Maia Toll is an author, herbalist and
graduate of David Winston’s Herbal Studies program. Her
interview in 2014 was so interesting we decided to check
back to see what’s new with her.
When we last spoke in 2014 you were getting ready to open a second store in addition to the original location in Philadelphia. Any unexpected challenges? Rewards?
The biggest reward was moving ourselves to Asheville,
NC! We love this town. Within weeks of opening the Asheville
Herbiary people were saying “Wait. You just opened? I could have
sworn you’ve been here a while.” Maybe it’s the vibe of the space we
moved into: in the 1920s it was a compounding pharmacy so the
healing vibe is rooted in.
The other big bonus in opening a shop here in addition
to the Philadelphia store was finding a rich community of both
herbalists and growers. Our staff is full of wisdom and our shelves
are full of what we call “farm-direct” herbs, which we buy directly
from the growers. The Farm Direct herbs are vibrant and full of
life. Customers are shocked at how fresh they taste and quickly
become hooked on our Farm Direct Tulsi and Peppermint.
You just published a book—The Illustrated Herbiary. How did that come about, and how is it being received?
The first person to take a look at the book outside my
publishing circle was Rosemary Gladstar. The review she wrote had me
in tears. And the accolades keep coming. I think people were hungry
for a book which helped them to connect with the spirit of the
plants in a grounded way. Plus people who are not into healing herbs
are finding the book charming and approachable, so I’m hoping it’s a
gateway for these folks to get into herbalism. The biggest surprise
has been that kids are really into it. I had a panicky moment after
one woman posted on Instagram that her four year old has decided The
Illustrated Herbiary is bedtime reading! I quickly checked Ladies
Mantle—which I use for sexual abuse and trauma—to make sure those
references were truly veiled. It was a relief to read through it
with mom-eyes and realize what I wrote was child safe!
The other fun twist is that people are really seeing a
Harry Potter connection. The book got a great review
on mugglenet.com and
Forbes called me a real life Professor Sprout. I think this Harry
Potter link is driving some of the holiday sales. People are already
buying multiple copies! I had a woman at a book signing ask me to
sign ten copies to everyone on her gift list and then, loaded with
her stack of books, she said “I feel like I just did my Hogwart’s
shopping at Diagon Alley!"