All fun, no fuss: An interview with Zizia Botanicals founder Abbe Findley

Posted by Ariel Katz on

Abbe Findley was born and raised on a small farm in Missouri and now lives and works in Los Angeles. She’s an herbalist, nail technician, artist, and the founder of Zizia Botanicals, and the newest addition to the our very own Contributor Collection

There’s a science-loving therapeutic approach to life that drives Abbe's business at Zizia creating innovative formulas for modern-day humans, and the medical foot-health work she does with Street Feet LA.

For EVERYBODY.WORLD, she’s designed Unisex Day to Night Shorts and a super long Tall Tee. We spoke with Abbe about her designs and color inspirations, her passion for herbs, decision-making around dressing up in a pandemic, and more. 

How would you describe your personal style?

Laidback, sporty, glam. Most days I wear a giant t-shirt and jeans, but I love dressing up when the timing is right. My style is centered around the accent pieces to the outfit; for me, it’s all about what shoes, jacket, socks, jewels, hairdo, and lipstick will be paired with the look! I’ve always felt if you have a great pair of shoes, you can wear anything.

What was your inspiration behind your designs for EVERYBODY.WORLD?

Clothes I can sleep in but also roll out of bed and go to work in too. It takes me about five minutes to get ready in the morning before leaving for the studio, so the thought of being able to easily choose my wardrobe or wear what I wore the night before always appeals to me. Less decision-making is always a plus these days given the vast amount of choices present at all times. Simple designs, but with room to transform into a myriad of looks with the right pairing of accent pieces.

EVERYBODY.WORLD BY ABBE FINDLEY

How did you approach this project?

I started with the items I’ve worn the most during the pandemic: Boxer brief shorts and giant t-shirt dresses. I wanted my designs to be more specific in shape and dressed up a bit so it doesn’t look like sleepwear or like you’re wearing men’s underwear to the grocery store. Which I contemplated on multiple occasions last year because the ease of sleeping in it and rolling out the door felt so right.

Tell me about the Mini Tote?

We created the dream travel bag/purse! I like multifunctional pieces. This bag can carry all your hygiene products for your trip but then also double as a purse when you get to your destination. It’s also perfect for the beach, pool, hike, or stuffing your exercise clothes in for later in the day.

What was the process like to bring your collection to life?

It started by working with a few items of clothing I already owned but wanted to customize more to my liking. We visited the fabric district in downtown LA to pick out deadstock spools we could use for these garments. The baby blue mesh and the two-tone silk dress were some of the first we selected. I loved the mesh for its sporty look but also living in a hot place it’s nice to have items you can throw on yet still catch a little breeze in while you’re out and about. The two-tone silk was beautiful and fulfilled the going-out look...with heels and hoops, wow!

Can you speak to some of your design details? 

For the dress, the narrow fit, mock-ish neck, and thick one-inch hem on the sleeves and bottom make it special. I felt these details could easily transform the piece from sleepwear to daywear with the option of dressing it up in the evening for going out. You can wear it to work, then change your shoes and throw on a jacket and it’s a new style. I wanted the colors to be simple so people can add their personality and pop of color to the look. Maybe it’s lime green socks, gold earrings, and/or a neon orange raincoat!

For the shorts, it’s the high waist and thick hem on the legs. I wanted them to be extra comfortable but also easily wearable to the grocery store with a giant t-shirt on a Sunday morning. I love cherry red, it reminds me of my growing up on the farm in Missouri. All the red Solo cups full of iced tea at every outdoor meal usually in a cow pasture or a cornfield, my dad’s Chevy truck, picking cherries, and granny’s strawberry jam.

EVERYBODY.WORLD BY ABBE FINDLEY

Who do you see wearing it?

Anyone and everyone. I want people to enjoy a slice of life in these clothes and hopefully make a few great memories along the way! I hope people will fly, travel around the world, lay in bed for an entire day, go to the library, garden, have a picnic, eat tons of great food, get a little tipsy, go dancing, and fall into bed with the best night’s sleep...in these clothes!

How do you want people to feel when wearing these garments?

Comfortable, confident, and like you can go anywhere in them.

EVERYBODY.WORLD BY ABBE FINDLEY

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, how do you describe what you do?

I run an herbal company and I work with pretty much every plant BUT weed. I also make art but lately, I’ve been channeling my art practice into graphic design for the company.

Then if they seem interested. I will expand and say...

I’ve been studying and practicing herbalism for nearly a decade. I develop, design product packaging, formulate, and manufacture most products myself, specializing in herbal tinctures, skincare, candies, and tea. In my spare time, I make videos, installations, and works on paper.

If they’re still interested then sometimes I’ll open up and share the other projects I’m working on…

I run a project called Street Feet LA, we offer free mobile medical foot care to LA’s Skid Row community. I got into this work way before Zizia was born, it’s been about seven years now! The team consists of Josie Mattson, Leddy Hoffman, and myself. Leddy and Josie are both nurses specializing in wound care and foot care, so with their expertise and skills our services can expand beyond just the foot to address other health concerns people often have. Far from a simple pedicure, we specialize in fungal nail care, trimming nails too thick to get a drug store clipper through, and providing educational tips for diabetics on ways they can care for their feet to prevent diabetic foot ulcers/amputations. Everyone gets a free pair of socks and we integrate both conventional and herbal care into these services. Occasionally guests will gift out hand-made ribbon roses, origami dollar bill rings, and the post-service dance or “I feel like I'm walking on a cloud now” remarks, are all a bonus. Street Feet LA is inspired by several of my foot and herb mentors over the years including Laura Roehrick who’s been a foot nurse for 30 years, Lorna Mauney-Brodek, 7Song, and the late great Karan Founds-Benton who first trained me in foot care and was the lead person and organizer of the LA Catholic Worker foot care day for many years.

Anything else we should know?

I’m working on creating an Herbal Medicine Video Database (the HMVDB), documenting and highlighting traditions of herbal medicine practiced around the globe. It’s a big passion project, I film videos here and there when I get the chance to travel. So far there are probably around 30 videos, mostly unedited on my hard drive and some on a YouTube channel.

EVERYBODY.WORLD BY ABBE FINDLEY

Where did your journey toward herbalism begin?

I grew up on a farm in Missouri, while herbs weren’t a part of my childhood in any way other than via Ricola cough drops, hot cocoa, coffee, and iced tea, I do think the farm life has had some influence on my interest in the natural world. There was gardening and foraging for wild berries and mushrooms which I still enjoy the memories of today.

Abbe Findley

When did herbs start to play a central role in your life?

I’d say I fell into herbalism in my early 20’s after finishing art school and moving back home to live on the farm near my family. It began with an interest in cooking and gardening, then over time I sort of fell in love with herbs. I didn’t fall in love, I became OBSESSED! So obsessed, I stopped reading fiction because all I could read were books on plants. I used to tell people I felt hijacked from the plant kingdom, it’s loosened its hold on me over the years. Fiction is back. Now I’m obsessed with graphic design and formulating products, which has led me down new paths of study.

What is it about herbal medicine that you're most enamored by?

It's a fascinating field of study, practice, and slice of human history. Traditional herbalism is used, practiced, and incorporated into daily life all over the world by pretty much every culture that’s ever lived and/or currently lives even remotely close to a plant or mushroom. It’s such an integral part of our human experience here on earth, so integral to daily life, we barely realize it. When you stop and think about it, most of our human pleasures and comforts in life are derived from plants in some capacity or are near adjacent to them! Fresh fruit, vegetables, coffee, culinary herbs, tea, booze, drugs, chamomile tea, a lot of over-the-counter medications, and skin care products still use some medicinal plants in their formulas and have for decades. I love thinking about this, in many ways herbal medicine feels so disconnected from modern life in America but at the same time, when you look deeper, it’s still so present. Maybe under the guise of something else other than what one might think it is.