We had the good fortune of connecting with Apryl Martinez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Apryl, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
San Diego may not be the setting when we think of a wild, free-range country kid’s childhood, but there are still little places within the county that have remained natural and rural. I had the privilege of calling such a place home. Before my arrival on this earth, my parents moved from Del Mar to a small unincorporated town called Valley Center. As a teen, I was often miffed by that choice, preferring the coastal climate and beaches, unaware of how good I had it and the invaluable lessons country life had given me. I never had to learn how to garden; it was a skill instilled in me from a very young age. Wandering rows of strawberries, getting scratched and pricked by thorny blackberries, and hands sticky from peeling oranges are some of my earliest memories. Acres of land covered in native plants gave me plenty to explore and a lifetime to develop relationships with some remarkable potent plants. One of the things that is so marvelous about southern California is our unique aromatic plants. As a young explorer, crawling through the chaparral, I would return home scented with the sages and artemisias of the foothills. My love for our native plants is deep and soul-moving. Our sense of smell has such a strong connection with memory and emotion. I recognized the power the aromatics of southern California held for me when I moved back to the area after living out of state for several years. I nearly wept to be reunited with plants that shaped the memories of my youth. Making soap and botanical skincare is my way of capturing these moments, the connection with a terrior, and the unique smells and flavors that arise from bio-regional harvesting. As an herbalist, I incorporate my knowledge of each plant’s skin benefits and use the wild plants of our region to boost my products. Riding horses through the shrubs, running with my dogs through coyote trails to granite slabs filled with fairy pools, laying in groves heady with the scent of orange blossoms. These moments created my love affair with a place that has as much charm today as it did when I was a child. A gem nestled and sheltered at the foot of Palomar mountain. All Plum Brilliance products are crafted in Valley Center with local plants, flowers, and tree resins. I spend my time harvesting in the same hills I grew up in. I want to connect my customers with this magical place, What better way to do that than through self-care and aroma?

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The connection to the earth is super important for my own balance and healing; I try to facilitate connection through the products I craft.⁠ I spent many years out of balance, unhappy, stressed, and apathetic. Through Ayurveda and western herbalism, I reconnected with nature. I learned the importance of restoring harmony and equilibrium and how plant allies could help. I remembered what made me feel alive and passionate as a kid and learned how to tap into that place of wonder and joy. ⁠ I decided to ditch the “dirty” and synthetic products. I placed my trust in nature, and I found deep connection and healing. This connection and my desire to share it with others were the catalysts for creating a company that crafts entirely from plants, both wild and organic.⁠

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This question is not as easy to answer as it may have been a year ago. With the restrictions on small businesses and social distancing in effect, my favorite places are mostly spots in nature. Being able to wander in the forest or the hills can make the world seem a little less crazy in a time of major uncertainty. My favorite spots to visit are Palomar Mountain, the state park side has some really beautiful trails. For a day trip and easy hike, Doan pond is lovely. It has parking and is easily accessible. I adore Borrego and heading into the desert. Spring is the perfect time to visit, while the desert plants bloom and before the heat arrives. Palm Canyon is a 2-mile hike that is great for folks of all levels. It will take you into the canyon where you end at the water (depending on the time of year) and palm trees. If you are looking for a little more challenge, Hellhole Canyon in my hometown of Valley Center has some of the most breathtaking views. It is quite a descent into the canyon so be prepared to sweat when you hike out!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Aligning herbalism and botanical skincare wouldn’t have been possible without the great information I have received from educators. Sage Country Herbs helped catapult my journey and taught me the unique benefits of our local plants. Shana Lipner Grover runs a fantastic field apprenticeship engaging in field identification and community relationships. Lots of thanks to her!! Rebecca Altman inspires magic and beauty in my craft, also a local (southern California) herbalist who makes the most delightful concoctions! Big thanks to Su Kraus of Moosa Creek Nursery. This phenomenal native plant nursery has been a source of herbal plants that I use in products and introduces me to new plants that I hadn’t met before.

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