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Meet Myra Marie Benoist of TAINO Botanicals in Point Loma

Today we’d like to introduce you to Myra Marie Benoist.

Myra, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I had botched back surgery five years ago that left me with severe nerve damage on one side of my body. It completely changed my life! I was in constant pain, couldn’t sit or stand for more than 15 minutes at a time, and had limited mobility. I was devastated! I mean this was my new life and I couldn’t do anything I loved! I had to leave a job I loved at a local non-profit organization, couldn’t help my husband with the plumbing company we started the year before, and I couldn’t even walk my doggy. Forget about any intimacy or family outings. I just couldn’t see a future I could look forward to.

Anyone that has gone through a major debilitating medical condition can probably understand how it changes you: your outlook on life is bleak; the pain you deal with every day reduces your quality of life to zero; your plans for the future are gone and now your self-esteem is non-existent. It affects everything and everyone around you. It’s pretty soul wrenching. The only thing that saved me was my grandchildren. Their visits brightened my day and gave me a reason to keep going.

A year and a half after my surgery and taking prescription medicines that did nothing to address my condition, I decided to take things into my own hands. I always believed in plant medicine but didn’t believe I knew enough, so I signed up at a local herb school to learn more. Unfortunately, sitting in a classroom for two hours once a week, was still too much for my condition. Thankfully, a friend turned me onto The Herbal Academy, an online herb school that I can do from my bed and at my own pace. It was the best decision of my life.

Eighteen months after I started my training, I was able to create both topical and internal remedies to address the root causes of my pain, and finally, get off prescription medications. While I will never be at 100%, my quality of life has greatly improved over the last five years. I am now a certified herbalist and a clinical-herbalist-in-training.

Now that my physical healing was being addressed, I decided it was time to address my emotional and spiritual needs. I began pampering myself again. When I found that I could make my skin care products using only botanical ingredients, I was very excited! Through trial and error, I learned what worked and what didn’t work for skin care. Then in 2019, I decided to share my passion for botanical skincare and TAINO Botanicals made its debut. With the physical help and support of my husband, sister, and children, TAINO Botanicals went to market!

This past summer I opened myself to officiating weddings again. I conducted a wedding in Maine and a handfasting in Missouri. It was such a magical ten days to be enveloped in so much love and nature. It was truly revitalizing to the soul.

My life is in balance now and I have new hope for the future. I have learned that everything happens for a reason. The horrible results of the back surgery gave me the time I needed to formally study plant medicine, which in turn birthed TAINO Botanicals and brought balance and hope back into my life. It may take some time to find a silver lining in a particularly hard situation, but it always shows itself at some point. I AM GRATEFUL.

Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely was not a smooth road. While my medical condition has greatly improved since I started using topical and internal herbal remedies, the biggest challenge for me is still my physical capabilities. I’m very blessed that I have physical help for all parts of my business!

Like with many other start-up businesses, money can be an issue. I expect that the first two to three years will not be very profitable as we build trust with our target audience. For people to love our products as much as we do, they first have to try it. That is why the markets are so important to us. I am grateful to Jessica Tufts at Staples in Point Loma for creating community events to support local small businesses, such as TAINO Botanicals. It was a great way to be introduced to marketing events!

Thankfully, my husband is an excellent plumbing contractor so our company, BENOIST Drains & Plumbing, as well as my CFO and sister, both help with some of the expenses.

Tell us more about the business.
My passion and greatest pleasure is the art and science of creating plant medicines. I LOVE creating tinctures, syrups, herbal oils, and topical remedies. When I found that I could make my skin care products using only botanical ingredients, it took my topical formulation to another level. Through trial and error, I learned what worked and what didn’t work for skin care. To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about body butter the first time I used it. It was different than using lotions because body butter doesn’t contain water as lotion does, so I wasn’t used to the oily feel. Then after tweaking the recipe to cut down on the oily feel and using it for a day or two, I fell in love! I haven’t used lotion since!

As an herbalist, I’ve learned about the different healing properties of plants and how to incorporate them into my products. Using various methods of extraction, I’m able to create strong healing herbal oils to meet the goals of each of my skin and hair care lines. Starting TAINO Botanicals was a great opportunity to utilize my love of being creative and my passion for the sciences and plants to create all-natural skin and hair care products, free of chemicals. Since skin care is not a one-size-fits-all, each of our skin care lines is formulated with a set goal in mind.

What I am most proud of is keeping true to our mission of remaining chemical-free, using organic ingredients, and being all natural. As our products expand to include water-based products, we will use plant-derived preservatives instead of more common chemical preservatives.

I am also proud to be a member of Herbalist Without Borders, an organization that offers Free People’s Clinic, Disaster Relief, Community & Children’s Gardens, Medicinal Seed Saving, and Training projects all over the world. TAINO Botanicals donates 10% of our net profits to HWB Puerto Rico. I am also a Student Member with the American Herbalist Guild.

Is there a specific memory from when you were younger that you really miss?
I have so many, which to choose from! Many of my happy childhood memories surround family events. I grew up with many of my cousins, so our parents were always in each other’s homes, gathering at the local park for BBQ’s, or trips to Coney Island amusement park in NYC, or crocheting with my creative aunts.

Since a majority of my family is still back in New York City, I don’t see them very often now that I live in San Diego. I think that’s what I miss most from when I was younger.

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