“I feel really lucky I was able to marry my passion and love for plants, and writing, and people.”
When Beverley Gray started her business, over 20 years ago, it began with filling a need for her own family. She was always looking for quality natural remedies for her two small kids, but found there just weren’t many around. Living in the bush on Carcross Road, with a strong knowledge of herbs, she began exploring and experimenting with what was growing right in her own backyard.
Gray quickly realized there were at least 40 plants growing on the land.
Her friends and family began asking for her remedies, which led her to try selling her signature Boreal Balm at the Spruce Bog Craft Sale. It was a huge hit and, just like that, her passion became a business.
When the local health-food store came up for sale on Main Street, Gray saw an opportunity. She took on the stock and the space, and turned it into an herb store. Balancing her business with being a parent, she would bring her kids to the store and they would play while she worked. As the years went on, her children grew and began working at the business.
“It’s been a great journey for the family and for myself personally,” said Gray, who also credits her staff for being “the backbone” of her business and the community for their ongoing support. “The support from the community has been so wonderful and I’m always so grateful for them.”
Gray’s business has evolved and diversified in many ways throughout the years, all while staying true to her original vision and goal of sharing her love and wealth of knowledge, for herbs and plants, with the world.
Gray has grown her business to offer workshops and herb walks, she speaks at gatherings and conferences around the world, has had a show on CBC called “Words on Herbs,” writes for Yukon, North of Ordinary and has written two books, including her award-winning and national bestselling book, The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North.
While the business has evolved in many different—though connected—directions, it has done so organically and in a way that has allowed Gray to bring together her many passions. The workshops and herb walks began because the students showed up.
“People were asking for the teachings,” said Gray. “They wanted to know what I knew and what I was learning. I’m a person … I learn something and I want to share it with everybody.”
This same love of sharing her knowledge led to her books.
“I would hate to leave this planet and not be able to share what I’ve learned in this lifetime—that was the big motivation for writing the book.”
When asked about the most rewarding thing about owning a business, Gray has trouble narrowing it down to just one. She values greatly the impact she is able to have on those that come in contact with her products and offerings—“I love seeing people light up when they find something that’s for them”—and being able to teach others about herbs and remedies that they can then bring into their own lives and families.
“I love when people discover plants, have been walking by them a thousand times and are now harvesting and making their own creams.”
For future and aspiring entrepreneurs, Gray gives the advice to “do what you love and the opportunities will follow.”
Passion is what started Gray in business and what has grown Aroma Borealis, throughout the years, and moved it in so many directions. “I feel really lucky I was able to marry my passion and love for plants, and writing, and people.”