"I live in the Hudson Valley with my husband, two kids, two dogs and cat. Nature is my main source of inspiration and living in the country on a river by the mountains, I really found my place and my sanctuary. There is a bald eagle nest in our yard and we see them soaring everyday, it’s so majestic. I love to hike and being outside in Nature is something I do every day and brings me grounding, connection and joy.
I started Captain Blankenship when I was living in the Bay Area and working as a curator. Both paths were guided by my passion for and background in herbalism and fine art. Ever since I was a child, I have loved learning about plants and getting to make potions and medicines from them, which continues to be an integral part of my life and my work at Captain Blankenship. Every spring, I love to forage for stinging nettles for teas and soups, fir tips for wellness syrup and wild violets for face steams and toners. I love getting to steep my children in the wonder of Nature and teach them to love and respect this Earth.
I am also an author and I really enjoy sharing my knowledge and learning about working with natural ingredients. I published my first book in 2019 called Wild Beauty (2019) that is a holistic guide to plant-based beauty. It includes 45 DIY recipes for natural perfumes, skincare, bodycare, hair care as well as teas and tonics. I just turned in the manuscript for my second book that is a collaboration with a friend. This book is a collection of recipes and crafts for living in deep connection to Nature and the seasons, which will be coming out in 2023."
What was your inspiration when initially launching Captain Blankenship?
"I have a lifelong sensitivity to synthetic fragrance that I developed as a child from mixing my mom’s perfumes together to form my own signature scents. This penchant for alchemy changed my life as I steered clear of anything scented unless it was burying my nose in a lilac or relishing the scents of Nature, until I discovered essential oils and the world of natural perfumery in my 20s. I studied with the incredible natural perfumer, teacher and author Mandy Aftel, which opened my nose to the invisible but powerful palette of botanical materials and their rich history. If you are ever in the Bay Area, I highly recommend visiting her museum, Aftel Archive of Curious Scents. When I started Captain Blankenship in 2009, the mission of the company was to create plant and mineral based products using organic ingredients with lush and experiential essential oil based scents housed in sustainable packaging. Our motto for the company is “Beauty Wild with Nature” and with all of our products I wanted to invoke and celebrate the intelligence of Nature and how incredibly effective and beneficial plant and mineral based ingredients are for our skin, body, hair and spirit. At that time, there were so few clean indie beauty brands out there and it is so incredible to see the growth of the market in the past decade. While I have formulated perfumes, skincare, body care and hair care for the company over the past decade the brand is best known for our low maintenance and effortless haircare products that enhance and work with your hair’s natural beauty."
What are some of the hero ingredients featured in the Captain Blankenship line?
"We try to direct source as many ingredients as we can from farmers and cooperatives who use regenerative, organic agriculture. We use a Nilotica shea butter that we source from a woman’s cooperative in Uganda that gives our Conditioner it’s delightfully creamy and deeply nourishing character. Our organic aloe vera, which is the number one ingredient in our Shampoo, Conditioner and is also in our Sea Salt Spray is sourced from a farm in California and hydrates, cleanses and adds beautiful shine to hair. We also use a blend of five organic seaweed extracts sourced from the cold waters of Maine in all our current products."
Captain Blankenship is deeply committed to sustainability, can you share why this was important to the brand?
"From the beginning, Captain Blankenship has always been committed to the sustainability of ingredients, our packaging and all aspects our operation. As we have grown, this has only been more critical to our mission. We became a B Corp in 2018 and part of 1% for the Planet, meaning we donate at least 1% of our revenue annually to environmental nonprofits. We also recently joined the B Beauty Coalition, which is a group of over 40 B Corp beauty brands worldwide committed to transforming the sustainability of the beauty industry. We also just received our MadeSafe certification meaning that our ingredients and sources were vetted and approved for safety to human health and the ecosystem. This spring, we relaunched with new packaging to use infinitely recyclable aluminum bottles after doing a study with the Rochester Institute of Technology to determine the most current sustainable packaging options. The integrity of our company and it’s impact on people and planet inform everything that we do at Captain Blankenship."
Can you tell us more about the name ‘Captain Blankenship’ and what it means to you?
"My husband’s last name is Blankenship and when I was getting married a friend joked that I was going to be the captain of the Blankenship. When I started the company that was the only name I considered. It’s quirky and whimsical but I think it really it characterizes the adventurous spirit and playfulness of the business."
Are you planning to launch any new products in the near future? If so, can you share any details?
"We have a lot of new hair care products in the works and will hopefully be bringing back some of our beloved body care products down the line as well. Our dry shampoo, dark dry shampoo, bulk shampoo and conditioner and gold sea salt spray will all be arriving later this spring. We are also working on a couple exciting new hair care products to launch later this year!"
What is your personal favorite Captain Blankenship product?
"I love the ritual of using them all, but I’m still very devoted to my first born. The Sea Salt Spray was the first hair care product I formulated for the brand over a decade ago and I still love it as much now as I did when I first created it. I love how it effortlessly adds texture and waves to hair without drying it out thanks to the organic aloe vera and blend of five organic seaweed extracts. The scent reminds me of wild beach roses and ocean wind with organic rose geranium and palmarosa essential oils. It truly is beach hair in a bottle. I also am so in love with the new aluminum bottle for this product that captures the color of cobalt glass that we used previously and has beautiful gold ink."
Can you share any pro-tips for how to use your favorite Captain Blankenship (or any of the products within the line!) product?
"For wild and effortless hair, I love to spray the Sea Salt Spray on wet or dry hair scrunch and style and then put a few pumps of the Hair & Scalp Serum on the ends of my hair and use it to smooth any frizz or flyaways. The ritual of using these two products together is something I look forward to, and the scents really bring a lot of joy to my hair and my day. I also love to spray the Sea Salt Spray throughout my hair and then braid it and sleep on it for extra big waves in the morning."
What are your favorite non-Captain Blankenship products or brands at AILLEA?
"I love so many of the brands at AILLEA and count so many of the founders as friends. A few staples that I have been using for many years are Suntegrity 5 in 1 Moisturizing Tinted Sunscreen as well as RMS Uncoverup and Magic Luminizer. I also am a huge fan of Ursa Major, Josh Rosebrook and Smoke Perfumes products."