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Exploring Life & Business with Sean Rose of STROB Apothecary, Tenderhearted Integrative Wellness Services, & Hue Cafe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sean Rose.

Hi Sean, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I’ve always had a relationship with plants. I often talk about the gigantic weeping willow I grew up with in the Greenbrier River valley in West Virginia. I used to spend my afternoons under its drooping branches, and I felt protected and safe there.

Most of us have childhood memories of blowing dandelion seeds into the air, making a wish as we watch the wind carry them away. Chamomile tea was my go-to drink when I had an upset tummy or needed some help falling asleep. My mother would put tea tree oil into my shampoo when I had dandruff.

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I would argue I’m still refining and learning more and more about that every day. I’ve worked in call centers, and retail taught English abroad, worked retail again, and eventually in all of that found within myself an intense need to begin to work with plants.

I got myself into a local grocery chain and worked my way into the produce department, and that’s where I started learning about plants’ ability to move humans toward a state of better health. I got cross-trained in the wellness department and learned a bit more about medicinal herbs and other supplements.

After that, I went to work at a medical cannabis dispensary, where I truly had my first mind-opening experience.

I realized that cannabis shared many chemical compounds with other plants that influenced its medicinal effects (terpenes, flavonoids, etc.), and that these effects were simply amplified or more easily felt by the presence of THC and CBD.

That realization is what marked my foray into clinical herbal medicine. If there were other plants that had these compounds that provided the medicinal effects of cannabis, then these other plants must be medicinal, as well!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It hasn’t been an entirely smooth road, and I still manage to hit bumps every day as I’m learning to administer a clinical practice and be an effective entrepreneur.

At STROB Apothecary, which I founded with four other close friends, we have been working for a year and a half now with no pay to provide affordable access to herbal remedies, aromatherapies, and crystals to our community. We founded our business in October of 2020, in the midst of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, during an exceptional time of political strife and upheaval.

We’ve worked hard in this time to set up programs to support people who can’t afford access to either conventional or complementary treatments, and we even set up a form on our website that allows people to request a custom-formulated herb blend to fit their specific health needs and have it shipped directly to them.

As a team and family, we have encountered numerous challenges, especially in the last year, where each of us suffered deaths in the family, sicknesses, surgeries, and so on. With no employees, we’ve covered all these understandably missed work days ourselves, and supported each other through the intense emotional and physical difficulties all the while.

I graduated from my clinical herbal medicine master’s program in August of last year, so I’ve only had since then to begin building my clinical practice. In that time, I’ve worked with several clients and only a couple of them at my full fee. I often work with people who can’t afford my full fee on a sliding scale or pro-bono basis, but that doesn’t help pay my bills or student loans.

I do this work because I feel a calling to do it, not for the pay, but because I have to consistently scrounge and save to make my own ends meet. I would say most of my bumps have been financial in nature as I’m only in my first few years of business. Despite this, I always find my support somewhere.

But it would help me to serve my clients better if I could also support myself financially without always relying on the goodwill of others.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I do a lot of different stuff!

I currently co-own and operate STROB Apothecary in Crofton, MD where we provide a diverse selection of medicinal herbs, aromatherapy blends, and crystals. We feel that what sets STROB apart is our dedication to one-on-one, custom service, as well as our delicious tea blends we spend months perfecting before releasing to the public. We also offer some of the best prices on crystals in our area.

The best part is, that we are able to ship the vast majority of our products directly to customers who cannot make it to Crofton, MD to come shopping during our limited hours. Personally, I’m most proud of our Heart-Warming Chai Spice tea blend, one that I formulated myself. It was formulated to aid with grief in the trying times we’re in, but it also just makes a lovely caffeine-free herbal chai tea.

My clinical practice is called Tenderhearted Integrative Wellness Services, which is a recent transition. I’ve moved from being the sole clinician in my practice to hiring other practitioners to provide more well-rounded complementary and integrative care for clients. At this moment, we offer clinical herbal therapy, Human Design consultation, and crystal healing/reiki services.

As my practice grows and I find more interested practitioners, our services will grow in kind. I’m very proud of this transition I’m making, as my dream for Tenderhearted has always been that it becomes a central hub and resource for people who need support in addition to their regular conventional medical care. We are set apart by our dedication to service.

I am currently working on building our new website, which will feature an entire page detailing our sliding scale and pro-bono policies, and I encourage my clinicians to work with these cases at their discretion and as their own financial situation allows.

I also serve at Hue Cafe and Apothecary, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to provide quick herbal services to people in and around Baltimore County. Hue Cafe is located in Owings Mills and is owned and operated by a husband and wife team of Baltimore natives, Aaron and Ejama McNeill.

From the apothecary desk there, I distribute herbal tea blends and other herbal products to people wanting to support their health. While these are more quick fixes, not to the degree of detail and depth that we can get to within the clinical environment, it works great for your everyday, common complaint such as a dry cough or cold.

If you’ve been dealing with a more chronic or long-term complaint, the clinical environment will always serve you better than a quick one-off tea blend.

We’d love to hear what you think about risk-taking?
I certainly was not a risk-taker earlier in my life.

For a long time, as my own mental health suffered, I often chose the more comfortable route of sitting in my poor health, either not knowing how to change it or just not wanting to put the effort in to change things. That being said, some comfort with risk-taking is an absolutely necessary skill to develop as a business owner/entrepreneur.

I think there was something about the COVID-19 pandemic that shook me out of my fear. When it first started, I remember driving into work every day on completely empty roads, noticing the deep pain and tightness in my chest. I developed pretty severe anxiety for those first few months.

No one knew what was going on or how this thing spread. No one really knew how to fight it. I became fearful of regular, everyday people that would come to the shop. I erected barriers to keep them out of the store and set up systems to encourage customers to pick up their orders without any contact.

Now, many readers may not have an intimate understanding of herbalism, but there’s something about barricading yourself from people that feels antithetical to the mission of the herbalist.

At some point, while driving one day, I noticed the pain and tightness in my chest had subsided. Suddenly, the fear that I had my entire life, the fear that had taken root in my lungs and heart and grown through all the scary changes happening in the world, just dissipated. I was over it.

Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t ever feel fearful, especially when it comes to taking big risks for my business. What I can say is that I’ve developed a different relationship with it. Rather than letting fear control my life and my decisions, I try to let it inform my life and decisions instead. In this way, fear changes from this cage you’re trapped in, transforming into a friend that can help nourish your skills of discernment.

When we can use our fears to discern the correct decision, rather than let that fear dictate what we do or don’t do, then we can become more comfortable taking risks. Taking risks will always come with some discomfort as you try to shake up the way you’ve always done things.

There is this thing called the comfort zone where you can choose to stay if you want, but you’ll never learn anything new or different. Feeling a little bit of discomfort as you move through the world helps you know that you’re learning and growing.

Pricing:

  • Clinical Herbal Therapy Intake – 90 min @ $175
  • Clinical Herbal Therapy Returning – 45 min @ $100
  • Sliding scale available upon request at sean@tenderhearted.love

Contact Info:

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