Health food store aims to make up for lost time
When Earlena Ingham and niece Kaurie Daniels took over space in Hamilton in February they thought their new health food store would be open within the month.
They did not anticipate all the renovation needed, plumbing, electricity, flooring, and they certainly did not expect the Covid-19 pandemic to shut Bermuda down.
But nearly eight months later, Natural Mystic Hub at 56 Reid Street is open for business.
“We only put out one flyer,” Ms Daniels said. “But when we opened two weeks ago, there was a line out the door.”
Natural Mystic Hub offers everything from natural remedies, hemp products, herbal teas, and herbs to a dispenser for nuts and seeds so you can take just the amount you want.
A big draw is plant based soup, salad, fresh bread and smoothie bar.
The business is run by Siena Solutions Limited, owned by Ms Ingham.
Ms Daniels and Ms Ingham have always been close.
“I can remember going to her house when I was little,” Ms Daniels said. “I always knew there wouldn't be any snacks unless it was peanut butter and jelly on some seedy bread and brightly coloured chips that didn't leave any grease on your napkin.”
Ms Ingham has veered between vegetarian and vegan since she was 13.
Ms Daniels is plant-based meaning she focuses on foods primarily from plants and steers away from processed foods.
She made the switch four years ago when her daughter, Nia, was born.
Concerned about what she was giving to her baby through her breast milk, she shopped around to find organic meat from farmers who treated their animals humanely.
“Then it got to a place that was tiring,” she said. “You hear news after news about how the meat was compromised in some shape or fashion. I didn't want to give that to my daughter. Then I started to see that the baby food was also not good either. It was filled with chemicals and preservatives.”
At the time she was living in Atlanta, Georgia working for a theatre company that taught ancient African history in schools.
The idea for opening a health food store was born when Ms Ingham visited her niece in Atlanta.
“We went somewhere for lunch,” Ms Ingham said. “It was a health food store connected to the gas station. It had all this healthy stuff that I was used to like smoothies and little cakes. I said hey let's open up a health food store.”
But their plans didn't come to fruition until Ms Daniels moved back to Bermuda in January.
“At that point we started the planning,” Ms Ingham said. “We were already importing healthy options through my business Kaur.”
Moving back to Bermuda Ms Daniels noticed a lack of options for people who had a plant-based diet.
“Coming here it is very hard to stay away from fried food,” she said. “If it is plant based it has been manoeuvred some way, some how. Access to certain fruits and vegetables is difficult.”
Ms Daniels said with the Covid-19 pandemic, people are taking more responsibility for their health.
“People have been reading and becoming more knowledgeable through everything going on in the world,” she said. “We are seeing all walks of life coming through the shop.”
Customers often ask them questions like: what should I take to lower my high blood pressure?
But Ms Ingham cautioned that they are not medical practitioners.
“We do not diagnose,” she said. “We can give you what is recommended as per the directions on the products. If it was suggested for you to take peppermint, then we have peppermint. But we suggest you do your own research.”
Ms Ingham said they don't sell any diet products. They are more interested in lifestyle changes.
The Natural Mystic Hub is very much a family affair.
Ms Daniel's brother, Kaz Godfrey, makes the popcorn and her cousin, Flavio Mundy, runs the smoothie bar. Ms Ingham's sister Moira Frankson and niece Siena also help out.
Her brother Earl Godfrey, Ms Daniels' father, bakes the bread every day and also grows some of the vegetables used to make the soup and salad.
Ms Daniels said love was the secret ingredient in the store, love between the staff running it, and love for their customers.
“It is a happy space,” Ms Ingham said. “The emphasis is to help bring healing to the island. A lot of things we eat control our minds which alter the way we behave. We have things to help clear people's minds and to help with their spirit, to calm them, and to bring peace to the island. A lot of people are functioning off of high stress and depression. We want to try to alleviate that on the island to help people to come to a place to unite and have peace.”
• Natural Mystic Hub is open Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 5.30pm and on Saturdays from 9am to 3pm. For more information call 295-8875, or see them on instagram @naturalmystichub or naturalmystichub.com