I met Nitsa initially through Sun Potion. Nitsa is an artist, an alchemist and independent Creative Director. She introduced me to tea ceremony and her journey from California to Paris, where she moved very recently to follow her heart. Nitsa is such a beautiful soul and i’m really excited to share her story, rituals and LA favorites with you.
Bonne lecture !
I have spent most of my life in California. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to travel around the world and be exposed to different environments and cultures. However, it is only recently when I spent a months living in Paris that I have come to realize how much of a “Californian” I actually am… For example, I have zero hesitation on wearing birkenstocks with rainbow socks to the market… However, it seems this makes most Parisiens cringe? oops!
I was born in a little cabin literally perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur. Our cabin was on the next bend in the road down the PCH from Esalen- an institute where my parents worked and lived - and where I spent the first 5 years of my life.
There was a small organic farm and garden on the property - where the kitchen sourced as many of its ingredients as it could - and meals were served and shared in the “lodge” which is a sort of communal dining space for all the residents and visitors to Esalen. The food was simple yet health-focused - think the OG vegetarian diet of tofu, brewers yeast, braggs, plus whatever the cook / kitchen staff was being inspired by at the moment. There was always a medley of alternatively minded seminarians who came to study and dive into their “self work” - it was an environment humming with philosophy, spirituality, psychology, metaphysics, healing arts, sustainability, and beyond. My daily “bath” was taken in the hot springs pools which were built into the cliffs overlooking the ocean…
Needless to say, it was not the most mainstream childhood!
In fact, as a kid I craved “normalcy” and conventional culture. We all rebel in our own ways… my teenage years consisted of my sneaking diet coke and other forbidden junk food into my bedroom… while my Dad begged me to drink his homemade fresh green juice! The irony!!
In retrospect I can see how all of this influences me today.
I feel that my alternative upbringing has been what has motivated me to create stability and structure in my own life… to prioritize my career, financial sovereignty, etc. However, California definitely still seeps through.
I am now beginning to recognize and cherish all the layers - a reverence for Mother Earth, alternative thinking and living, and I can see how I embody my roots in my daily life. I now can’t wait to return to the California bubble, visit my Dad, nerd outon health hacks, and drink vibrant green juice with him.
You co-created Sun Potion - the first brand making adaptogens easily accessible in the United States. Can you tell us how that journey began and your experience in growing this project into a successful company?
I began working with Sun Potion in 2012 - before many people in the western sphere had even heard of an “adaptogen” and before wellness bloomed into the whole organism it is today. As Creative Director I helped create innovative new ways to communicate about the healing potential of these plants, through design, visuals, social media, and essentially, community. The project was rooted in a desire to spread a genuine love of these plants and be of service, and grew organically from there… It is pretty amazing to see how the marketplace has expanded and these adaptogenic herbs are being shared and celebrated by more and more brands (like Maison Loüno).
Any morning and/or evening rituals which have been part of your journey to help you stay grounded through this early time? Any of them remaining powerful to you today?
I make it a point to prepare a nourishing tonic or snack for myself - no matter how busy I am. This is my daily self-nourishment ritual. I started to document it as #apotionaday on IG and it is rad to see so many people participating in it now.
These days I am particularly drawn to mushrooms - chaga, reishi, lions mane, cordyceps… they feel grounding, protective, and calming. All of which we need in this global quarantine!
4 cantines / cafés you love going to in LA?
Gjusta - classic spot in Venice. Farm to table, simple yet tasty, casual atmosphere, great outdoor garden ambiance
MTN in Venice - seasonal, Californian take on rustic japanese cuisine - I love the seaweed salad made from seaweeds harvested in big sur!
Kismet - middle eastern inspired cuisine with locally sourced ingredients co-owned + operated by two women - super chic environment and amazing natural wines - in east los angeles.
Shima - sushi heaven! sit at the bar!!
Who has had an impact on the way you cook today?
My mother, grandmother, and father - all of whom have shared their love of food and passed down their unique approach to nutrition to me… My extended family, friends, lovers, personal curiosity - I love experimenting with making healthy adaptations to traditional recipes…. ie gluten free adaptogenic pancakes or plant-based bourguignon…. I feel strongly that anything cooked with love and sincerity has the potential to heal and nourish. I love when you can taste the lineage in the food…
What’s your go-to breakfast?
Several rounds of living tea followed by an adaptogenic potion, and maybe some seasonal berries and coconut yogurt. If I am feeling like something more substantial and savory I might go for medicinal mushroom broth, steamed veggies and some protein. I always love a good avocado toast… on some fermented and sprouted rye/seed sourdough. Yum!
Adaptogens & wellness
How did you come across those incredible adaptogen herbs?
In my teens and early 20s I struggled with depression and pretty severe anxiety. Fortunately, my parents were against pharmaceuticals so I had to look to natural medicine to heal my nervous system.
At one point I had developed a lot of anxiety around getting sick, and this flamed up when I was preparing for a trip to Asia. I was paralyzed with fear. My mother brought me to a local health food store and we asked the director of the supplement section (his name was MATT - hello and thank you Matt!!) for recommendations for immunity, anxiety, and overall nutrition… He got me on reishi, skullcap tincture, and chlorella - and I have been taking all three ever since.
That was a pivotal moment in my health journey. After a week of incorporating these three ingredients into my diet I noticed a shift in my mood, energy levels and overall well being. I am inspired by the fact these simply prepared plants, mushrooms and algae (that have been around for centuries) can be such powerful healers.
I also just love to geek out on traditional diets and medicinal foods - so that has informed a lot of my research and exploration!
What is your preferred way of incorporating herbs into your daily life?
With tonics, potions, broths, and high vibe desserts!
Would you share a recipe of how you like to make your Magic Cocoa?
12 oz homemade sprouted cashew macadamia milk
2 tsp magic cocoa
1 tsp raw wildflower honey
4 oz hot water (optional)
>> blend ingredients in a high speed blender, add hot water if you want to serve it warm. In Joy!
Do you have routines or exercises that help you cope with stress?
>> yes, I sit for tea first thing every morning - no matter how busy or where I am - I always give myself a moment to pour a few rounds of tea and meditate on my gratitude for the day.
Do you repeat mantras / sentences when times get a little rough?
Yes. there have been various mantras that I find strength in, however the simplest and yet most organic one that has been coming through lately is the phrase “ I choose love” … I also love to listen to music with alpha/ beta waves and binaural beats , this album in particularly soothing!
Can you tell us about a book or movie that has helped you through your personal development journey and that you would recommend?
>> SALT - a book of poems by Nayyirah Waheed - the most delicate, vulnerable, human yet transcendent poems.
Nitsa was photographed in Paris by Louise Skadhauge.
Follow us on Instagram @maisonlouno