For almost a decade, a Chinese-Thai family in Thousand Oaks, CA grew with the natural products industry. They are proud of the healing power of bamboo which they bring from China to the United States and the efforts they put into facilitating sustainable development throughout the manufacturing process. Today, this family’s award-winning company, The Healing Tree, LLC, is ready to share their stories through their soon-to-be published book, Under the Healing Tree: 8 Ways to Grow Your Natural Products Business. After visiting their booth at this year’s Natural Products Expo West, I talked to Joe Lam, the director of marketing, about how they strive to offer sustainable solutions for people in their community and the world at large.
Why did The Healing Tree, LLC decide to specialize in an Apothecary & Tea Bar in 2004?
We opened an Apothecary & Tea Bar because my dad, our CEO, knew that my brother was studying Chinese medicine and had an interest in becoming an herbalist with his own store. The two of them, along with my mom, partnered together in the business and the shop has grown in popularity within the local community of Thousand Oaks, CA and we’re coming upon its 10th anniversary. The store specializes in tea and herbs from all around the world and that was definitely a part of our Chinese and Thai culture. We’ve always been tea drinkers due to its many health benefits and my brother is the one who wanted to share that with people.
How did The Healing Tree branch out to bamboo charcoal products?
We branched out to create bamboo charcoal products while my brother, Moe, managed the store on his own. The story goes that in 2009, my dad was visiting China and stumbled upon bamboo charcoal in its raw, powder form and learned of its unique properties. My dad created a prototype bamboo charcoal seat mat and offered it to friends to try out. Everyone responded with positive feedback from its warming and cooling sensations and benefits such as alleviating joint problems, boosting energy at work, improving sleep quality, and helping to recover faster from injuries. When they asked if they could buy it for their family and friends, that’s when he knew he should bring this technology to the rest of the world.
How would you evaluate the industry’s and the customer’s reactions to your products?
We have many wholesale distributors in the U.S. and internationally (U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia/New Zealand, and the Philippines), online businesses, and retail stores that carry our products so that’s a good indicator that the products are working for people. As for individual customers, we have numerous stories of how our products have improved their daily lifestyle. One of our favorite stories is from Judy, a 63 year old avid bowler, who says she can’t bowl a full game without wearing the Bamboo Pro Knee Support. So, rather than giving up on what she loves doing due to joint issues, it’s helped her remain active and keep up with her friends. There are a lot more stories that your readers can read about or watch videos on our website.
Would you tell us something about the new book you are working on regarding the cooperation and development of family businesses?
Sure, the book I’m writing is called Under The Healing Tree: 8 Ways to Grow Your Natural Products Business. In it we share valuable insights for business owners to grow their own natural products businesses. It also includes our journey of what happens when a parent decides to go into business with their children and all the ups and downs that come with it. It was a difficult experience, but luckily for us we were able to pull through, learn about ourselves, and grow together as a family. That’s not always the case with the majority of family businesses. We’ve pre-sold 25 copies and the book will be published by The Raymond Aaron Group, scheduled for release in July 2013.
Are you currently working on projects with any companies that you would like to tell the readers of GreenLifestyles.org about?
We are in discussions with a company that wants to bring our Bamboo Pro Joint Supports and Geo Wrap Adjustable Supports into the Golf market so we’re excited about that. We are also looking into starting a charity or donation program and we’re trying to determine what’s needed in our society and how we can best help to give something back. If your readers have any suggestions about how we can provide or donate our products to charities in need, we’d love to hear them. They can email me directly at [email protected]
How would you comment on The Healing Tree’s experience at the Natural Products Expo West 2013?
This was our 3rd year at Expo West and our booth is always packed with people. We launched three new product lines there which were the Geo Wrap Adjustable Supports, Achy Paws Pet Mats, and Healing Tree Soaps (Bamboo Charcoal, Green Tea, and Bamboo Vinegar). They were all a big hit and we are excited to bring them to the market.
Which other Expos do you attend to help your business grow?
We’ve attended expos such as Conscious Life, New Living, Health Freedom, and Green Living. This year we plan to attend IDEA World Fitness, which is a perfect fit for athletes seeking unique products with natural technology such as our Bamboo Pro and Geo Wrap joint supports. We’ll also be attending Expo East for the first time this year to reach out to the East Coast.
How do you deal with the impacts that the manufacturing process has on the environment? For example, the “Why Bamboo Charcoal” video on your website mentioned that the bamboo is from China and that the creation of bamboo charcoal requires firing bamboo stalks up to 1,800 °F. How do you work with the local government, and other parties that might have been involved, to achieve sustainable development?
Bamboo is some of the fastest growing plants in the world due to a unique rhizome-dependent system that allows them to grow almost 100 feet in five short years. My dad regularly visits China for quality assurance and we only work with suppliers who extract bamboo stalks from sustainable forests. This mature bamboo is native to China, which has an ideal climate condition for a faster rate of growth compared to most geographic regions. We’ve won a Best Green Products award from Green Living Expo and a Sustainability Award from Greenopia, but we’re always looking to continually improve and do better for both our customers and the environment. We’ve also introduced recycled packaging for our products so that’s another responsible step towards going green.
Do you have a message you want to convey to the policy makers of the natural products industry?
We wish to see our policy makers take a more balanced approach and not overly regulate before the industry has a chance to grow into its true potential to benefit all people.