What type of environment do you encounter when two creative entrepreneurial spirits join forces?

Driving through Arroyo Seco on an exceptional summer mid-morning I was looking forward to seeing the personal gardens of Andra and Ben Maddox. Ben is an ISA Certified Arborist who started his full-service tree care and landscaping business, Maddox Outdoor Solutions, in 2002.

Andra Maddox has a direct connection to the earth and finds interest in the medicinal properties of flowers and herbs. Ben provided their artistically designed landscape with waterfall features, a plush emerald green lawn, and fruit-bearing trees along with many raised planting beds. Andra soon filled those containments.

She planted various herbs like lemon balm and calendula, a marigold look-alike and member of the daisy family with cheerful yellow and orange flowers. Historically used for medicinal and culinary purposes, the petals were used in the past for yellow coloring in cheeses and butter. When used in stews or salads the petals add a spicy taste similar to saffron. A long time staple of British cottage gardens, this flowering herb is an annual that will readily reseed and is frost tolerant. In 2018 Andra's curious nature led her to take herbalism courses to learn more about the healing properties of her prolific calendula.

Andra Maddox learned her lovely crop of flowers was a plant that has been used for thousands of years for its regenerative and reparative properties. Calendula is known as a skin-mending plant dating back to the Aztecs. Romans used it to stop bleeding on the battlefields and grandmothers put it on the wounds of soldiers in World War II.

Andra researched the beauty products on the market to discover many already contained calendula as an ingredient.

"I wanted to create a skin care line that made calendula the number one ingredient, putting it front and center," she said.

Calendula has natural SPF 8 properties along with other inherently rich components. Calendula is full of carotenoids, one of the more potent antioxidants that are vital in halting signs of aging by reducing the appearance of wrinkles, age spots and the visibility of scars by increasing blood flow to the skin. The plant also is rich in flavonoids that act as an anti-inflammatory, and linoleic acid, a substance which the body does not make but must be obtained topically or through the diet to help activate natural collagen that hydrates and plumps the skin.

After learning more about the healing powerhouse properties of calendula, the duo expanded their growing area near the acequia. Andra went to work planting, tending, harvesting, drying and processing her flowers. She began infusing and distilling her gatherings into natural aloe vera, rose hip seed oil and sunflower seed oil.

In 2019 Andra Maddox launched Zia Botanics at the Taos Farmers Market with great success. She introduced Skin Support, Sensitive Skin Oil, formulated to improve hydration and relieve the sensitive, reactive dry skin many of us experience here in Taos. Later that season she created Everything Balm which provides deep moisture to dry skin, lips, cuticles or anything that needs soothing. All Zia Botanics are beneficial to skin conditions that are aggravated by extreme weather, sun exposure and wind burns.

With high aspirations, Maddox geared up for the 2020 season. But the COVID lockdown caused her to reevaluate her approach. She was forced to think bigger. She concentrated her efforts on her website, ZiaBotanics.com and social media by branding and marketing nationally. Andra began envisioning new products to develop.

In April of this year Andra launched her hydrating toner, Natural Ally. Created to hydrate and plump the skin by creating a protective moisture barrier, to decrease the appearance of lines and wrinkles with natural calendula and lavender based toner. I jumped at the opportunity to try a bottle of the serum.

As I was leaving the Maddox farm, the family, with their children Asher and Stella and two gleeful labs, were eagerly loading up for a weekend camping excursion.

The morning after my interview my skin was already smoother and softer from just one night's application. I put Natural Ally into my morning and evening routine. I'm excited to say my face looks fresher and less dry.

Andra Maddox's mission is to deliver the benefits of calendula from "seed to skin," limiting the number of other ingredients to six or less. There are no synthetic, chemical or artificial ingredients in Zia Botanics nor are there added fragrances or alcohol. Andra formulates her products to contain no less than 40 pure pure calendula. I am looking forward to seeing what new products Andra Maddox will create using the wonderful, healing properties of calendula.

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