By Shelby Pendowski, Enterprise intern
Sandy Nesky made the herb connection years ago. Now it’s her business.
The Suttons Bay woman, owner of The Herb Connection, recalls a night when her youngest child awoke with a fever. Instead of rushing to a doctor or the cupboard for medication, Nesky started researching and discovering the benefits of herbs.
Nesky was working in day care and a local chiropractor’s office at the time.
“The whole herb business came around when my third child was born,” she recalled. “It was in the winter and she was sick all the time.
“I had taken them (the kids) to the doctor that winter … and had gotten antibiotics and I just wasn’t happy with how my kids reacted when I was giving them drugs.”
Nesky, who was billing customers at night for the chiropractor, decided to expand her knowledge and joined the chiropractor at a seminar.
“I just said ‘I can’t continue doing this, I need to find a different way.’ So she gave me my first little Herb book,” Nesky said.
Nesky opened the Herb Connection to share the healing attributes of herbs with others. Today she is an herb consultant to many community members.
“The people who think I am off the page, I just really don’t have time to try convince them but that took a lot of years to figure out,” Nesky said. “People who come asking questions are my favorite type of people to really try and help.”
The herb industry started growing about 10 years ago, according to Nesky.
“Back in the day people thought I was really kind of strange,” Nesky said. “I was the strange herb lady. Even when my kids were in school, I tended not to rush them to the doctor.
“I pretty much took care of colds and that kind of things with herbal remedies. I know that some of the kids’ friends thought I shouldn’t do that. There were people that just weren’t as open to it back in the day.”
Today she still comes in contact with people who are hesitant about trying herbal remedies, but they are gaining acceptance by the public. Nesky said media coverage has also impacted the industry. Each time herbs are mentioned on shows such as “The Doctors” and “Dr. Oz” she receives a flurry in customers.
“Somebody will come in and ask do have this and I say ‘did you see that on Dr. Oz?’ and they say ‘yup.’” Nesky said. “I am never actually home to see any of these programs, to actually know what is going on, on these programs.”
When not in her office, the consultant continues to research in information on herbs, just in case someone asks about a new herb or a product she might be unfamiliar with.
“For the first six years I got involved in doing this, that is all that I did. I didn’t read anything that didn’t have to do with herbal remedies,” Nesky said. “When somebody comes in and I don’t know what they are talking about then I just start to research and I ask my mentor.”
Her mentor is JoAnne Schneider, owner of The Herb Shop in Traverse City.
“I have known her for a lot of years. She is the one who helped me and kind of led me to the passion of learning more,” Nesky said.
Nesky also gardens, sews and exercises with a co-op group at the Suttons Bay School.
“I think that my path in life has been changed just because I think I am pretty healthy,” she said. “A lot of people my age have drugs that they are taking to control issues but I think that it taught me over the years things not to eat, things to eat … I think that awareness is what has changed my life a lot.”
After years of working in this field, a specific passion ignited for Nesky.
“What my passion would be is to help young mothers because it is a very, very frightening thing to try and naturally help your child. It is just very scary,” Nesky said. “Now I wish, my big wish, would be to help young mothers for them to know that there are some things they have on their shelves that could help them when their baby has that fever in the middle of the night and how they could have the confidence to handle that.”
It is the empowerment of having a choice and being able to single-handedly take care of her children that hooked this consultant. She’s determined to pass that moment on to other members in the community.
“I went to the medicine cabinet and I remember the day I was able to just dump it into the garbage can and knew I didn’t need that anymore.”