Orchard Street is well-known as a self-care haven in the heart of North Bondi. Kirsten Shanks, the founder of Orchard Street – and also a naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist – is somewhat ethereal, softly-spoken and brimming with knowledge she loves to share.
Photography by Will Braden.
What was the inspiration behind Orchard Street?
"Orchard Street was in my mind’s eye for over 10 years before it came into existence. I am a big believer in the power of manifestation, and not necessarily in any esoteric sense. In order to bring your dreams to life, into fruition, it is essential to have a strong vision of what these dreams are, from the way they look and feel, to the way your life will be once they are your reality. There will be details to contend with along the way but you have a direction - ultimately you just keep moving towards the vision and with some hard work, everything will fall into place."
"So for me, the dreams had been weaving themselves together, evolving with my passion for sharing wellness over many years - I could see and feel the stores, my philosophy was clear, I knew there would be teas, elixirs and alchemical potions - but I just didn’t have the exact platform refined."
"I was in New York in 2012, living on Orchard Street in lower Manhattan, and I found myself in a cold-pressed juice bar. It was one of those crystal clear moments when my passion aligned with a purpose; to share the experience of wellness through a holistic juice cleanse offering. I haven’t questioned or faltered in the direction of Orchard Street since that moment."
You’ve long subscribed to the idea of wellness, tell us a little bit about your background in naturopathy and nutrition:
"Being a Naturopath is a part of my identity. Part of what I’ve lived and breathed since I began my studies at the age of 19."
"Nutritional and herbal knowledge has brilliant everyday applications. Every meal is an opportunity to harness the benefits of ‘food as medicine’ in any number of delightful combinations. I’m particularly fond of the therapeutic benefits of botanicals to energise a morning smoothie or make a soothing evening elixir."
"Inspiring others to embrace the use of plant medicine has been a driving force in the creative process for the Orchard Street product ranges and in store experiences through our Elixir Bars."
What is your wellness philosophy:
"Self awareness. In yoga there is a term svadhyaya; which translates to ‘self-study’ or ‘one’s own reading’. Only as we begin to pay attention to our state of being, developing a kind and gentle self-awareness, can we recognise our individuality and choose what serves us best."
"We can become caught up in what others are doing and lose touch with how our own bodies and minds are truly feeling and responding to the choices we are making every day."
"To me there is no purism or strict dietary or spiritual doctrines. I’ve explored those, taken the bits and pieces that work well for me and settled on a balanced, naturally healthy way of life."
"Meditation and yoga have been an essential part of my life since my late teens, and cultivating present moment awareness is it the core of these practises. It’s that presence that pulls you back, again and again, into your body, your breath, your state of being."
"There is no one way to wellness, but the one that comes from a place of self-love."
What is your go-to juice at the moment?
"Green Fields, one of my first recipes: An organic, cold-pressed mix of celery, cucumber, broccoli, spinach, cos lettuce, lemon, parsley & dandelion."
"With almost 1.5kg of organic green vegetables and herbs in each bottle, drinking this each morning feels like my daily return to homeostasis."
You are based by the beach, what is it that draws you towards the seaside locations?
"I grew up beside the ocean in Borneo and spent my teenage years on a rural vineyard in New Zealand. Being surrounded by nature was always part of my life. While Sydney offers so much vibrancy, opportunity and a rich community it is also an incredibly busy city. The stress this can create is almost tangible in the air. While conscious lifestyle practises can enable us to retain a sense of calm, there is nothing like the embrace of nature as you feel the ocean breeze on your skin or dive into the early morning swell to restore you to that sweet spot of natural balance."
What is your favourite summer memory?
"My family was based in a little ex-pat village in Sarawak, Borneo from when I was two through to age nine. Our house sat where the jungle met the ocean, and so I spent my days literally between these two beautiful natural playgrounds."
"It’s a blur of summer memories; building forts in the jungle, falling asleep to the sound of monkeys calls, makeshift boats to ‘row’ around our house in monsoon, dancing in the phosphorescence in the waves under moonlight…"
How would you describe an Australian summer and how is it different from anywhere else in the world?
"Summer is the natural way of things here. Winter, all month or so of it, seems to serve merely as a transition from one summer to the next."
"Bondi Beach becomes a vibrant melting pot of the epitomal Australian experience; slow, relaxed, unabashed, neighbourly, free."
"I love the way the intense summer heat forces the pace of this city down a notch. It’s hard to keep up a frenetic rush under the sweltering sun."
What are your wellness tips for summer:
"Hydrate. Hydrate your body, hydrate your skin."
"The classic recommendation to drink eight glasses of water a day may have disappeared from the wellness scene with bircher muesli, but the advice remains the same. Drink more water."
"Make it into a herbal tea, add a splash of lemon or apple juice, a drop of peppermint essential oil, a dose of chlorophyll, a teaspoon of charcoal, a few bubbles from the soda stream"
Would you share a favourite summer recipe:
Iced Bliss Mocha
"Our take on an iced coffee weaves in the nourishment of coconut milk and magnesium rich cacao with the supportive herbal properties of our Bliss Elixir Powder; easing off the adrenal edge of caffeine while providing uplifting and sustaining energy to elevate your experience of wellness as you start the summer days."
300ml coconut milk
1 shot espresso coffee
1 tbsp cacao
1/2 tsp Orchard Street Bliss Elixir Powder
1/2 tsp Orchard Street Reishi Mushroom Powder
2 medjool dates
1/2 cup ice
Add all ingredients to a blender.
Blend till smooth.