When Kathleen Duffy founded Herbarium in 1978, she'd never worked in a shop before. Luckily, a tight-knit network of friends and family were on hand to support her. An aunt donated a cash register, and a cousin with retail experience taught her to use it. After Kathleen learned from trial and error that 5 pounds of herbs could fill a small container or an entire bathtub, depending on the plant, friends begged her to buy a calculator to use while ordering supplies. Eventually, even her customers pitched in, offering everything from suggestions for organizing the store to calligraphy labels for the bulk herbs.
As her business took off, Kathleen—a former critical-care nurse—became more and more curious about how herbal treatments worked in the body. She began studying constantly, testing out new cures on herself and her family, and taking classes everywhere from the Gaia Institute to Harvard Medical School. In 1990, she turned over the shop to her daughter Andrea to focus on her studies full time, earning her certification as a clinical aromatherapist in 1999.
Today, Kathleen still takes time out of her hospital-teaching schedule to personally train all of the staff members at Herbarium. Under Andrea's attentive eye, these herbal gurus guide customers through shelves stocked with aromatherapy products, potpourri, bath salts, and glycerin soap as well as natural remedies.