Wednesday, April 1, 2015


makers + movers is a series that feature makers of clean products of integrity, thought, + passion which then move the world towards a higher consciousness . . .

 have admired the work of Mirjana Blankenship for quite some time now. I first came across her beautiful + whimsically-designed skincare line at an Urban Outfitters, immediately drawn to its marine elements. I grew up by the sea, so her line made quite the splash in my heart sick for the Mediterranean air. My hair + soul was drenched in sea salt as a child, which were both breaking at the ends when I reached for Captain Blankenship's Mermaid Sea Salt Hairspray. This tricked [in all senses of the word] my hair into a return to the beach + fooled my childish heart into realising its dreams of being a mermaid.

So, when I recently tried the other products in the line, I was in Little Mermaid territory. The perfumes are earthy + made me feel like a magical siren. They took me on a Proustian trip, back to my childhood at my grandparents' summer house by the sea, where I would dive in and out of the waters pretending to be a mermaid. The lip balm + hair oil topped that vision off by giving me lustrous mermaid locks and cheeks with hues reminiscent of the sun-drenched rosy glow from a day of sand castle-building.

Away from the warmth + care of the sun, my skin was quite parched by the Northeastern weather. Despite my incessant oiling + sea-salt scrubbing, my hands were still aggressively dry. The Anchor balm has been the only moisturiser that has healed my hands while simultaneously lifting up my spirits with its Springtime scents. 

Here is the beautiful Mirjana of Captain Blankenship, who has taken my skin + soul on a journey . . .

Q: Tell us a little bit about you and what inspired you to start Captain Blankenship.
I live in town of Gardiner in the Hudson River Valley with my husband, little girl, cat and dog. We moved here from San Francisco 3 years ago. Both of us grew up on the east coast, so when it came time to start a family we wanted to move back near our own families. I started Captain Blankenship in 2009 when I was living in Berkeley and working full time as a curator. I had a growing interest in natural perfumery as I am allergic to synthetics. I also had developed sensitivities to the products I was using on my skin and started formulating my own in my kitchen with organic carrier oils and essential oils. I just kept falling deeper in love with the ingredients I was using and started taking classes and devouring books on natural perfumery. I studied with Mandy Aftel, which changed my life. I count her as a mentor and a constant source of inspiration. I kept developing new products and gave them to family and friends to try. People started encouraging me to start a business, which is something I had never dreamed of. It is 6 years later and I am pouring all my energy into this and still loving it.

Q: What inspired the name? 
My husband’s last name is Blankenship and when we got married my friend joked I was going to be the Captain of the Blankenship. It just stuck and when I started the business, I didn’t think twice about the name. I think it really gets to the heart of the integrity and spirit of adventure behind our products.

 Q: Do you have a ritual for making/applying your products?
For making products, I like to clear my mind and get to really focus on the ingredients I am working with. The materials I get to work with are so rich and sensuous, I like to be able to smell and enjoy them as I work. For applying them, I have a ritual in the morning and night of using my soon to be released Blue Chamomile & Lemon Makeup Remover & Oil Based Cleanser, followed by Aloe & Rose Toner and Rose & Pomegranate Face Oil. A few times a week I’ll mix it up with our Rosemary & Lemongrass Face & Body Scrub. I follow that with some Lime & Vetiver Cream Deodorant, Mermaid Dry Shampoo and Mermaid Sea Salt Hair Spray. I use our Anchor Balm all day long on my hands and lips.

Q: How long did it take for you to craft your products to the state it is in now? What was that experience like for you? 
I have been working on Captain Blankenship since 2009. In the beginning it was a hobby that I did for myself, family and friends while I worked full time as a curator in San Francisco. Slowly it started to take over my house and my life and I full realized this was what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until we moved to New York, 3 years ago that I quit my day job and devoted all my energy to Captain Blankenship. It was a huge leap of faith but I followed my instincts and it has been so rewarding. To get to make things that become a part of people’s lives and hopefully work a little magic for them has been incredibly fulfilling.

Q: When you are not working on your line, what else do you like to do?
I am a mom to 2-month-old Mila and am also pregnant with a second baby. When I am not chasing after Mila, I love to hike in the woods with our Siberian Husky Vuka, do yoga, and cook.

Q: What keeps you going? Do you have a daily routine or a mantra? 
I love where we live and that seems to make everything easier. Our house is very open and looks out on a river and the mountains. I am not a morning person but Mila sure is. When we wake up early in the morning and get to see the sunrise together and watch the birds coming to life down by the water (hawks, bald eagles, ducks, geese), it is just so beautiful. Getting to be surrounded by nature first thing makes the day feel full of possibility. The mantra I always come back to is “Grow the circle wider.”  It inspires me to try to not only grow my consciousness and openness but also realize the connectedness of everyone and everything. 

Q: What are some of your favorite snacks or foods that fuel your creative process? Being pregnant, I am constantly eating! I love making smoothies with banana, raw cacao, spirulina, berries and whatever else sounds good at the moment. I am always snacking on almonds and dried fruit. As soon as summer comes around, I am going to be eating as many strawberries as I possibly can. 

Q: Who or what is a source of inspiration for you? 
My mom. She was a fashion designer when I was growing up and has reinvented herself so many times. She always make me feel that everything is within our reach. She also just has so much energy. And nature is always my inspiration and source of constant wonder. It is what inspires my products and where they come from.

Q: What are your three staples for glowing health?  
Water (lots of it!), fruits and vegetables, sleep.

Q: What would be an ideal day for you? 
Getting to wake up rested and see the sunrise, cook a big breakfast of pancakes with fruit and eggs, take a big hike with my family and our dog, go for a swim in a waterfall and come home to make a big picnic dinner to eat outside as the sun sets. 

Q: What are three things currently on your nightstand? 
Our Avocado & Peppermint Cuticle and Foot Balm (use it on hands, lips and feet before bed), Adina Grigore’s Skin Cleanse, and a big glass of water. 

Q: Besides your divine products, what do you do or use to keep your skin beautiful? What is your beauty routine? 
I love Marie Veronique Organic’s Everyday Coverage Sunscreen. I use it everyday mixed with a little bit of our face oil.  I use our Blue Chamomile & Lemon Makeup Remover & Oil Based Cleanser (coming this spring!) to cleanse my skin morning and night. It is very gentle. I find most cleansers overdry my skin and this one hydrates it, leaving it soft and glowing. I will use our Rosemary & Lemongrass Sugar Scrub on my face and lips a few times a week and a mask twice a week (we have two different ones coming this spring!). And keep hydrated with tons of water! 

Q: What is your favourite indulgence? 
Dark chocolate and mint ice cream. I am not a big sweet person, but those two things always hit the spot.

Q: What are your go-to products in your holistic medicine cabinet? 
The four essential oils that I feel it is critical to have on hand for first aid and wellbeing are Lavender, Tea Tree, Peppermint and Helichrysum. This winter I bought local elderberry syrup that helped with colds and coughs and I always swear by fresh ginger, honey and lemon tea (with a little cayenne if you please).

Q: What is your next big vision for Captain Blankenship? 
I am constantly making new products. I just have so many ideas and the joy for me is in creating. I have a few new skincare products premiering this spring, but my big vision for the future is a Mama & Baby line. 

                 photos of Mirjana Blankenship courtesy of Rachel Barrett