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The Forecast is Summersalt’s global content hub for all things travel, packing, style, and discovery, packed with informative and inspirational pieces for (and featuring!) women who are going places.

Jana Blankenship Finds Natural Beauty Wherever She Is

Gabrielle Kirlew

As a child, Jana Blankenship loved experimenting with plants. “I was the kid who was outside infusing pine needles and roses in water and making potions,” she recalled. At an early age, she developed a severe sensitivity to synthetic fragrances, which to this day give her headaches. After moving to Northern California, she stumbled upon a natural perfume shop, which piqued her interest in natural, plant-based beauty products and eventually led her to start Captain Blankenship. The certified B-corp company offers luxurious hair and skin care products at an excellent price point that are healthy for both their customers and the planet. On top of “captaining” her company, Jana is the author of Wild Beauty, a guide to clean beauty, that will be released later this month. Read on to learn more about Jana and her exciting travels.

What inspired you to launch Captain Blankenship?

One day I wandered into a friend’s store in North Berkeley and saw this beautiful silver compact of solid perfume. It smelled of fresh jasmine, blood orange, and grapefruit, like the hills behind me. I found out it was a natural perfume made by local perfumer Mandy Aftel. I was so fascinated. I started studying natural perfumery and took a class with Mandy and didn’t look back. I had discovered this rich, natural palette to work with that was powerful, experiential, and invisible. Scent is our first sense to develop in the womb, but the most overlooked. It felt so exciting and still does to be able to work with such amazing raw materials that are so evocative. Captain Blankenship grew out of my desire to create simple but effective plant based beauty products with lush and experiential essential oil based scents.

What do you find most rewarding?

It still makes my day when we get a great review or I hear from a customer who is enjoying our products. It makes me so happy that these products that I believe in become a beloved part of people’s rituals. That makes all the hard work worth it.

What are you most proud of?

My children, Mila and Caspian. They are funny, loving, creative, passionate little spirits.

What was the best AND the worst business decision you ever made?

The best decision I made was to start the company. I had another career and this passion project grew on the side until I decided to trust my instincts and start a business. I’m so glad I did. The worst decision I made was to rush into a manufacturing partner as we began to scale up. I had started the business in my kitchen and everyone kept telling me how hard it was to find a manufacturer you can really trust, especially when you have been making your products by hand. I learned the lesson the hard way, but it led us to a great certified organic manufacturing partner.

Image Courtesy of Jana Blankenship

Let’s talk about “going places.” What’s on the horizon for you?

My first book, Wild Beauty, comes out July 23rd. I am so excited for it to be in the world. Wild Beauty is a personal, practical, and sensorial guide to clean beauty full of anecdotes, tips and recipes to help you integrate plant based ingredients into your beauty and wellness rituals.

Tell us about the last adventure you took:

To one of my favorite places on earth, Manka’s Inverness Lodge in Inverness, CA. The cabins at Manka’s are rustic but decadent and it is the most peaceful place I could imagine. I love to sit on the deck, shrouded in mist looking out at the forest with hawks circling above. My husband and I went for his birthday and got to hike in Point Reyes National Seashore. We lived in the Bay Area for seven years and this is a place we have been returning to for a long time. If you go, hike the Tomales Point Trail to see Tule Elk and breathtaking and expansive views of the hills and the ocean.

What is a destination you’ve been to that you’re always telling people, “You have to go there!” 

Northern Maine. I have gone to the town of Sorrento, ME every summer of my life and it is still the place that I most look forward to traveling to. It is so wildly beautiful and peaceful. I spent summers running barefoot through the woods there and it is such a joy to see my children doing the same. I love to hike in Acadia National Park and swim in the cold water. It is medicine for my mind, body and spirit.

Image Courtesy of Jana Blankenship

What do you never travel without?

A vial of natural perfume to lift my spirits and lip balm.

Got any great advice for solo travelers?

Listen to your intuition. Traveling solo is an incredible opportunity to listen to your heart and let it lead you to unexpected places.

Fill in the blank. I fell in love with traveling when:

I was young! My parents took me and my brother everywhere. One of my first memories is being on a boat in Greece. My love of travel was definitely cultivated in childhood. One of my first memories is of being on a boat in Greece. I would like to be back on that boat!

What’s your favorite Summersalt travel piece?

I am over the moon for the classic high rise bottom and plunge bikini top in seaweed.

Got any go-to podcasts, albums, or books for passing time on a plane?

I love listening to the On Being podcast and Le Vital Corps, which interviews radical women. I am just about to finish a book called Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, that is a beautiful love song to nature and perfect summer read. I am loving listening to the band Khruangbin while traveling, its very mellow and groovy.

Share your most valuable travel hack:

I always bring a multipurpose hand balm/lip balm in my purse as my skin always gets so dry when traveling, I’ll also use it on my face. I also always bring a travel size of either of our Sea Mineral Castile Soaps in my bag to avoid using the bubblegum pink or blue soaps in most bathrooms.