I love Juniper Ridge. Like, almost to the point of obsession. My use of their products is so profuse, that at any given moment, you’re guaranteed to smell at least one of their fragrances wafting through the air in my home, though usually it’s more like two or three. I’ve simply never come across another brand that does what they do as well. The company’s incenses, soaps and room fresheners – all of which are made using sustainable ingredients from in and around the Pacific Northwest – capture the essences of those areas with such accuracy, that they’re basically the next best thing to being there.
Juniper Ridge’s Art Director, and all around super nice guy, Obi Kaufmann, recently took some time out to answer a few questions about the brand through email. Here’s what he had to say.
Well Spent: Give us the Juniper Ridge origin story.
Obi Kaufmann: Hall Newbegin started Juniper Ridge back in 1998. Hall is an avid hiker and backpacker, like we all are here at JR, and he came up with the idea of selling soap, fragranced only with real, live plants from these wild places across the West that we love. In those first days, when Hall was making soap in his basement and using juice presses and blenders to grind up his wildcrafted cedars and sages, it was really all about capturing the fresh, real scent of the plants. Since those days we have introduced essential oil making steam distillation into the process and this has really upped our game – we now mix many plants together to make regionally evocative blends using plants that live near each other in places like Big Sur, Yuba River and the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest.
Tell us about the products.
We are always looking to perfect the transmission of place. These places – the mountains and deserts of the West – are so alive, so beautiful, so intrinsic to the human experience that we believe that, even if you have never been there, our scents can take you there. All of our products, our Trail Crew Soaps, our Backpacker’s Colognes, our Cabin Sprays are designed with that function in mind. Sure, the Trail Crew Soap will get you clean, in fact it is the most natural liquid soap on the planet – made only with organic vegetable oils and the plants themselves – but, you buy the Trail Crew Soap because it is a real experience. There is nothing like this soap on the market.
Tell us about the production / manufacturing.
We have a warehouse in Oakland, California. Not only is it our hometown, but it’s the halfway point between San Diego and Seattle, our territory. We do everything there, from beginning to end. We get the plants from the mountains in a number of ways that all fall under the name Wildcrafting. Wildcrafting means that we don’t farm anything, all of our plants come from wild sources, be it private lands by permission or from public lands by permit. We always gather our plants and tree trimmings in such a way that no harm is done to the plant itself. In fact, they respond to the pruning with new growth. We like to think the plants are happy to see us. We often work with the forest service as well. When they have a fire-trimming, we will take their slash piles and make soap out of them – better than burning them, eh?
Tell us about Juniper Ridge’s social responsibility initiatives.
We are dedicated to protecting Western Wilderness and we demonstrate that by not only donating 10% of our profits to 18 tireless organizations across the West, but also by being actively involved locally in native plant restoration efforts and trail work in the coastal mountains and the Sierra Nevada. You can check out the groups we donate to on our website.
You’ve been at Capsule several seasons in a row now. Are you big fans of menswear?
Yeah, we started attending Capsule about a year ago and it has proven to be a really great community of designers and makers. We support the Made in USA movement and are happy to show with a group that shares our values.
New editions to the Juniper Ridge product line include liquid soaps and colognes. Any other new items / projects you can tell us about?
Every six weeks or so we push out a new seasonal, limited-edition fragrance from the back of our Field Lab Van. This is my favorite project. We have a converted whiskey still in the back of our killer 87 econoline biodiesel van, and we follow the bloom to where the plants are most fragrant and we make aromatic snapshots, right there on site. Past products include Mojave Beard Oil, Tin House Natural Perfume and Elk Meadows Solid Perfume. You have to keep a close eye on the Field Lab page on the JR site and follow us on Instagram to learn about when we launch these products. We tend to only make about a hundred or so of any given Field Lab product, so you have to snatch them up quick – when they are gone, they are gone forever. Our next fragrance will be a Winter Redwood Solid Perfume and it’s launching this week!
What would you say to someone who’s still on the fence about buying from Juniper Ridge?
It isn’t for everybody. We don’t front that it is. There are a lot of people out there who enjoy the fake vanilla / patchouli / lavender scents in the world, and that is fine. Our mission is about redefining and reclaiming what the word “natural” means. To not compromise. And to present the most beautiful scents from what we believe are the most beautiful wild places in the world. Places we know very well and are happy to share.
For price and purchase info, visit Juniper Ridge.