Orchard St, North Bondi. Australia.

Sydney's Bondi Beach continues to build a wonderful reputation for health, wellbeing and great eats. Orchard St Dispensary sits highly amongst them - a positively wholesome and soulful little nook. We speak to founder, Kirsten Shanks.

Kirsten, you have created something here at Orchard St which I am sure many would love to be a part of. Housed in a gorgeous light filled corner shop, marked with a giant number two on the door, the new store feels like a lovely sanctuary where you can escape into a calm space and feel nourished. Tell us how this concept came about…

Thank you Julz, I’m so happy to hear such positive feedback about the space! I suppose we set out to create somewhere that inspired and celebrated a healthy lifestyle, and to do it in an approachable way. To create a nourishing sanctuary was the vision for The Elixir Bar. I also needed somewhere to sell all the amazing raw food meals and snacks my chefs and I had been playing around with for the ‘Nourish Cleanse’, but that’s another story.

A space like this has been a dream from the beginning of Orchard Street and I knew we’d bring it to fruition somehow. I’m really pleased with how it’s come to life and we’ve been incredibly blessed that it has been well received.

Such a huge part of my philosophy when it comes to health is balance, trying never to preach purity, but the fact that it is absolutely possible to experience true wellness without hiding in a mountain cave.

As we did with the Dispensary over in Bronte, we worked very closely with some carpenter friends on the design and build of the shop, which I think is important to feel truly connected to the space. Check out Andy McDonnel Design, he has worked some real magic here with Rose Gum and Copper.

It is evident that both yourself and all your staff are extremely “in the know” about the nutritional and medicinal benefits of all your products. Tell us about your personal studies and back-ground which lead you on this successful path?

I was 19 and a Kiwi fresh off the boat in Sydney Having just met my future fiancé, I realised I was going to stick around for a bit, and I was pondering university courses when I stumbled across a Nature Care course booklet in a lovely little shop in Surry Hills. Naturopathy was something I had never considered before that point, but from the moment I read the course outline I have never looked back. Naturopathic medicine encompasses the sciences, the natural world and sociological studies all of which fascinate me.

I want everything Orchard Street offers to be an opportunity to experience wellness in a clean, organic and delicious way. People who share that passion for wellbeing have a way of showing up, and we’ve got a lovely team around us.

Which products are new and unique to the North Bondi store?

Everything we do is rooted in the concept of ‘food as medicine’, and in the Bondi space we’ve introduced an Organic Raw Food range, packaged up and ready to be picked up en route to work, or for those more fortunate, the beach.

The ‘Milk Bar’ range offers a hot drinks menu of pressed nut milks, such as macadamia-coconut, almond or cashew combined with different delicious herbal blends. A local favourite is the Mayan Lover – a cacao based blend with libido boosting herbs, or the Bush Dandy – a liver supporting dandelion root base with wattle seed, chicory and burdock.

The hot elixirs pair very well with a range of raw cakes and sweets we’ve been perfecting, including a Salted Caramel & Holy Basil Slice and our Love Cake – a delicate berry ‘cheesecake’ infused with lavender, rose and cardamom.

I do know you and your lovely partner James spent many years in New York and you are originally from New Zealand how and where do you two meet and connect? and how did this common goal come to fruition?

James and I have been on an incredible journey together for the last 12 years. Between us we find the vision, the framework and the momentum to keep Orchard St. flowing in the direction of our dreams.

We were actually living on Orchard Street in lower Manhattan when the inspiration came to develop the juice cleanse concept in a holistic and supportive way on Aussie shores. The process of conceptualising and developing Orchard Street was a long one, and during that time James continued to work as a copywriter, supporting me to get it off the ground. About 6 months after launching, he left his advertising career to become my business partner. As well as, you know, my life partner.

James grounds and centres me, honours my dreams but also provides a realistic perspective I can sometimes overlook.

Home is our sanctuary, but also a workplace, so we have to be constantly mindful to keep our work-life balance in check. Being in business together does have its challenges but the love and respect that it fosters far surpass these.

Do you feel your experiences of travel and exploring other cultures have been an inspiration to your work along the way?

Yes, more than I initially realised. I set off travelling not long after finishing my Naturopathic studies and with a freshly inspired and permeable mind these years travelling made an imprint that shaped the practitioner I now am and the nature of Orchard Street. In travelling we find a common thread between us, a connection.

We all seek health, vitality and happiness and in our own ways we incorporate practises into our lives to reach these goals. Alongside this however you see the concept of individuality – that one diet, lifestyle or practise does not suit each one of us.. we have to tune into our own bodies, to find our own path. Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Practises resonate strongly with these teachings.

Do you source the majority of ingredients locally or abroad. For example the turmeric you find in the detoxing juices?

Locally whenever possible. As we aim to be 100% organic it can be tricky sometimes to locally source everything we need for the recipes at all times of year. The turmeric usually comes from a farm in northern NSW, the wild greens from a central coast property and the bush foods are sourced from communities across Australia.

Perhaps now with third Orchard St store open in Paddington (the first store is located nearby in Bronte) and on the eve of a beautiful and busy summer to come – your next holiday may have to have a focus on restoration and rejuvenation, any thoughts on the next well deserved escape?

We have been dreaming of a few days off, mostly just to chill but also to get a different perspective on the business and reflect on the last couple of years’ craziness. A couple of days camping up or down the coast is our go-to mini-escape. In January got married on my family farm in New Zealand.  We’re also planning our honeymoon for later in the year – a month in Sri Lanka riding a motorbike through tea plantations, greeting sunrises on white coastlines and immersing ourselves in a beautiful culture…. And each other 😉

A beautiful lady with a wonderful and cleaver company, see more here at their gorgeous website. All imagery by Jeremy Shaw

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