Every Friday, we send out a weekly roundup of what’s new on Blood & Milk along with articles you may have missed from the archives. We also include an interview with an inspiring woman, and this week we’re excited to feature Morgan McLachlan To get the newsletter, sign up here.
Morgan McLachlan is the co-founder, master distiller, and CPO of AMASS. From botanical spirits to body care products, AMASS makes clean botanics for modern life.
I love AMASS’s gorgeous branding and it’s clear that your passion for botany is the thread through all of the products. But at first glance, they can seem disparate—you offer spirits in addition to personal care items. Which came first? Can you share a bit more about your products and the thread(s) that run through them?
While we first began by offering a Dry Gin and Botanic Vodka, we’ve always felt that our core values of quality, storytelling, and community were not limited to alcohol. That’s why we make clean botanics for both social and self-care rituals.
We started making hand sanitizer mid-March after I struggled to find sanitizer in stores to protect myself while I was pregnant. Thankfully, my background in both botanicals and spirits was the perfect foundation to begin making my own.
Since then, we’ve launched three signature scents and expanded our personal care portfolio to include botanic soap, lotion, candles, and bath salts. Like our spirits, our personal care products are made with natural botanical extracts for a brief sensory ritual. They were designed with moments of self-care in mind, whether you’re washing your hands, taking a bath, or lighting a candle.
On the beverage side of the business, we now have a non-alcoholic spirit, Riverine, as well as a line of botanic hard seltzers and a forthcoming cannabis spirit.
AMASS is reinventing social and self-care rituals to build a portfolio of botanically different beverages and self-care products for the modern consumer. Consumers’ understanding of health has evolved from an annual conversation with your doctor about diet and exercise to a holistic lifestyle of daily mental and physical wellness choices. By incorporating botanics in our products, we’re adding something unique and exciting to a saturated market.
On the AMASS website, you mention that what drew you to distilling in the first place was “transforming botanicals into a conduit for ritual and connection.” Obviously, 2020 was a year pretty devoid of ritual and connection, but those are clearly things that are important to you (and our audience!). How have you maintained a semblance of ritual and connection in your life, even in a year where socializing and normality has been so limited?
One of my greatest lessons and tips for anyone lately is to be gentle with yourself. This year, I’ve certainly felt that with my limited bandwidth, I’ve been a bad friend. There are a lot of friends that I just haven’t been able to have the usual connection with, because I’ve been so busy with work and the baby. My hope is that soon I will have a little more time to connect with my friends, which obviously I used to do a lot more in the evenings. You can’t be too hard on yourself though – we’re all just doing the best we can.
In addition to running AMASS, you’re a new mom—congratulations!—what has been the most surprising thing about new motherhood?
Because I’m both working and taking care of Arthur, I have less than an hour to myself every day. I find that lately I have only had time to connect to my immediate family. In the evenings, my partner comes home, and I love watching him and Arthur play together. It’s sort of our only time together as a family, so that’s really nice. I love bedtime with Arthur – playing with him in the evening is really special. It’s crazy having a kid, but they teach you how to be present.
How have you found moments or opportunities for new rituals as a new mom?
At AMASS, we’re producing so many new products right now that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Having a kid has taught me how to slow down and be present.
After I put Arthur to bed, I’ve been enjoying doing more focused research in the evenings when I’m not distracted by Slack or the baby or meetings. I’ll be reading books that are tangentially related to what we’re working on. A recent favorite was The Way We Lived, a first person aural account from the indigenous people of California about what life was like, from pre-colonization through colonization to now. That was a really interesting book for me since I have an interest in indigenous plants.
Before I fall asleep, I do a little meditation that’s a combination of different styles of meditation that I developed for myself. I’ve been doing it for about 20 years now. It’s a personal thing, but it centers and grounds me. I usually fall asleep during it because I’m so exhausted [laughs]. I’m also a big fan of adaptogens, so I sometimes use a combination of light relaxing herbs to go to sleep: lately it has been a combination of passion flower, l-theanine derived from green tea, and ashwagandha. It’s not exciting, but it’s what my evenings look like. It’s all just in a condensed amount of time, because I have a yelling, screaming baby.
You’re running a business and navigating new motherhood while the world is still fairly shut down—how are you making time for yourself, and what does self care look like for you these days?
Between being a new mom and working full time, I don’t exactly have a lot of bandwidth for some of the old ways that I used to care for myself, and I do work in the evenings after my baby goes to sleep. By great providence, however, a lot of my favorite simple self-care rituals could be categorized as work, and vice versa.
Anytime I develop a product, I try to experience a good expanse of products that are in the market in that particular category, as well as road-testing products and concoctions that I have in development.
To me, experiencing and analyzing different personal care products, and also properly enjoying food and beverages (like, actually tasting their flavor profiles), is an act of mindfulness.
Do you have a go-to spirit + personal care AMASS combo for deep relaxation and self care?
My alcohol tolerance has gone way down since having a baby, so I’ve been drinking a lot of Collins-style cocktails with Riverine, our new non-alcoholic spirit. I feel like my natural habitat is a hot tub – these days, I’ve been taking a lot of baths with our Forest Bath Salts while drinking Riverine. That is sort of my peak relaxation experience. Both products are inspired by my home province of British Columbia, so enjoying them together really feels like going home.