In today’s modern society, it’s much more common to find workshops teaching Instagram skills than those on how to milk a cow or bake bread from scratch—which is not surprising given our digitally-focused fast-paced world. These days, teachings of the more “traditional” life skills of generations past, like those that allow one to live off the land and be self-sufficient, are a bit harder to come by.
For friends Emma Moore, Lauren Malloy and Ashley Moore, recognizing a void in today’s modern society for traditional nostalgic skills prompted them to launch Women’s Heritage, a collaborative project that encourages bringing traditional homesteading wisdom into everyday life.
While on a trip to the Sierra Mountains in 2016, these three Santa Barbara women started a discussion about traditional folk knowledge, inspired by the homemade bread and pesto Emma brought to share. Realizing each possessed a different skill set that the others wanted to learn—between Ashley’s experience with herbalism and plant medicine, Lauren’s insights on animal science and Emma’s expertise in the kitchen—they decided to find a way to bring those elements together, not only for their own benefit, but to help other women, as well. Thus, in 2016, Women’s Heritage was born.
The first workshop offered by Women’s Heritage taught hands-on skills for baking sourdough bread from scratch. Right from the start, the response from the community was strong. “When the first event sold out in minutes, we knew we were onto something,” shares Emma, who leads the food-related workshops. “Our goal is to inspire women to pick up a new skill or hone in on a skill they had before, but most importantly, we want to create a sense of community and encourage a feeling of sisterhood.”
Lauren adds, “Teaching, learning, sharing and growing in sisterhood are all pillars of why we started our business, and we’re thrilled that our vision of bringing women together has appealed to those in our area.”
Today, monthly workshops are held throughout the Santa Barbara area, and the momentum has stayed strong. Offering a variety of sold-out workshops around a diverse set of skills used by generations past, the ladies help women learn things like how to weld; milk a cow and make kefir cheese; forage for edible plants to use in recipes; and ferment vegetables, fruits and beverages.
Shares Emma, “What was once passed down from generation to generation has been lost, so I love that we can help reconnect women to these more traditional, slower pace of life skills and hopefully appreciate the process even if they decide not to use the skill after the workshop.”
Last year, Women’s Heritage launched its own line of skincare products, using local herbs and plants to craft natural face serums and hand salves inspired by Ashley’s experience as an herbalist. They’ve also expanded their offerings to include private events and, more recently, opened up their first brick-and-mortar country store in Carpinteria, Heritage Goods and Supply.
Offering a curated collection of artisan products, specialty books and supplies for such things as canning, beekeeping and gardening, the three are excited to have a different avenue for sharing with the community.
“One of the things we love most about Women’s Heritage is the growing community and friendship,” says Ashley. “We hope the country store broadens that feeling of community, and it won’t be just for women. It’s a store for everyone—men, women and children.”
Sure, anyone can walk into a bakery and buy a loaf of bread, but for the ladies of Women’s Heritage, the goal has been to inspire modern women to discover new passions and reinforce the importance of slow-living ideals. “It’s hard to carve out time to learn a new skill in our fast-paced society,” says Emma, “but we hope to inspire other women by making traditional living more accessible for the everyday home.”
This story was originally published in the Winter 2017-18 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.