Hall Newbegin of Juniper Ridge, California

Hall Newbegin, Founder of Juniper Ridge, shares his story

What do you do when nothing smells better than the forest? You bottle it up and bring it home – and that’s exactly what Juniper Ridge, a California-based wilderness fragrance company does – with the utmost sensitivity for nature.

Hall Newbegin founded Juniper Ridge in 1998 and almost two decades later, the company is flourishing and offers a range of all-natural essential oils, incense, body wash, smudge sticks, tea and more. We asked Hall to share the story of how Juniper Ridge was conceived. Very quickly, it was obvious – he has a very special love for nature.

Here’s what he had to say.

I didn’t have a business plan or philosophy or anything when I started my business. I didn’t envision a fully-fledged plan, I just wanted to make something beautiful. I had my truck, clippers, a copy of Jepson’s Guide to California Plants and I just spent time out there learning. Smelling, crawling around on the ground and sticking my nose in the dirt.

There were so many different teachers who took me under their wings and started teaching me about the plants. I’ve never been very good at the Marketing/Business side of the industry.

For me, it’s all about the plants, the places and that quiet feeling that I get when I’m out on the trail.

That’s the germinal idea that inspired the beginning of Juniper Ridge; that rich quietness that descends on you after you’ve been out backpacking for two or three days – I live for that feeling.

I’ve spent my entire adult life learning about plants and places. I dabbled in some medicinal herb classes but found the classroom setting a little inappropriate given the material. I wanted to be out there.

I spent my twenties learning plant names and wild mushrooms, learning about harvesting from various teachers and fellow wilderness junkies. I spent my thirties working with plants and getting more intimate, and now, well, it keeps getting deeper and more interesting.

I feel like nature is this giant book and I’m only about halfway through the first chapter.

Hall Newbegin of Juniper Ridge in nature

Developing intuition and our animal senses

It feels like, the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. I’m really into paying attention to my intuition when I’m out there now, if my nose is telling me “wild bolete mushrooms,” I dive off trail and start looking. I don’t know if it’s something I smelled or some kind of primitive hunter-gatherer thing I’ve awakened, I just know my instincts. I’m just really interested in developing that intuition.

We’re animals and we see nature with our noses. The things we’re putting in that bottle, well, people can’t help but be taken someplace. You’re going to have a deep emotional response to some of the things we make.

Sometimes I stick my nose into an old rotting log, a patch of wet soil, or a handful of redwood and I start breathing it in and, I don’t know, I just can’t get enough of it and it starts to make me feel really good. This can lead to awkward scenarios on the trail when I’m laying on the ground with my face in the dirt moaning in ecstasy!

We’re animals, all of us – it’s the easiest thing to forget- we’re animals and we see nature through our noses.

Enjoying “scent” doesn’t just belong to me, or the 12 folks who work here, or the handful of perfume noses in the world, or the best chefs. It belongs to all of us. It’s our heritage as humans. “Scent” doesn’t happen only at a department store perfume counter, it happens when you’re eating, drinking wine, beer or coffee, gardening, and hiking.

Please do pay attention. Your nose has so much to give you. It’s given me so much pleasure in my life, it’s just such a rich world and it’s there for all of us.

View the products Hall and his team have created.