Although her grandmother doesn’t call it “sanity,” Varela unwittingly learned herbal medicine techniques that soothed her anxiety and depression.
“Growing up, especially in a Latino household, there is no depression or anxiety. My family really went through their ups and downs, and they just coped,” Varela said.
So when the pandemic struck and Varela found her mental health changing, she returned to her roots.
“I’ve always had plants, but I was still working. And I think once I was fired I was able to focus on my plants,” recalls Varela. “Once I started collecting a little more, it brought me back to our homeland. I started to be more in tune with my culture (and) it alleviated that depression and anxiety, in a sense. where I found out who was. “
As Varela connected to her past to anchor herself in the present, she had an idea that would change her future. In July 2020, Varela opened Semillas Plant Studio in hopes of sharing her cultural knowledge of plant medicine with the Pilsen community in Chicago, where she grew up.
“I really believe in herbal medicine and plant medicine,” Varela said. “I want to have a space where it’s my sanctuary, but it’s a sanctuary that I can share with everyone.”
“Semillas”, which means seeds in Spanish, is both a nod to building a business rooted in its heritage and to its mission to give back to the community. Varela collaborates with various local artists and entrepreneurs, allowing them to sell their products in her workshop, thus giving them the space to plant their own “semillas” in the community.
Visit SemillasPlantStudio.com for more information.