BY ISOBEL O'HARE
Trinity Cross is the owner of Field Day, a boutique and apothecary in Oakland, California, and Forest & Fields, her fledgling line of homegrown herbal remedies. Check them out on Instagram @fielddayandfriends
ON THE HISTORY OF FIELD DAY
I used to always say, "Having a field day!" Like, "I'm having a field day," and then it kind of just stuck. I struggled with the name for a long time because I wanted it to represent a wildflower or something really beautiful and also hardy and unique, but accessible. Something that makes you feel good and fun and happy. I was just trying to think of what inspired those feelings in me, and I kept coming back to when I was a kid and being in school when we would have our field days. That was the thing that I looked forward to or the thing that I loved. It was more of a feeling, and I wanted to say the name and for people to instantly have a feeling with the name.
So, it stuck. I've definitely been like, have I outgrown the name? Do I need to change the name? I've decided that I'm just going to stick with it because I can't think of anything better and I love it. It tells the story pretty well, I think: being outside, getting dirty, playing with your friends. Just carefree abandon and looking good, too.
I would do a lot of shows, different craft shows and pop-up shops, and Maker Faire, and stuff like that. And that's kind of where I got a lot of my friendships, where I met a lot of the creative people that we have in the store. Where I made a lot of the connections, and where the idea of the store kind of came from because I was like, wow, I know so many people who make beautiful stuff. And I want to be able to showcase it and tell the story of it.
Originally, I was looking for a little studio because I was pretty content with just doing shows, doing online orders, and then selling to other stores. But then I found this place and it was cheaper than a lot of the warehouse spaces that I was looking at. We've been here for a little over 3.5 years. It'll be about four years in May.
All of Field Day is designed in-house. It's designed here. I have a team of people. So, I have a pattern-maker, I have a sample-maker, I have a cutter, and I have a team of sewers. Every single piece and aspect of Field Day is all done in Oakland. And that's really important to me as just keeping everything local, having good relationships with all of the people that I work with, and having everything be transparent because the minute you start shipping your stuff away you lose track of what's actually happening in the process of what's going on. I feel like quality also goes down, too. It's really nice to be able to go to my sewers workshop and look over things as they're sewing and make sure that everything's right, whereas if I were to send it off, then I wouldn't know until I got everything back, and if there was a mistake then I'd have to ship it back. Keeping things close to home is important to me.
It was really neat when I first got this space. There wasn't anything around here--it's just been in the last couple of years--except for Tracy and Fernando, my neighbors at Vamp, which is a record store and vintage shop. They're great because they were just opening their space, too. We signed our lease pretty much at the same exact time, so we were both kind of shooting in the dark, being like, OK, what's going to happen?
We're in the business area of Uptown Oakland. There's like, no retail anywhere. There's no shopping, but we were really hoping that, through being open, people who were working in an office might want a little reprieve, a little retail therapy, a place to come shop and chat. It's been such a blessing having them as neighbors. They're really great. And they host shows and do record swaps and all kinds of stuff. We just have a really great rapport with each other. It's nice because sometimes it can be kind of lonely here. It's nice to know that I've got neighbors right next door that I can reach out to if anything happens.
ON FOREST & FIELDS
Forest & Fields hasn't launched yet. I'm still in beta. I'm just kind of testing things out. I have five or six friends who have stores scattered all over the country--mostly herb shops--and they were like, "Hey, we would sell your stuff if you want to sell it. It's really cool." And so I was like, "OK, great. And then you guys can give me feedback and let me know how things are going." And my idea was to launch in Spring of 2017, so I'm pushing for that, but it's been a little slow-going. It's really hard to run two businesses at the same time plus have a store. Running the clothing line unto itself is a full-time job.
ON THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF A DRESS WITH POCKETS
I pretty much don't buy anything unless it has pockets. I am a person who just always has my hands in my pockets. It feels really comforting to me. I always have something in my hand that I need to have a place to put in the pockets. You wouldn't believe how many people shriek when they see there are pockets on the dresses.
There are so few items of clothing that are made for women that are utilitarian, especially in dresses. It's generally very tight, very uncomfortable, hard to breathe, hard to relate to other people because all you want to do is take your dress off. That's all you can think about. I wanted something comfortable that's also accessible. You can be working in it, you can throw something in your pocket, you can bend over, you can ride a bike, you can hike a mountain, you can throw it off when you get to the lake and want to jump in, and put it back on real quick. I just have to have pockets.
If I'm going to make it and I can put a pocket on it and have it work, then it's going to have a pocket of some sort or variety, and it's going to be a good pocket, a functional pocket, not just for looks but something that you can actually put your phone in, you can put your little journal in, you can put your little spade for digging in the ground in, or whatever. I'm always using pockets. We position our pockets in a place to where it's not going to bulk you out. Toward the front, on the legs, or on the thighs. Down a little bit, in a place where your hands can naturally rest and feel comfortable, and then you can also throw stuff in there for fidgeting hand people like myself.
I was just reading an article that's actually pretty good, and it was all about the feminist movement through having pockets. It talks about how basically the man is trying to keep us down through not giving us a place to put any of our stuff, so then we have to carry this bag on our shoulders, which kind of weighs us down and keeps us from being able to really move our bodies and be in our element. And we're constantly worried about our bag, constantly worried about our purse and where to put stuff, whereas most things made for men have pockets so they don't need to carry around a bag. They can just throw their phone or throw their keys or their cards or their cash or whatever in their pockets and be done. I thought that was really interesting. I had never thought about it in that viewpoint before, but someone posted it to my Facebook and was like, I thought about you when I saw this. And I was like, "Yes! All must have pockets!"
I think about the smell of the earth after it rains when I think about wilderness. I think about wild animals. Speaking personally, I am currently trying to figure out a way to get out of the city. So, I think I embrace these things that make me feel like I'm more a part of the earth, through gardening, or through making herbal products, or through doing rituals with the Moon, or different things that I do just to feel grounded and on the actual earth because, living in the city, I feel like sometimes we get so caught up in the grind of just trying to pay our bills, or trying to be a good friend, or trying to take care of our animals, or trying to take care of our other friends who are upset that we lose sight of the fact that we are actually in the wilds. If we collapsed all these buildings and nobody did anything in a hundred years, then it would all turn back to the wilds.
I am an aspiring herbalist. I've been going to the Northern California Women's Herbal Symposium for 15 years. It's amazing. It's so beautiful. I was herb-curious, I guess, when I first started going, and a good friend of mine who's an herbalist took me. And it's just so beautiful. They have a maiden ceremony where they honor the young women who have started bleeding, and they have workshops with different teachers, from Karen Sanders - all different, really amazing teachers. Everybody eats together. It's under this giant oak grove. You can swim in the river. And that's where I feel like I can tap into more of the wilderness, or kind of more what I'm supposed to be doing, or what I was meant to do. I struggle sometimes with designing clothing because I'm like, is this really what I'm supposed to do?
I mean, I make people happy in some regards. There is nothing better than seeing someone put on something that I've created and them feel really happy and beautiful in their bodies. That's something really special, but I struggle with, ah, there's already so much stuff already made in the world. Should I be making more? Or should I just focus more on medicine-making? What am I happy doing? What fulfills me most? What spreads my light the most?
The herbal thing is kind of an experiment at this point, because I'm already making concoctions and doing things for myself and for my friends and family, just trying to see if I could sustain it for a larger scale. And also, would it afford me to then be able to move to the country, if I had my own herbal-based business? Because then I could grow the herbs, and I could distill my own essential oils, and I could harvest--I have two beehives now, but I could maybe have way more bees. My ultimate dream is to have a lavender/clary sage honey farm.
Through doing Forest & Fields, it's kind of an experiment while I have the store, while I have these friends that have stores, just to see if it would be a sustainable business. I really have a lot of respect for product-based businesspeople who are doing this herbal thing because you have to make so much product in order to make a profit. Everything is so expensive and then there is all of the packaging and the labels, and then if you don't know how to use Photoshop you have to hire a graphic designer, and the whole thing. So, it's been a little bit of an eye-opening experience for me, trying to do this Forest & Fields thing. Rather than just making birthday presents for my friends out of herbal medicines, tapping into this larger thing.
I've definitely done a lot of self-study. I've taken a ton of classes. I've studied a lot with Jeanne Rose. We sell some of her books here. She's amazing. She was actually a fashion designer in the 60s. She designed for Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix and stuff, and she's kind of the grandmother of herbalism. She wrote that book, Herbs & Things. It was one of the first big herb books to hit the market.
She teaches out of her house in San Francisco, and her house is amazing. It's like an essential oil museum. She's got so many different things from the 1800s, and so many different essential oils from all over the world. It's pretty incredible, and it is a huge honor to study with her. I've learned a ton of information from her. I'm thinking about taking her online course. I've also been thinking about going to Blue Otter School of Medicine. It's Karen Sanders's and Sarah Holmes's school up in Yreka. But it would mean that I would have to be free for the entire summer and go up there and do a class, which I don't know if I can do. So, that's something I've been aspiring to do.
I read a lot. I try things. I just kind of get in, dig in, and see how things work for myself. I'm really into plant spirit medicine, so figuring out how to--I guess not how to--just listening. Just really tapping in and listening to the meditative state where plants can really hone in with you, where you can really have a connection. Listening more to the plants. I'm really into making flower essences from my own plants that I grow. I'm really into salvias lately. I've been doing a lot of salvia work. Rue. Clary sage is my love, my true love. I had the honor of growing some really beautiful bushes this year and making some clary sage honey.
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ON CLARY SAGE
The smell is so intoxicating. The medicinal properties I feel could just help everyone so much. It helps with anxiety, strife, depression, and grief, and all of the things that in this modern-day society we are so caught up in and can't really avoid. It's just got this real sweet softness to it, but it's also got a very--it's very striking.
It's pink and purple, and it's got these crazy plumes that just bloom off of bloom off of bloom, and the hummingbirds and the bees love it. They like most salvias, but this one in particular would make my bees freak out, and there were hummingbirds in my garden every morning when I would go out there. And then it's got this forked tongue, like this really cool kind of devilish forked tongue, that sticks out. It's incredible. I never got sick of staring at it. And you can pull the little blossoms off and suck on the backs, and it's so sweet and yummy and earthy, too, at the same time. It's just such a joy. Any time I'd have a friend come over, I'd be like, "Oh, come and suck on these clary sage blossoms with me!"
Sages are so different. I have probably 12 different varieties of sage growing in my backyard now. It's pretty hardy. Drought-tolerant. The bees all love the blooms, and the hummingbirds. They're all very pollenator friendly and drought-tolerant. A lot of them are native to the area. I originally planted a bunch just because I was like, ah, I don't want to have to pour all of this water, we're in a drought and I feel crazy watering all this food and then having nobody even harvest it. It stayed here in my garden, and I can only eat so much. So then I was just like, OK, I'm just going to plant what I can eat and the rest will be salvias and yarrow and different herbs that other things will like besides just me.
ON MAKING HONEY
The bees make the honey. I steal it from them, but only a little bit at a time. I don't sell it, I covet it. I give it away as gifts, mainly, and then I have my little hoard of honey that I love to eat from. But I did make some clary sage honey this spring, I guess. Late spring. I just have a tiny little bit left, and I've been very carefully putting it into my tea, or taking a spoonful when I feel sad.
ON IDENTIFYING AS A WITCH
I don't really like to put myself in a box, but I would say yeah, definitely, by the terms of the definition. I am definitely a spiritual person. I work with the Moon cycles a lot. That's how I do a lot of my intentional work and my ritual work. I consider myself a pagan, just because the true definition is anything other than the majority religion, which is definitely me. I just have such a deep connection and respect for other living things besides humans. I mean, I have that respect for humans, too, but I feel like so much of our intention and so much of our thought and so much of our focus goes onto human beings, which makes sense because that's who we are and it's what we're connected to and it's our force, but I don't know. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but it was definitely a big change in my life when I started looking out to other things besides my own energy or my own input. Just noticing. Being very present and noticing the world around me and the ebb and flow of how things grow and die and come back again, and that definitely got me more in touch with my witchiness. It's also so in trend right now that I'm always a little apprehensive to be like, "I'm a witch!"
I just hope that it doesn't go out of fashion, I guess, is my main thing. Anything that can bring people to have more of a connection to the earth and to be more conscious of their impact and to be more conscious of the fact that we are in this moment right now, living here--what do we want? What do we want to do? Intention is so huge. Half of getting what you want is knowing what you want. Half of propelling goodness into the Universe is realizing that you want to propel goodness into the Universe. I think that if it's a trend and people are catching on to a real, authentic way of life where it's really tapped into the earth and to the bounty that the earth gives us and being appreciative and honoring that connection, is amazing. If it's just that people are wearing flowy black dresses and witch hats and black eyeliner and calling themselves witches, I'm like, eh, not so much. But I try not to judge, too, and just be open to people looking outside of themselves. And also, oh my God, how crazy is it that 150 years ago you would get killed? So, just to have that freedom of expression, to have that freedom of what you want to practice, and being able to work with plants and not being called an old hag. And having people embrace this feeling of the earth, this movement of plant-based people. We are here, and we are going to do some work, and I think that's great. If I can help contribute to that, that's awesome. And then I just have to shush my little voice that's like, those people aren't witches. They just play one on TV. It's way better than having to keep it hushed.
ON WHERE NIGHTMARES COME FROM
Anxiety. Stress. It could be past life or a connection, like a portal of some kind, opening to where you're getting some energy that isn't invited or welcomed. But I think, speaking for myself, when I get really intensely negative dreams that impact me in a negative way, I can almost always relate it to anxiety or stress about something up and coming, or something that happened in the past. If I'm generally feeling good and eating well, and in touch with myself, then I'm generally sleeping really well and having pretty pleasant dreams.
ON TREATMENTS FOR NIGHTMARES
I really like Herb Apothecary's Slumber Serum. It's really good. It's nice because you can actually just put it right on your temples and the smell is amazing. It's got that really nice chamomile smell.
I really like the Dream Spray that I make because it has the amethyst crystals, which is really great because, for one, the properties of amethyst are there. And then, for two, you can shake the bottle. And through your subconscious hearing that rattle of the amethyst in there and you thinking about how you want to relate to your dreams--whether you want to be more present in your dreams or whether you want to bring more sweetness in your dreams, or whether you want to dream about a certain person--just having that intention of hearing that noise can really relate to your subconscious to train yourself to think about those things. And if you can equate the smell and the sensation of the mist on your face and the sound of the rattle, I think that those are really good things for incorporating and just practicing intention. Just being like, this is how I want this to play out. I don't want to fall asleep and have some scary, really bad thing happen to me. I want to fall asleep and I want to dream about this really cute person I have a crush on. Or I want to dream about unicorns! Or I want to dream about going to Thailand and swimming in the ocean, or whatever.
When I've really done that work and really focused on what I want to see happen in my dreams, not only does it show up in my dreams, but oftentimes it will show up in my waking life. I think it's really powerful, like super powerful. I am not one that is super plagued with nightmares. I've never been really plagued with nightmares. I've had bad dreams, for sure. One thing that really helps, I think, with dreams is a glass of warm milk. I know it's an old wive's tale or whatever, but, I mean, I think that just brings us back to our infancy and feeling warm and cozy and close to Mom. Feeling protected and where we have a lifeline.
IO: So, I used the Dream Spray the other night.
TC: You did?
IO: It was kind of a funny experience because I was going to use the Ghosts elixir from Sister Spinster and I noticed it has brandy in it, and I smelled it, and I haven't had anything to drink for three years. So, I was like, I don't know how I feel about that. I put it aside and I was like, all right, I'll do the spray tonight. I shook it up and I sprayed it around, a little bit before I got into bed and a little when I got into bed. But I think the whole preoccupation with the alcohol was on my mind because then I had this really intense dream where I had something to drink for the first time in three years and I was so stressed out about it. It was a powerful dream that just reminded me, you made this decision for a reason. And so I woke up and I was relieved that it was only a dream and that I hadn't had any alcohol.
TC: You could also use it on your temples.
IO: Oh! OK.
TC: You can put a drop of it in some water on your altar as a way of ingesting it or taking it. It's a flower essence, mainly, is what she's using. So it's very tapped in to the spiritual/emotional world rather than the actual physical world. I would say you could try that and maybe just put a drop on your altar or put a drop on your wrists and rub them together. But that's definitely the intention with the dream spray that I made, is for you to use it right before you go to sleep and to really bring in what you want to dream about. And so that's funny--
IO: I'm going to use it again because I felt almost like it was a bad try, or like a waste or something?
TC: Maybe not, though!
IO: Later I thought, maybe I needed to have that dream. It's good to have a periodic reminder that you made a decision, it was a good one, and you should stick with it.
IO: I think it was a good experience now.
IO: I also have the Protection Anointing Balm, and I'm not quite sure--is that something to put on your temples as well?
TC: Mm-hmm. Or it's like a perfume, but it's also an anointing balm if you're doing any kind of spell work, or if you're doing any kind of intention work, or if you're just feeling the Protection one in particular. If you're feeling in danger. It can really help you with boundaries, help with building a wall. The woman who makes that is really awesome. She's Nightshade Botanicals.
ON WHAT SHE HOPES HER CUSTOMERS WILL TAKE AWAY FROM FIELD DAY
I hope that they feel good about spending their money here because they're directly giving it back to people who make the products. That's what's so special about this place, that you're voting for the world, literally voting for the world that you want to live in. We don't carry any big makers. Everything that we carry is independent. Mostly women. Everyone that we carry makes their products in the USA. We do a really thorough look at what they make, all the ingredients that are involved. Nothing that we carry has any kind of synthetics or petroleum. We only sell beeswax candles.
I want them to be inspired to make things as well. And I want them to feel like they can come in and not buy something, too. If they need to just come in and try something out and see how it rolls around on their tongue. Ask questions. Feel out a new dress. See how it makes them feel. I would love for people who don't wear dresses to come in and buy a dress. That's what makes my day is when I hear someone say, "Oh, I never wear dresses." And then I'm like, "Well, have you tried on one of these dresses before?" Because I didn't used to wear dresses either until I started designing them. They're way more comfortable than pants, and oftentimes more versatile. I guess I just want to create a community. More people who get it, you know? And hopefully, through that, more people will get it.
That was part of us carrying the essential oils. We brought on Veriditas essential oils, which is the only US-based eco-certified essential oil company, which means that you can trace it from the seed. Where the seed came from, when it was planted, where it was planted, when it was harvested, when it was distilled, when it was bottled, and when it was shipped--you can track all of that information through the little seed number. It's a little more pricey, but I'm hoping that, through carrying things that have more integral intentional values, that people can really appreciate it and that that will bloom and grow in the things that people do with their essential oils, or with their candles, or with their herbal sachets that they get, or through using the Forest & Fields Cloud of Protection, or the Dream Spray.
I'm just trying to figure out a way to incorporate people actually awakening in themselves a feeling of connectedness and wanting to be closer to the earth. And also, honoring and respecting that and not just buying something and using it once and throwing it away, because it does have this really precious earth vitality in it. It's alive. It's magic. I just hope that people feel the magic when they come in and that it's not just a trend. I hope people come in and really embrace it rather than being like, "I'm buying this thing because my friend thinks it's cool," but really understanding it. And I love taking the extra time to explain what we have to people and what the story of it is.