We had the good fortune of connecting with Anne Louise Burdett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anne Louise, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I have always been a very independent person and excited to find the places where interesting or unexpected intersections happen. I had been working full time at an amazing non-profit & community farm, running the education programs and teaching herbalism courses amongst other responsibilities. On the side I was running my low cost herbal clinic. It became too exhausting to basically have two full time jobs, so I decided to head out on my own and start my own business as a clinical herbalist. This clinical model quickly took a strong focus in sexual and reproductive health and trauma. I found more and more that these areas were often neglected in other healthcare modalities, and were very reflective and essential in understanding and building an overall state of heath ad wellbeing. So this led me to co-found my second business, TOCA. We make sexual health products (intimate oils) with botanical formulations and high potency CBD, with an educational component as well. I created this business because it really felt like there was nothing out there at the quality that I wanted to see, and with the therapeutic potential that I knew I could develop. I wanted to invest my labor and my experience into a devotional practice of increasing pleasure in the world, releasing trauma, reducing chronic pain and facilitating the ability to fully experience ones deepest desires and passion.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My story is a little bit unique in that many different interests converged in a really exciting way and made this perfect union for TOCA to be born. I have been a plant enthusiast and botanical nerd for at least 20 years. I’ve been farming for that long, and studying or working in herbalism for about 18 years. I also began my studies in sexual and reproductive healthcare about that long ago and became a DOULA, childbirth educator and pre-natal yoga teacher. I continued farming and started my clinical practice about 10 years ago. In the meantime I began studies in Somatic Experiencing to learn trauma counseling, and I became a certified sex educator and curriculum developer. I now write curriculum as part of a collective, LET’s, and we also train teachers and other adults in how to use our curriculum with youth. I offer sexual health counseling, teach adults about sex, plants and resilience and I run my herbal clinic. I am also an artist, I have been part of a performance company for also about 18 years, (a lot of projects started a long time ago and have had amazing longevity in my life!), and I make work and perform every year for part of the year. Additionally I co-created another business call The Dirt Gems, in which a dear friend of mine, Chelsea Granger, and I, made a plant tarot deck and guidebook that is now for sale. All of these projects inform my work with TOCA. TOCA is a therapeutic, pleasure based, trauma informed, art practice that exists to focus on pleasure as a major vehicle for change, transformation, and personal as well as collective wellbeing.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am pretty new to Miami so I need suggestions as well! My favorite places are nature based, Matheson Hammock, Crandon Park beach, exploring the mangroves and coastlines, and paddling around in kayaks or paddle boards in the bay. Also probably my favorite place in Miami at the moment is The Center for Subtropical Affairs, there are such great events there and it’s also just a lovely place to hang out. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many amazing people that deserve shoutouts! Collaborators: Mauricio Abascal, Chelsea Granger, Christian Toscano, Mira Weil, Aneliese Apala, Aiyana Masla. Caty Crabb- a long time friend and mentor in my herbalism studies. The Royal Frog Ballet, my long time performance collective colleagues. Guanina Cotto, friend and erotic artist that I adore!
Instagram: @tocabotanica, @thedirtgems, @letsexed
Facebook: @tocabotanica, @thedirtgems