whole leaves of each ingredient and that’s why you’re going to see the whole leaf of calendula, and the whole berry of an elderberry, and all those different elements - you’re going to see the whole thing!
What’s also beautiful is when you’re making a cup of tea, they all expand, which you can see. The rose petals will expand and the calendula will expand, everything gets bigger. It encompasses that vision of the expansiveness, openness, and invitingness of nature."
Moreover, the wellness blends contain no flavorings or sweeteners, which is what Vantriet believes differentiates Woash from other tea companies.
"This is where I get frustrated with the tea industry. These herbs and all these flavorings - they’re derived from the actual herb. Why aren’t we maximizing and showcasing the actual herbs and what they have to offer to the flavor profile or the benefits of the cup of tea? I wanted it to be so pure and to create blends that complimented each other and were able to build the overall profile and benefit of the blend."
Diving Into Flower Remedies
Aside from the loose-leaf teas, the other major offering Woash has are their flower remedies - but what exactly is a flower remedy?
Literally, the remedies are drops you place on your tongue throughout the day that is a blend of unique flower essences. While tea deals with issues and ailments within the physical realm (i.e. inflammation, skin issues, discomfort), flower remedies work with the issues on the emotional and spiritual level.
In general, all herbs and flowers carry very different energetics.
For example, the energetics of tea consists of their properties and constituents like anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, immune-boosting, and calming, among others - while the energetics of flower remedies deal with the emotions themselves.
The flower remedy system was developed in the English countryside in the 1930s by British physician and microbiologist Dr. Edward Bach, who was sick himself. Dr. Bach believed there were 38 different emotions that we all suffer from and if any of those fell out of balance, that is when triggers, anger, frustrations, (or any negative emotions) could manifest into physical ailments.
He noticed that people who healed faster had more balanced emotions. Moreover, people who had lower emotions or negative emotions didn’t heal fast or at all. He wanted to tune into that and create a system that was going to help balance those emotions - so, he created 38 flower remedies each aimed at a particular emotional state. The Woash team looked at these 38 remedies and selected three to four to blend to create their specific remedies for a purpose, meant to complement their tea.
Flower remedies are super gentle and safe for anyone to use, including children, the elderly, and pregnant women.
The process in which the remedies are produced is through clipping the individual flowers in the English countryside under the sun, into a crystal bowl filled with spring water. They’re then sun-steeped for a minimum of four hours and then the flowers are removed.
During the four-hour period, the energetic property of the flower gets imprinted on the water. Then the water is specifically preserved by being placed into organic alcohol and then packaged for consumption.
The Creative Process
Inspiration for creating new tea blends comes from everywhere. Cassy takes into account what her customers are craving each season. For example, their new summer sippers are a Hibiscus Lemonade tea and a Beauty Base tea.
"People love hibiscus, and we listen a lot to our community and what they're after. I also pay a lot of attention to the season. If you think of nature, it is a cyclical cycle and our bodies are in sync with that.
We crave certain foods, herbs, and taste profiles during different seasons. An easy example would be in the Fall and Winter when you’re going to crave those more warming spices like ginger, cardamom, and clove - the ones that warm you up from within. Whereas, in the summer you tend to lean towards the more citrusy and sour things that are brighter and juicier. So that is our hibiscus lemonade - we’ve got lots of citruses, and we did that juicy hibiscus that’s going to support the community during this season."
Another part of the inspiration for the Hibiscus Lemonade came from Cassy's experience of spending hot summer days on the beaches of Australia and sipping on an indigenous red drink that was juicy, flavorful, and refreshing. Full of citruses and berries, she wanted to re-create that hydrating experience in a tea version. The creative process consists of a lot of samples and revisions until the perfect brew is found.
Vantriet also enjoys collaboration when it comes to developing new tea blends as well. Beauty Base, the second summer blend Woash introduced for the season (which took two years to perfect!) was created in collaboration with Colette Yeomans of Clarité Wellness, an expert celebrity facialist and herbalist. They had the goal of making a blend that would bring out the skin's natural radiance in addition to being used topically in the form of a toner, facial steam, or face oil as well.
When asked, Vantriet says the creative process is based on her intuition.
"If things are easy and exciting me I’m just going to follow that. If things feel hard and like a struggle, then it just isn’t the time for it. I let that go, and surrender to the process, and hope and trust something else is going to come our way that's more in alignment."
What’s In A Name?
Along with her extensive world travels, the company was inspired by West Coast living and the nature-infused city of Vancouver, complete with the mountains and oceans that are represented by the deep ocean blue of the branding.
After hours on Google trying to hone in on the perfect word for her brainchild, Vantriet carefully devised the onomatopoeic name "Woash." What exactly does "Woash" mean? It's based on the intimate language of the ocean waves and how they crash on the shoreline, creating that beautiful, foaming whitewash we've all come to be familiar with.
How Has Woash Wellness Buttered Cassy's Soul?
"Honestly, it’s changed my life. It’s allowed me to learn so much about myself, and grow in ways that I’ve never expected, to see myself in a very different view - again, as I shared earlier, I didn’t do well in school and I felt very below average.
Having this business and being able to be the creator of it and go at the whim of whatever I feel and want to do, it's allowed me to tap into my intuition and really create and craft this life that I wanted and always dreamed for myself. There’s so much gratitude for that.
I wouldn’t be the same person without it for sure. It’s taught me so much about business, and also helping me grow personally and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and healing relationships with my family and friends.
It’s tapped me into such a different part of myself of just having the confidence, the knowing, the ability to push boundaries on all levels and just stand on my own two feet and know who I am at the end of the day."
Woash Wellness products are available for purchase at grocers, boutiques, and other retailers across North America. Be sure to check out woashwellness.com for their complete product offering and follow them on Instagram @woashwellness