Au naturel: Shannon’s spiritual awakening
Twenty-two might seem a little young for a spiritual awakening, But Shannon Cann is an exception.
The lawyer launched Ase Naturals, a line of natural body oils, soaks and teas, after severe illness made her re-evaluate what she put in and on her body.
“I only use real plant extracts, herbs and oils. I don't use any synthetic ingredients or artificial fragrances or parabens. Nature has given us everything that we need,” Ms Cann said.
Three years ago, she came down with pneumonia. She had just returned from Delhi, India after teaching English to young women and street children when the symptoms surfaced.
“I went to my doctor and they immediately called the ambulance,” the 25-year-old recalled.
“I was admitted to hospital. I was in ICU for two weeks. I breathed and ate through a tube. I had to learn how to walk again because I was so weak.
“It was a big change for me. I look at it as a spiritual awakening.”
And so, her journey to better health began. She turned to a vegan diet and eliminated commercial beauty products from her routine.
She took online courses to educate herself on the medicinal properties of herbs and began blending her own products, body oils and teas.
When friends and family started placing orders, she thought: “Maybe I can actually turn this passion for herbs and natural living into a business.”
Ms Cann launched the company last November.
The results can be found at Urban Cottage, TABS and Naked Zero.
All of her products are charged with crystals and contain herbs that have specific benefits.
“What I want to inspire in everyone is self-love and self-care and also healthy living,” she said. “I hope to encourage mind body and spirit wellness.”
As an added bonus, she said her skin feels “amazing”.
“I also use the oils on my face and I wake up with a natural glow.”
Customers can choose from three body oils — lavender, calendula and rose.
“Lavender and Amethyst is my favourite, she said. “I just feel like I have a guard in terms of going about my day. I'm in a state of calmness.
“Some people say that's the placebo effect but I believe in the power of crystal energy.”
She believes her three soaks also serve a purpose: Breathe uses herbs that naturally help relieve allergy symptoms and cold and flu symptoms; Cleanse has lavender, rosemary and sage to “to cleanse the aura”; Royalty Bath Tea has rose petals, chamomile, hibiscus and calendula.
“The oils are natural plant-based oils,” she said. “They're pretty and they benefit the skin. It's relaxing for the mind and the body.
“I also have different salts, Himalayan pink salt, Dead Sea salt and Epsom salts which help to detox the body.”
While she strongly believes in the power of nature, she does not claim her tinctures will heal.
“I'm not a doctor, but these herbs are known to help with certain things,” she said.
“My Goddess Tea is all about women. It's about supporting the female system. Raspberry leaf and ginger are known to reduce inflammation, reduce menstrual cramps and relieve menopause.
“Om tea is for relaxation. The herbs used are for people who have anxiety or depression and are very good at relaxing the mind.
“Immune-tea is a blend of immune boosting herbs. Elderberry is an old-school remedy that has been used for hundreds of years to treat and prevent cold and flu. It's also good for respiratory infections.”
She has a cleansing tea for detoxing. Her bestselling Bermy Tea has ingredients that remind her of home.
“It has hibiscus leaf, lemon grass and ginger. It's light and refreshing.
“The hibiscus adds natural sweetness. They are all very good at reducing high blood pressure.”
Ase, she explained, is a word from the Yoruba people, an ethnic group of Nigeria.
“It means the power to make things happen. Another meaning is that it's a life force energy that exist within us all.
“People know Qi; it means that as well — the life force that exists within everyone.”
Ms Cann has always enjoyed giving back. As a teenager, she was a candy striper and joined mentoring programme YouthNet.
At university in Bristol, she joined Childreach International and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the organisation.
“A year later I bungee jumped and raised money for Action Against Alzheimer's and Dementia,” she said. “I did that because my grandmother, Ursula Hart, passed away from Alzheimer's and I really wanted to give back and help others.”
She was in India for three weeks, working for an empowerment programme started by a mother and her daughter.
“They teach life skills, sewing, computer skills, and English,” said Ms Cann.
“India was absolutely amazing. It's my favourite place. The culture, the people, the colour, the food, the smell — everything was just amazing.
“It was such a beautiful place, beautiful people. I had a really great experience.”