Sierra Goldstein is a student in the Bachelor of Science in Integrative Health Sciences Program. At age 14 she began to formulate her own products and is the founder of H2a Botanicals, a luxury skincare and wellness brand that she and her mother run.
Growing up, Sierra was surrounded by plants in her mom’s garden. “If I got a bee sting, she would chew on plantain and put it on the bee sting and things like that. I just sort of grew up knowing that plants were medicine. It wasn’t really until I was around friends or other people that I realized that wasn’t common knowledge,” she says.
When she was younger, Sierra enjoyed collecting antique perfume bottles and making perfume with rose petals from the garden. Her love for formulating products really took off when she received a DIY bath bomb kit as a holiday gift. “I just loved combining ingredients and always had a science affinity. It was just kind of a way to combine my love for nature with my love for science,” she says.
Choosing Natural Health
Sierra originally wanted to become a doctor, but later realized that natural medicine and the beauty industry were more what she was drawn toward. After starting a college biomedical science program, she found herself wishing that the program contained more information about natural health.
She did some research and found that the ACHS Natural Products Manufacturing certificate lined up with her goals. Although she originally planned to return to her biomedical science program after a few semesters off, Sierra ended up loving ACHS. “I loved the online learning, it was really good for me to be able to balance with running a business. Then I decided to take the full step to doing the BS in Integrative Health,” she says. Once she completes the Bachelor’s program, she will be continuing with the MBA program at ACHS.
In high school, Sierra created a self-directed learning program and shadowed with an herbalist. When the herbalist retired with no children, she passed on her original recipes to Sierra.
“My mom jokes that I was 14 at the time so she got roped in because I couldn’t drive myself,” Sierra says. Now, together they run H2a Botanicals. “She’s definitely my best friend and between the two of our brains it’s fun because she kind of has that branding aesthetic piece and I have what’s in the bottle piece,” she says. They have been creating the original products since 2014 and rebranded to H2a Botanicals in 2018.
Sierra’s favorite product: Rosehip & Saffron Emerald Facial Serum
“My personal favorite product is our emerald serum with rosehip and saffron,” Sierra says. “That one took a couple of years and it actually has an emerald in every bottle. It’s a 12-week infusion and is very labor-intensive. The saffron oil isn’t usually used in skincare, but it’s just this amazing antioxidative oil that holds the ingredients really well.”
When she backpacked through Nepal, Sierra says that this serum is the one thing she had to take with her because she couldn’t go without it. Another popular product is Warrior Oil, which is good for sore muscles, aches, and pains.
Sierra is most inspired to come up with new ideas for her business when she is around plants: “I love to travel and get around plants and new healing modalities and immerse in what the traditional uses of the plant are from an indigenous perspective. And then take and honor that and weave it into what’s the science, what are the constituents, and what skincare products would work best based on what the plant does naturally.”
You may have noticed that Sierra’s favorite facial serum is charged with emeralds. Why incorporate crystals into skincare products? Sierra explains, “It kind of came about from my mom. She one day was like `Hey, we should put crystals in the products!’” Before moving forward with the idea, Sierra did some research and testing.
“When I started reaching into it, crystals are known to have metaphysical benefits; the way they change the ions in the air can affect mood. So I thought if they’re putting out energy in the air, could that be captured by a liquid?” Sierra says. H2a Botanicals did some testing with a third-party lab. They made some serums that had the emerald in them compared to when it didn’t and sent them to a lab to have them track the energy on a spectrometer and look at the active level of the ingredients.
“It actually increased the activity of the ingredients,” Sierra says. “I was like okay, that makes it more bioavailable and it has a benefit for the skin while also capturing that lifestyle aspect of incorporating crystals to do internal healing.”
Pictured: Raw emerald stones
Micro Product Lines
H2a Botanicals is in the process of developing its first micro line of products. “We are in the process of working with some land and indigenous cultures down in Costa Rica to develop a line,” Sierra says. “Our goal is to create micro lines and microeconomic models in different places with local ingredients and local artists. Because we are intentional and everything is handmade, we can’t scale into Target (not that we necessarily want to), so we are creatively thinking about how we can grow the business while maintaining our values and that’s the process we came up with.”
Siera’s favorite part of her job is that it acts as a creative outlet. “I’m a very analytical black and white person and never really considered myself an artist or creative, but with product development, it’s my outlet to create and to kind of express that part of my brain that I don’t really get tapped into on a daily basis,” she says.
She also loves the fact that she can work in a business that helps people feel better through skincare while also helping the planet. H2a Botanicals is currently in the process of applying to become a Certified B Corporation. “It’ll probably take another year or so to really get to the actual status but we are making waves,” Sierra says.
Pictured: Sierra and her mother, Heather
Sierra says that starting a business isn’t for the faint of heart, and it helps to get clear on your vision and values before starting. Her other piece of advice is to trust yourself and your abilities. “That’s something I deal with every day,” she says. “Like how do I know what I’m doing? Who am I to do this? But no one knows what they’re doing. I talked to those who I would consider big business people and they were like `I don’t know what I’m doing, but I figure it out and ask for help when I need it.’”
In 2020, the pandemic offered the opportunity to look into the bigger picture of her business, which is something that Sierra recommends every business owner do. “At the beginning before the pandemic we did a lot of selling to high-end spas and those were shut down for a long time so we kind of had to come back to the table and look at our business models. I actually think it was a really good thing. We were able to kind of come together as a team and work on some of those bigger visions since we weren’t stuck in the business so much,” she says.
By Gillian Turner, Social Media & PR Specialist
Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the social media & PR specialist for the American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
About American College of Healthcare Sciences
American College founded in 1978, is a fully online accredited institute of higher education specializing in holistic health. Based in Portland, OR; our goal is to make research-driven and science-based holistic health education taught by industry-leading experts accessible to anyone anywhere while still giving students a hands-on experiential learning experience like a traditional college and a strong sense of community, school pride and student bond.
This commitment to our students and graduates reflects in our current survey results that reflect 98% of our students would recommend ACHS to a friend or family member.
We believe education is the most powerful tool for changing an individual and the world around us.
When a person enrolls as ACHS, it is vitally important that they graduate with tools they need to forge their own holistic and sustainable missions, build up their communities confidently and changing the face of healthcare with knowledge.