Ben Clark

About the founder of American Wilderness Botanicals, LLC

 

I was born and raised in the town of Jackson, Wyoming in the beautiful valley of Jackson Hole.   My father’s family has been in the valley since my great grandparents settled the old Elk Ranch (now part of Grand Teton National Park) in the late 19th Century. My mother awakened my love for the beautiful botanicals of the valley when I was a child.  She taught me the common names of many of the plants and trees that grow wild here.  When we went on horseback rides she would quiz me on the common names of the wonderful flora that seemingly grew everywhere we went.  I began to notice the smells of many of these plants and could Identify them even if I were hiking in the dark.  Every botanical has it’s own special and unique scent and energy.

When I left the valley in the late 1980’s and lived in Southern California and later lived in New York City I longed for and missed my home.  Every time I would come home for a visit it felt as though the trees and plants were welcoming me home.  I always have felt at home with them.  After finishing my degree at New York University I moved to Utah and it was there during the late 1990’s that I began my journey in the healing arts at the Utah College of Massage Therapy.  I studied and experienced a plethora of various massage modalities and studied anatomy and physiology with a medical student at the University of Utah.

When I returned to Jackson Hole in 1999 I fell in love with the spa industry.  I was hired as the director at an amazing spa at a ranch in the northern part of the valley where guests from all over the world would gather to enjoy the beauty and outdoors of Grand Teton National Park and the Jackson Hole valley.  It was during this time that I was the spa director that I took careful notice as to all ingredients of any products that the spa therapists used on our clients.  I also had the great opportunity to be taught by Elizabeth Van Buren about the amazing world and use of essential oils in the spa industry.  Elizabeth opened the door to a journey I began in 2000 that led me to become an alchemist in the world of botanical distillation.  I remember asking the pertinent questions about product purity and I began to understand that synthetic preservatives and additives were not only offensive to the pure botanical chemistry but are also not needed if products are used and cared for properly.

One day while working with Elizabeth and while looking westward out of the spa window at the grandeur of the Grand Teton Mountains, the thought occurred to me that I might somehow be able to use the native botanicals found in the valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Most of the botanicals used in high end spa’s found in various formula’s for facials, body wraps, body care, hair care, etc. contain botanicals native to areas other than North America.  The vast majority of them (such as Rosemary, Salvia Sage, Frankincense, Sandalwood and others) are from the Mediterranean, the Middle East, India and Australia.  It is rare to ever see a native North American botanical used in any personal care products or in the spa industry.  From the time I spent as a spa director forward I have educated myself about the use of native botanicals.  Through this journey I have met some of the most wonderful people including some of the founding mother’s of an amazing native botanical herbal company now called Wind River Herbs (Windriverherbs.com).

In 2002 through the support of the Wyoming Small Business Council myself along with two other individuals established a business we named Star Valley Botanicals, LLC named for a valley near Jackson Hole.  Our company received an award from the Wyoming Small Business Council and several voices of approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through whom we applied for a large government grant to begin our project of making products sourcing wildcrafted botanicals locally.   Sadly the other two members of our company made the difficult choice of moving away from the valley to be closer to their children and grand children.  I took the knowledge and education I had received from building this business and looked forward to starting my own company.  My dream was realized seven years later when I founded American Wilderness Botanicals, LLC.  I have been doing business in Jackson Hole, Wyoming along with selling to customers as far away as Norway.

In 2011 I studied under the wonderful mentorship of Anne Barker Harman whom is one of the few top artisan distillers of hydrosols and essential oils using handmade copper Alembic stills in the United States.  In 2013 American Wilderness Botanicals, LLC purchased two beautiful Copper Alembic stills, which we use on a regular basis throughout the harvest season from May through October.

American Wilderness Botanicals, LLC has some of the purest and most potent hydrosols and essential oils in the business.  Virtually all of our hydrosols and essential oils are wild harvested (wildcrafted) in Wyoming and the vast majority are harvest in Jackson Hole.  I regularly have random samples of hydrosols tested at the Sagescript Institute in Longmont, Colorado.  We make sure our customers are satisfied in knowing that they are getting pure hydrosols that microbe and fungus free.  This is why we ask that our customers do not open the atomizers (sprayers) that are screwed onto the bottles as this can introduce microbes and fungus to the botanical waters  in the bottle.  We use pure grain alcohol to sterilize the containers, atomizers and virtually all containers and passageways that the hydrosol touches in the still during the distillation process and the glass funnel and into the ½ gallon bottles where the hydrosols are stored.  Our essential oils and hydrosols are unadulterated without any chemical preservatives or additives.  No exceptions and no compromises.

American Wilderness Botanicals, LLC plans on expanding our product line to include beeswax candles from Wyoming beehives with pure essential oils added to the wax like Sagebrush and co-distillates like Sagebrush & Lodgepole Pine and Sagebrush & Rocky Mountain Juniper.  We also plan on bringing you some wonderful incense sticks, which will include essential oils from locally wildcrafted botanicals like Big Basin Sagebrush, Wyoming Sagebrush and Wild Goldenrod. According to the foremost Rocky Mountain botanists (Dr. Noel H. Holmgren and Dr. Patricia Holmgren researchers and publishers of the multi-volume Intermountain Flora: Vascular Plants of the Intermountain West) there are over 4,000 species of botanicals in the Rocky Mountain region.  Obviously we cannot use every one of these plants as some are endangered; however, we have a large source of plant species to choose from and we are excited to bring many of them to you for your wellness and enjoyment.

This is just the beginning of a wonderful journey with you, our customers on our new website and web store.  We look forward to serving you and giving you as much information about our company, our products and especially about the Rocky Mountain botanicals we wildcraft and distill to bring you, our customers some of the finest and unique products in North America.