Growing up, sisters Jody Koveloski-Thorpe and Michaline Schrade, our NJMOMpreneurs of the week, always had a dream to open a business together. With their love of herbalism and a strong desire to help others, the two South Jersey sisters (Jody lives in Cherry Hill, Michaline in Medford) had an idea to combine their artistic talents and gardening expertise to create a brand of homegrown teas, tonics, and skincare. In 2016, they started Mystical Blossoms selling at local shows, online, and eventually in their tiny gem of a shop in Medford, where they help burned-out moms and corporate types heal and nurture their bodies, minds, and souls. We caught up with these two mamas about the yin and yang of working together (Jody maintains the garden and mixes the formulas, Michaline makes soaps and designs the labels), which of their products is rumored to have helped more than one woman get pregnant, and the impossibility of choosing a favorite Jersey Shore locale.
Featured photo via Kerry Anne Photography
Was working together and having a wellness business always the dream?
Jody: Michaline and I would dream up things we wanted to do together as a business for as long as I can remember. Though we both had other jobs (I was in the car industry), our discussions always came back to us wanting to help people. Originally we formulated products for our children and ourselves, and when we saw a positive outcome, we knew we could also help others this way. We were excited to introduce others to plant medicine that’s simple yet beautiful and effective.
Michaline: Mystical Blossoms became a possibility in 2009 when Jody started learning about chakras and self-development and introduced the concepts to me. At the time, I worked at a fast-paced ad agency as a designer that made me question my entire career. I bought the book Success Principles by Jack Canfield and felt empowered for the first time in my life—I realized I could change my unhappy work situation. We began taking classes together in 2013 on spirituality and self-development, starting with Reiki training, psychic development, Tarot courses, and herbalism. Since Jody has always been an avid gardener, herbalism connected her love of the garden with health and wellness possibilities. She forced me to take an herbal course, too, and that’s when everything clicked. Together, we began making products for ourselves, our families, and our friends. While we still had our corporate jobs, we kept perfecting our formulas and designing labels. In 2016 we named our business and soon followed that with a local metaphysical expo where our products flew off the table. Shortly afterward, we launched our online store and continue to move the business forward.
What led you to launch your shop?
Jody: We were getting Mystical Blossoms out in the community by working seven days a week, traveling all over NJ, PA, and NY. The positive feedback we received from customers pushed us in the direction of finally opening a brick and mortar. We wanted to have a shop where we could connect with our customers, and it would be very much an extension of what we do. When we opened What The Cottage in 2019 at a tiny 200 square feet, the abundance of pinks, purples, and flowers in this very girly, airy-fairy shop felt precisely like us.
What makes your shop unique and special?
Michaline: I think our sisterhood is the biggest thing that makes us unique. Many of our customers comment on how much they love watching our relationship and connection through the business. Everything from start to finish comes with our personal touch—we even include a handwritten note with each shipment.
Jody: I agree—I love working with my sister. Our products are also very special, since we make 80% of the items we sell in our store, and the other 20% is usually from another handmade artist who cares about making the world a better place, or from a stay-at-home mom who needs an income. Also, we have very close relationships with many of our customers, partly because during our “off” hours, Michaline does Reiki, and I do a Tarot reading for them. Some people come into our store, and they might be struggling emotionally or physically. We advise them on what might help them, whether it’s a crystal, candle, tea, or something else which brings a level of intimacy to the shop.
What are a few of your can’t-keep-them-on-the shelf-products?
Jody: One of our top sellers right now is herb bundles, a collection of dried herbs tied together with string. The herb bundles will always be near and dear to my heart. I make them with foraged botanicals and herbs from my garden, such as our white sage, lavender, mugwort, cedar, and pine. They’re intended to be burned in personal rituals or used to clear away negative energy. Our mushroom cacao (a chocolate powder mix to drink or eat and support your immune system) and sleep drops (a natural alternative to prescription sleeping aids) are also big sellers. Recently, a few women have said that our sexy tea has helped them get pregnant. Although we don’t want to take credit for any babies, we are happy that they enjoyed our tea and the magic was there.
Michaline: I’ve also noticed that Botanical Glow Face Serum has been flying off the shelves. This serum is better than any expensive, anti-aging face product I’ve ever used, and customers cannot get enough. Our teas are always in very high demand. We have a blend for every mood or need, and our loyal customers buy it on repeat. And New Moon soap is so good that estheticians have remarked how well it has cleared their patients’ faces. Many of our customers’ husbands will use it out of curiosity, and they become hooked since it clears up acne and backne.
Are you involved in any charitable organizations?
Michaline: We’re huge fans of animals and wildlife in general, so we do what we can to help support Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge. It’s a worthy cause that means a lot to us, mainly because we would go there with our mother and bring injured animals to them. They also provide wildlife education, conservation, and rehabilitation. It’s not surprising that my two children love visiting—they offer classes, summer camps, scouting programs, and more.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
Michaline: The pandemic gave us an even deeper appreciation for our customers and the community we’ve built around our business. When COVID hit, it was less than a year after we opened our shop, and we weren’t sure if we would make it. But we adapted by being creative, flexible, and communicative to what customers wanted and needed. We offered porch pickup and also focused on our online presence all while we were closed. Since reopening, people come in and ask how we are doing, and it shows concern—it makes us happy to be there, and we recognize we have a responsibility to our community. We always had people asking us what to do for anxiety and sleep, but now we’re getting more in-depth with our customers and helping them maintain their mental health. For the first time in our careers, we genuinely feel irreplaceable and of service.
What are some of your favorite local businesses?
Michaline: Grubr Eats has meals ready-to-go, and everything is amazing, perfect for those days I want a healthy meal, but I don’t have the energy to cook. And I love their Chocolate Olive Oil Cake—it’s the best pick me up. Star Child Nature School is another favorite business of mine. Run by Melissa Sheppard, the program is all nature-based and outdoors. She encourages children to use their imaginations with nature to grow and learn. Clare (my daughter) went from a shy little toddler to a courageous little girl who can’t get enough adventure and playfulness.
Jody: I love the local business Relics Revisited. The maker, Aimee Eckert, creates beautiful jewelry from found objects and sells fair trade clothing, which I strongly believe in. This world needs more women supporting women—buying small, local, or fair trade keeps that passion alive and helps support others’ dreams. Aimee also lives by the Dalai Lama’s mantra, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” I like that.
Please share some favorite things to do in NJ with your family?
Jody: I’m a true Jersey Girl and have always loved going down the shore but don’t make me pick a favorite—it’s too hard. Long Beach Island is so special, and I have such fond memories of Fantasy Island Amusement Park. In Cape May, I love Beach Plum Farm and Sunset Beach. And Asbury Park reminds me of New Hope, but on the beach, with a great dog beach and fun restaurants.
Michaline: It’s so simple, but our favorite thing to do is visit Long Beach Island on a whim during the week. We walk on the beach and feel the ocean breeze and sand under our feet. We follow it up with some ice cream and watching the sunset on the bay. It doesn’t cost a lot, and it’s an excellent way to get a dose of the beach without the crowds during the day.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever got and want to pass on to a fellow NJMOMpreneur?
Jody: Dream big but give yourself time to make your dreams come true. It’s also a great idea to partner up with another person so you can lift each other up when needed. I believe you can do anything with a strong network of like-minded women.
Michaline: I’m a big fan of Gary Vee, a visionary and a motivator for entrepreneurs. He talks about focusing on the end game instead of the small, easy wins that don’t set your business up for true success. Of course, it’s essential to honor small wins along the way. But if you focus on your why (as in why you are doing your business), it will carry you through the tough days, and if you keep going, your long-term success will be untouchable.
For more information about Jody Koveloski-Thorpe, Michaline Schrade, and Mystical Blossoms, follow their website, Facebook, and Instagram.