Ever since Jennifer Lee Segale started clipping her grandma's hedges as a 6-year-old, she's been playing in the dirt. "I've never been a girly girl. I'm a plant dork," says the 32-year-old Californian, who runs her own landscaping business, designing and planting residential and rooftop gardens. Of course, at the end of a long workday outside, even a plant dork could use a little soothing aromatherapy ("I love getting dirty, but I also look forward to that Cinderella moment of getting clean"). However, Segale had a surprisingly tough time finding natural products made from her beloved botanicals. "Even at the farmers' market I'd find artificial stuff," she says. "Jasmine oil should smell like jasmine!"

So in 2008, Segale decided to broaden her knowledge of the plant world and began researching the healing properties of plants like mint and lavender, along with formulas for fragrances and soaps. Before long, she was testing batches of a scrub made with sugar and the petals from the roses that grew in her backyard. When she couldn't keep up with her friends' and family's requests for more of the concoction, Segale knew she was onto something.

Today she spends as much time in her own garden as in her clients', growing ingredients (agave, citrus, herbs) for Garden Apothecary, her line of products that are pleasing to both nose and skin: an anti-inflammatory lavender bath tea, a vanilla scrub with vitamin E. She also makes twice-yearly visits to Belize—where she sources crops like wild yam root and cacao—to discover more medicinal plants. Segale thinks of her side business as a kind of grassroots movement: "There's always something to learn about plants, and they're often right outside our door," she says. "I hope my products will help people realize, hey, nature's pretty cool." We dig it.


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