Three-year-old Everest Johnson was excited about his potential gift haul this Christmas, as any child would be, and parents Michael and Maranda saw in their son’s eagerness a chance to explain the true meaning of the season. There is no receiving without giving, and they sat him down for a lesson in the value of selflessness.
Out of that conversation grew another opportunity for Michael and Maranda: to put the lesson on display. As owners of The Good Stuff Botanicals in Creston, the Johnsons had merchandise to share at their fingertips, so they began seeking out potential recipients. The husband-and-wife team makes and sells all-natural creams, oils, salves and other products for use on the face, lips, body and hair.
For the last several weeks, in the heart of the holiday giving season, the Johnsons have been distributing their Gypsy Cream around the valley, including to nursing homes where residents greatly appreciate it.
“A lot of (the residents) have terrible reactions to medications they’re on,” Maranda said, explaining the usefulness of her products, which can treat a wide range of skin conditions.
But the truth is, the Johnsons were already providing routine examples of selflessness long before their conversation with Everest, the oldest of their two boys. As a core philosophy, they frequently donate products to hospitals, birthing centers, veterans, fundraisers and others.
On Dec. 8, the Johnsons made a delivery to Kalispell’s Hearts and Hands Midwifery, a regular donation recipient, where low-income mothers are grateful to have access to free diaper rash creams that are proven to work. The Gypsy Cream is so effective, in fact, that the Kalispell Regional Medical Center NICU favors it over other products to treat diaper rashes.
Hearts and Hands itself is a bastion of generosity. The midwifery accepts anybody, regardless of ability to pay, catering to patients on Medicaid and others who are just above the income cutoff but still can’t afford the expenses of obstetrics and other services. The women’s health provider, owned by Honey Newton, also runs a donation program that accepts a wide range of necessities — including car seats, clothes and more — and transports them to Browning for distribution to families in need at Blackfeet Community Hospital.
“We like working with people like them who are always giving back to the community,” Michael said.
Maranda and Michael Johnson launched The Good Stuff Botanicals in 2012 in response to years of futile efforts to find an effective treatment for Michael’s psoriasis. After medications didn’t do the trick, they explored natural remedies and stumbled onto a Romanian Gypsy recipe. They tinkered with it until they found a formula that worked for Michael’s skin condition, giving birth to their Gypsy Cream, which is still the company’s cornerstone product.
The Good Stuff Botanicals uses raw and organic ingredients, sourced or harvested locally when possible, and never incorporates GMOs, sulfates, chemicals, parabens, dyes or fragrances. That strict adherence to natural materials extends to their bottles, which are glass and only use paper and linen labels, not plastic — “no funny stuff.”
Maranda and Michael serve every role at the company, from manufacturing through sales, spending long hours in their Creston workshop tinkering with ingredients, emulsifying and perfecting recipes. The company has tripled sales this year over last year and now has products in 100 stores nationwide, including the Huckleberry’s natural section at 16 Rosauers grocery stores and a number of local outlets, such as Sage & Cedar, Withey’s, Bigfork Drug, Montana Scene, Third Street Market and more.
The Johnsons hope to next secure land on which to build a shop and herb farm and eventually develop an eco-friendly retreat with yurts. In the meantime, they want to continue donating throughout the community and would like to hear suggestions for potential recipients. The Good Stuff Botanicals can be reached on its Facebook page or at www.thegoodstuffbotanicals.com.