Camp Fire survivor promotes self-care with a botanical line

Mexican Primrose Botanicals owner Leila Rodriguez-Rathbun checks out some primroses in the wild. (Leila Rodriguez-Rathbun/Contribution)

CHICO — Leila Rodriguez-Rathbun helps people feel good in their own skin.

Rodriguez-Rathbun launched a line of botanicals and skin care products that are made with natural ingredients from her garden. She started the line called Mexican Primrose Botanicals as a comfort to her after the Camp Fire when she lost her home. She now lives in Los Molinos with her husband.

A few weeks ago, she presented a product at the Mind Vacation holiday art fair hosted by Chico artist Amber Palmer.

“It was a big success and it felt good to put the brand out there,” Rodriguez-Rathbun said.

Pictured are Leila Rodriguez-Rathbun’s botanicals from her Mexican Primrose Botanicals line. (Leila Rodriguez-Rathbun/Contribution)

She was playing with rose hips from her garden when she first moved to Los Molinos. She then delved into making skin care products from what grows there.

“I gave samples to my family and friends,” she said. “People are starting to ask them. They embraced the magical qualities of plants.

Gardening was something that occupied her mind and body.

“It started as something to fuel my spirits after the campfire,” Rodriguez-Rathbun said. “My husband introduced me to gardening early on. There are so many healing properties in plants and natural remedies.”

She teaches herbalism classes at the Northern California School of Botanical Research in Grass Valley.

“Rose hips have more vitamin C than orange juice,” she said, and “lotions create a barrier that protects your skin over time.”

“Great makeup and skincare is about taking care of your skin from the inside out,” she added. “Preservatives are packed into products you see in pharmacies. I supply beeswax locally.’

Rodriguez-Rathbun says skin care is vital, and she wants her clients to feel and look good.

“It’s part of the ritual. Self-care is also deeply rooted in this. It’s about standing up for yourself and standing in your power. I protect all kinds of people,” she said.

Rodriguez-Rathbun’s favorite product is Calendula Rose Ointment.

“I use it from head to toe,” she said. “It’s so moisturizing. It has a subtle scent that lasts all day.”

Rodriguez-Rathbun and her husband have six acres. She said she now feels part of her community.

“When I moved to Los Molinos, I was still reeling from Camp Fire. I was very lucky to find this house. We introduced the medicinal parts of plants for people to embrace,” she said. “I feel peace playing with plants.

“The previous owners gave us a beautiful canvas to work with,” she noted. “We have flowers everywhere and a herb garden with rosemary and sage. Over time, we approach recipes with the end goal in mind. It’s fun to play around and see how plants transform recipes.”

Her husband gave her the first plant, which was a Christmas cactus

“I planted vegetables and have a garden full of thundering sunflowers,” Rodriguez-Rathbun said. “We started fresh after the fire and grew something beautiful. We have a pond and planted trees. We see the progress and fruits of our labor. This is something special.”

Rodriguez-Rathbun has plans for her line in the future.

“My next venture is to get inspiration and feedback and make what people want. My husband is an artist and has a green thumb. We bounce ideas off each other. It was fun.”

Rodriguez-Rathbun works at a public relations agency as “a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job. It’s very flexible and I work remotely. It’s a great company to work for,” she said.

She is grateful for what she has.

“We honor that time, life before and after the fire,” she said. “We dive in and create this project. My friend pushed me and I’m grateful for that. A friend helped bring the product’s flower logo to life. Everyone involved means so much.”

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