Fig + Yarrow is an unconventional brand. It’s unconventional in its appearance, it’s unconventional in its ingredients, and it’s unconventional even in the type of products it has, like tooth powder and seasonal skin steamers.
Of course, Fig+Yarrow was founded by an unconventional woman, Brandy Monique, who lives in Colorado. She’s a sort of plant whisperer, who crafts organic health and vanity products from botanical and earth elements that are designed to provide “sensual enjoyment, physical radiance and overall vitality.” Lush, beautiful, and clean, the products evoke a magical, secretive and genteel lifestyle.
Monique (a last name she chose for herself when she declared independence from her family) was studying Buddhist-inspired psychology when she took an elective course in plant spirit medicine. She stuck with it for two years, describing it as, “having a relationship with plants that involves shamanic journeying. You speak to the spirit of the plant. It required me to be sensitive in a way I hadn’t been in touch with for a long time. I remembered as a kid I would roam around in the yard, pluck berries and herbs.” So she sat down to meditate on the questions of what she would do after school. Fig+Yarrow was born.
Fig+Yarrow seems utterly unique in the way she handles plants (the closest other brand might be Marble & Milkweed). “It is a form of traditional culture,” Monique says. “Cultures everywhere have a shamanic heritage. You can find evidence of it mostly in tradition, but I’ve never seen anyone doing it in a contemporary medium, and especially not with beauty.”
Monique has spent years finding the exquisitely selected ingredients, which are sourced from all over. “Most of the ingredients have to be raw in addition to organic. It keeps many of the constituents that are beneficial intact. It’s a bit tricky, because you have very limited sources. Initially when I very first started, I was trying to do a purely locally-sourced, indigenous, wild crafted line, and it was too limiting. So I had to keep expanding more and more. It’s been a process too of verifying that they’re good and pure, have certifications. We have for instance Tumalo Lavender Farm in Oregon.”
Her products are dense with active ingredients, with no fillers. She uses honey, vinegar, and a little bit of probiotics as natural preservatives. Monique only recently stopped making everything herself, after moving the business from her home into a larger facility and hiring people to work in the kitchen. She continues to do all the formulating, however. I ask her, given her vibrant affinity for plants, if she might have some type of synesthesia.
“I think there’s a point where you feel something so intensely that it spills over into the other senses. I don’t think it’s diagnosable, but when you feel so moved by a flavor or a sound, you can’t help but to get a sense of other colors, the music might even move you physically and you can feel it in your body. It’s such an intangible essence, it comes as more as a feeling, and it starts to take more and more form. Say the alpine pumice treatment–I get a sense of what I want it to be, I start to put together essential oils that are helpful for any foot condition, and I want that alpine sense, so I incorporate a green clay instead of a red clay or black clay. You almost get these aromatic notes that resonate with certain colors and textures. That’s the synesthesia, when it starts to take on its identity with a color or a name.”
One of her favorite products in the extensive line in the line is the yarrow butter cream, which saves her hands after repeated washings. But she also sent me a few of her products to test. Her coffee scrub is a yummy (if very messy) way to perk up your morning in the shower. The lavender and corn mint tooth scrub is the cutest little bottle of toothpaste you’ll see. It takes a bit of getting used to—there’s no foaming action and you’ll always end up dumping as much into the sink as you do on your brush.
But her seasonal herbal steamers are a delight. On a dreary, wet, cold autumn evening after a long day, I poured hot water over her autumn mix, which has figwort, rosemary, cornflower, reshape, orange peel, juniper berry, star anise and cardamom, for “skin nourishment and purification as well as mental calm and clarity.” I placed a towel over my head, closed my eyes, and managed to find a resting place with my forehead on the lip of the bowl, where I could almost fall asleep, inhaling the complex, warm notes.
After the herbal broth had cooled, I spritzed my face with her rose, sandalwood, and neroli complexion water, for toning and hydrating the skin. You would think this ritual would leave my skin dry, but it only felt soft and prettified.
Brandy’s Favorite Places in Denver
“Socially, I work so much I don’t get out too terribly much. I like the small intimate places that are tucked in. One of my favorite places are A Côté, next to Z Cuisine. If I’m feeling particularly indulgent, debaucherous, frisky, I don’t know, I’ll go to Forest Room. The food is great. It’s a good setup, it’s not uptight. It feels like the perfect representation of Colorado but in the city, and they do art shows. There’s a newer place called The Source that has opened up. They have brilliant art shows every month. It’s like a collective. The MCA is great, they’ve always got events and shows and rooftop libations.
“You can get out of the city so easily and find great stuff. My friend shay has a line of bitters, Dram Apothecary, that she wildcrafts. She also runs a bread bar. In just 40 minutes you can be out of the city, and you can be having a cocktail, hanging out, it feels like a world away.”