Moonrise Herbs – The History
by Irene Lewis, Herbalist & Proprietor
Sisters Sarah and Lisa Hoyt established Moonrise Herbs in 1985. Their vision was to be a resource for high-quality herbs, natural healing products and information on natural medicine. Lisa had been going to the California School for Herbal Studies when Sarah’s daughter Ciel contracted a nasty case of impetigo. Sarah had tried the doctor’s recommendations of antibiotics and an ointment but was not finding them to be effective. At her wits' end, Sarah asked for Lisa’s help. Lisa suggested a poultice of Usnea and Clay to be applied topically several times a day as well as some herbal teas for Ciel to drink. Ciel’s impetigo resolved itself within a week’s time and Sarah was sold on healing with herbs. Although when Sarah went to try and purchase herbs she found it very difficult, our community was in desperate need of an herb store.
So, with little money but a lot of dedication, Sarah and Lisa created Moonrise Herbs. At first, Moonrise Herbs existed in a tiny Victorian House on a side street in Arcata, California. The house was divided in two; half was rented out to massage practitioners and herbal consultants and the other half, which included the kitchen, became the work space where herbal concoctions like salves and oils were made as well as the humble retail space that sold a selection of bulk herbs, inspirational books, music and the locally made herbal products.
Soon after the inception of Moonrise Herbs, Lisa left to pursue an education for the career she currently holds, a holistic physician’s assistant. Sarah staffed the store with volunteers who were willing to work for a dollar an hour in store trade. She was truly inspired by the wonderful support and interest our community had for Moonrise Herbs.
It was very sweet and beautiful, and many people came just to sit and breathe in the serene space.
In 1988, Moonrise Herbs' current logo was create by Joanne Rand, a friend of Sarah’s, a locally known singer and songwriter. The New Moon (signifying the birth of beginnings and ideas) and the plant known as Self-heal (Self Empowerment ) are now seen on t-shirts and sweatshirts all over the world.
As time passed, the store grew in popularity and demand, and Moonrise Herbs outgrew the tiny Victorian house with its sweet little garden. It was a difficult choice to make, but in the store’s best interest, Moonrise Herbs moved in 1996 onto the Plaza in Arcata. Because of its central location, the storefront on the plaza has allowed us to reach out to many more people and practitioners. And thanks to the new location’s size, instructors have been able to utilize our space for classes on herbs, astrology, psychic awareness and other healing modalities.
Irene Lewis entered into Moonrise Herbs as a vendor in 1990. She produced a product line called “Irene’s Dream Simply Herbal.” Moonrise Herbs was very supportive to her and really was inspirational in the growth of her business. At that time Irene lived in the mountains an hour from town. In 1998, she moved closer to Arcata and was longing for more social interactions. Irene was hired by Sarah and worked on the sales floor giving herbal consultations 2 days a week, she also continued running Irene’s Dream, and taught herbal classes. While working at Moonrise Herbs, Irene became increasingly aware of how closely people held Moonrise Herbs to their hearts. The store was like a dear friend, inspiring many, and had become a retreat for several whom entered the store just simply to breathe. Irene also came to realize that Moonrise Herbs was and is highly respected by physicians in our area who regularly send in their patients who are seeking herbal knowledge.
In 2003, after running the store for 18 years, Sarah was ready for a new phase in her life. After 15 years of manufacturing and selling herbal lotions, salves and soaps, I too was ready for a new phase in my life. Sarah and I started discussing how I would purchase the store. In August of 2004, with a lot of help from our dedicated staff, I took on the daily management of Moonrise Herbs. Escrow closed in October of that year and I officially became the new owner.
Thankfully the essence of Moonrise Herbs was kept alive and well. We still carry over 400 organically grown bulk herbs and herbal teas, exquisite pure organic essential oils, the highest quality supplements, herbal reference books, tarot decks as well as crystals and fair trade gifts. Irene also enacted some fabulous additions. You can now purchase organic pure essential oils by the drop at our Scent Your Soul service window to enhance any salve or oil, or make your own personal blend. We had also upgraded our kitchen and we could offer a delicious all-organic soup and salad bar. We created homemade soups and featured locally grown or produced spring greens, mushrooms, olives, tofu, bread and dressings. The greens in our salad were seasonally decorated with edible flowers, creating a vibrant and colorful glow that was a feast for the eyes, body and soul. During the economic recession we had to let go of our kitchen but, the salad bar was so well loved that to this day (2019) we still hear of the found memories our customers have. Today we are expanding our wholesale bulk herbal tea orders as well as our website. Keeping with the times we now email a link to our newsletter and you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
May this beautiful wheel keep spinning, always facing towards the light, as we grow, shift and change, may we never lose sight, of the essence of the beginning and the reason we delight.