Honoring the Masculine

by Shea Smith

We wish to acknowledge and celebrate the masculine energy that has given HAALo foundational support. Without these men and their generous gifts of construction, legal advice, landscaping design and corporate accounting, HAALo would not be in the strong position we currently occupy.

A Heart-centered Model of Doing Business

It's no secret that HAALo follows a matriarchal model of doing business. We make strategic decisions from the heart-centered place of "What is highest and best for ALL involved?" and we do our daily business to the mantra of "How can this be a win–win decision (relationship, meeting, marketing message, etc.)?

We strive to support our Herbalists through life, parenthood, pregnancy, aging parents, spiritual growth and every other challenge that arises in the symbiotic relationship of combining personal life and career. We really do believe that a flexible, heart-centered, win–win attitude can overcome almost any obstacle if the work culture to support it is strong and healthy.

We not only honor diversity amongst our colleagues, we encourage it within one another to best be able to meet the needs of a very diverse community. We are not looking for cookie-cutter, in-the-box thinking at HAALo — we are looking for authentic, innovative, articulate and completely individual solutions to the health problems that our customers are seeking answers to.

Masculine Supports Feminine

And in this heart-centered, feminine model of business, we are completely supported and complemented with the energy of our male Herbalists behind the counter and additional men who work behind the scenes, unknown to most of our customers. This message is meant to honor them and the energy they have brought to HAALo to allow us to do what we do best.

Each of these men came into our HAALo sphere by tendrils of prayer, meditation and intention that were put out for a very specific need, both physical and energetic. The stories of how they found us are as unique as the men themselves.


For example, Gene Mesick showed up in the middle of a personal angst ridden time of pondering how we were going to finance the remodel of the new building we were scheduled to move into. Basically, our first meeting went something like this.

"Hi, are you Shea?"

Big smile. "Yes!”

"I'm Gene. If you could use a little help, I can help you with construction."

I gave him a curious look-over, complete with a raised eyebrow. "How do you know I need construction help?"

He gave me a brief look of disbelief as in 'are you mentally sound?' But then, in utter calmness fitting for such an obviously clueless young soul as myself, he said "well… If you need any help, give me a call."

Little did I know he was a gifted licensed contractor who was about to bestow upon us thousands of dollars of donated time to build two clinical rooms, reroute an HVAC system, enclose a ceiling, create a beautiful wooden countertop, and custom make all of our herb shelving.

Can you say "GENE! We love you! THANK YOU!" No — you can't — because he hates attention. He probably won't even be able to read this newsletter. But just in case, in a teeny, tiny small whisper, “Thanks, Gene, you’re the greatest. We couldn't have gotten here without you!”


And then there's Bill. Bill is a 40-something, fiery communist with a long blonde beard and bright eyes. He thinks capitalism is "b•ll$h!t." He heard our story and said "I like what you're doing. This is what business should be doing for our community — what do you need?"

So we told him, "Well, we need construction skills, landscaping, painting — what can you do?"

"All of that and more. I'm from Maine… We're self-reliant. I probably have most of the skills you need to help with completion."


"See those stone steps outside? I built those for APPLE (previous non-profit tenant). I worked on all the earthen clay walls and helped with the previous remodel."

"AWESOME! How much do you charge for your services?"

"Charge??! CHARGE??" he roared. "Seriously? I'm not going to charge you anything. Capitalism SUCKS! I'm going to help you because it's the right thing to do and I believe in your vision. I want to be part of it!!"

So, we got out-of-the-way and let him create. He stained all of our locally milled wood, worked on the stone steps, custom clayed our walls and worked with Gene on the beautiful wooden countertop, which after the harvest and local milling still had large cracks in it's thick slab. Bill said, "Go ask a local cafe if we can have their organic coffee grounds."

We returned back with a bucket of used organic grounds. He mashed them up with wood glue then spread thin deep into all the cracks. The next day he sanded the counter. The result? A beautiful contrast of black-filled crevices against the light grain wood. A masterpiece of a countertop for us to do business from. The symbiosis of these two men brought much needed creative beauty and structure into HAALo.


Working alongside these men during construction was Brandon Smith. Re-wiring, sheet rocking and framing, he worked weekends and after work. He and Gene moved the heavy armoires from our old store to the new and then he helped restructure our storage unit with shelving. Did I forget to mention he laid all the bamboo and natural flooring, pro bono, from donated supplies? Or, that he and I were in the midst of a loving divorce through this entire remodel?

He did all of this and more because that's the kind of man he is. He believed wholeheartedly in his crazy ex-wife, all of her friends and the vision of a community herbal shoppe. He was willing to do whatever it took to support us. And wouldn't you know it — through this journey of unconditional support and working on many projects together we were able to rebuild our marriage and come back together stronger than before. Another HAALo healing story.


Of course, all of this would be null and void if we didn't have administrative support and legal advice. David Franco donated and continues to help us throughout each of the many stages of our growth with his expertise as a CPA and understanding of the corporate tax code. He was able to steer us through those first few years of nonprofit status into our broader vision of becoming a Benefit Corporation, B-Corp. He has helped us avoid and understand a gauntlet of financial mistakes we could have made early on and he has protected us with stealth and many years of financial experience.

We are three years into this journey and still, as we navigate community, heart-centered business terrain, we find ourselves needing his steady, calm, protective, and visionary hand. His layperson translation of corporate legalese into a language we can understand has been invaluable as we learn to work within a system that is notorious for crushing "the little gal." He has helped prepare us for the inevitable financial storms that happen with a growing and expanding business. Truly, we are so very, very thankful for his guiding presence in our shop.

HAALo's Male Herbalists

And last, but definitely not least, are our four male Herbalists: David Cooper, Benjah Martchek, Phil Garrison and Jon Oleson. These men each have a unique relationship to the plants, knowledge and experiences with the herbs that benefit our community in countless ways. They bring Chinese, Western, Native American and Shamanic Herbalism to our customers, and we have seen their influence not only on our mostly-female clientele but they have met the needs of the men in our community as well.

More and more, we are seeing men coming in and asking for advice not only for themselves but their partners and/or children as well. The ability to speak with male herbalists has not only relaxed them but the conscious presence of these very awakened herbalists gives strong role modeling and healthy examples of deep relationship to plants that some men have craved but not known how to manifest.

Our classes are beginning to reflect this, as more and more men attend and learn plant medicine. As the months continue we will be featuring each one of our male Herbalists to really give you a window into their soul. But for now, a big, gigantic Thank You to the four guys behind the counter!

Backbone of Support

All of these men, and many more, have provided a backbone of support that HAALo has needed. They have allowed the feminine, healing, intuitive work that we as women do best to come into form. They have given us a firm structure, with fierce protection both legally and structurally, to allow us to make the heartfelt connections and decisions we need to be able to make to serve our community. Some other notable men who have helped us through donations of support are (in order of their appearance on our timeline):

Jimmy Mistron
Jonathan Valdman
Joshua Sandstrom
Bob Winters
Kalub Jarosh
Robert (we can't find his last name!)—Lighting
David Crow
Jai Dev Khalsa
Andrew Werderitsch
Turtle Turtlington
Daniel Nicholson
Marc Williams
Jerome Verhasselt
Cameron Griffin
Dave Brennan
Todd Snyder
Crispian Mudd
Stefan Fitzer
Avi Burg
Banjo Dave
Tommy Daly
David Cheever
Coryon Redd


Blessings through the Solstice,


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  1. THat was beautiful Shea!! Loving your love for the men of HAALo. How very sweet…and important. These men need our appreciation so much and boy do we appreciate them! Thanks for writing this. xo