PLANTING THE SEED
Rosemary Gladstar began a small herbal business to provide supplies for her students at the California School of Herbal Studies. When she moved to Vermont, the company was split into a retail herb shop and a mail order company. The mail order portion was passed on to Rose Madrone, and Mountain Rose Herbs (MRH) was born.
PASSING THE ROSE
Rose enlisted the help of her friend Julie Bailey, a teaching herbalist, wilderness guide, and avid gardener. In 1991, Julie bought the small herbal business and ran MRH out of her California home. She developed and formulated a line of natural products, including teas, face creams, and aroma sprays and oils.
JULIE'S BUDDING VISION
Witnessing the increasing popularity of herbs and the irresponsible harvesting of wild plants, MRH adopted rigorous guidelines for ethical wild harvesting. Julie was passionate about creating an ethical herbal business with friendly service and high-quality goods.
Still home-based, MRH moved to North San Juan, California. The business quickly grew, and the company soon became nationally known by herbalists and natural health stores as the go-to source for high-quality herbs.
Shawn Donnille, a dedicated environmental activist and MRH warehouse worker, was promoted to management. He revolutionized the business, including the creation of its first website. Shawn also instituted a strictly organic policy for all products and obtained organic certification for the company.
A PARTNERSHIP BLOSSOMS
Julie and Shawn became co-owners of MRH, and in 2001 they moved the company to rural Oregon to be closer to its farm operations, wild harvesters, and processors. This move allowed MRH to create a full-time laboratory and quality control department, and its staff expanded to double digits for the first time.
Shawn created the Zero Waste Program in 2007 to reduce, recycle, reuse, and compost all waste materials at the company. In 2009, MRH started the Mountain Rose River Project to help restore local riparian ecosystems and its Alternative Commute Program.
The company relocated to its current (and much larger) Eugene facility, which meets LEED green building standards. MRH also became fair trade certified by IMO’s Fair for Life Program. The first line of herbal extracts debuted, featuring over 100 tinctures made with certified organic alcohol and organically grown or ethically wild-harvested plant material.
As a thank you to the herbal community, we produced and hosted the Rootstalk Festival, which fused herbal education, homesteading skills, and wilderness conservation with live music and storytelling. Drawing 700 teachers and attendees from around the world, the festival raised money to support Cascadia Wildland’s legal battle to save Oregon’s wolves. As a way to extend the enthusiasm of the Rootstalk Festival, we also created the Free Herbalism Project in 2013, an ongoing series of free community events featuring visiting herbalists.
With a continued commitment to finding the most sustainable packaging that also creates less waste at our customers' homes, we unveiled new packaging for our certified organic tea line. Featuring compostable plant cellulose bags with 100% post-consumer waste recycled newspaper boxes, our tea line was now even better for the planet.
2014 – 2016
WORKING GREEN CONTINUED
Since 2005, MRH has sought the most environmentally friendly ways to operate our business. That’s why we became the first Salmon-Safe Certified company in our community in 2014. In 2015, we installed 100 photovoltaic solar panels and an electric vehicle charging station to provide renewable energy for our main facility and its employees. And in 2016, we became the first company in Oregon to achieve a Zero Waste Facility Certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council.
ON NEW GROUND
Shawn and Julie stepped back from day-to-day operations at Mountain Rose Herbs and formed a three-person executive team to lead the company. Chief Operations Officer Jennifer Gerrity, Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Irene Wolansky, and Chief Financial Officer Cameron Stearns now oversaw the inner workings of this bustling organic botanicals supplier.
2016 – 2019
In an effort to provide our customers with the best possible experience, we opened our first brick-and-mortar store in 2016. Mountain Rose Herbs Mercantile, located in the Farmers’ Union Marketplace in downtown Eugene, Oregon, offers free pick-ups of online orders and sells a selection of our most popular products in sizes suited for home use. In 2017, we also began producing our own extracts, elixirs, and syrups as part of an asset acquisition from the small local company Terra Firma Botanicals. MRH was now able to produce Terra Firma’s recipes under the Mountain Rose Herbs label using fresh, sustainably harvested ingredients. We continued to expand our facilities in 2018 with the opening of our new milling facility in West Eugene, giving us full, hands-on control over the milling process for our products for the first time.
2020 Onward—Change is Afoot
Shawn stepped back into an active role as CEO of MRH at the beginning of 2020, just as the first Covid-19 cases were reaching Oregon. Initially, there were no guidelines or mandates for businesses, shipping was impacted, ports were closed; the infrastructure that kept businesses functioning smoothly was crumbling across the nation and abroad. Overseeing MRH during the pandemic was galvanizing for Shawn. “I came back on as the CEO in February, which also coincided with COVID…” he said. “Quite honestly, I have never experienced anything more paramount in my life.” He radically restructured the company and leadership team, putting us on a trajectory of 15-20% growth. In September 2020, after nearly three decades of leadership, Julie was ready to retire and pass on ownership of MRH to her trusted partner. On September 30, 2020, Shawn became the sole owner of MRH. With the company’s success and Shawn’s vision for continued growth opportunities, it was time to consolidate our six separate facilities into one campus in order to streamline operations and communications. In November 2020, MRH purchased the Phoenix Industrial Park in Eugene, giving us 205,000 square feet of operational space and a 12-acre campus that we look forward to developing into green space.