Spotlight on Raine & River Apothecary
If you’ve taken a stroll down Grove Street recently, you may have noticed a new face on the block. On the corner of Grove and Wayne, Raine & River Apothecary’s glowing storefront beckons to people on the sidewalk, inviting curious passersby to step in and peruse the shelves.
At Raine & River, owner Natasha Bony has created a unique space that invites curiosity, exploration, and healing. We had the pleasure of speaking with her recently, and it was clear that she has a passion for her craft and the local community.
So, what is Raine & River?
ABOUT RAINE & RIVER
At its core, the shop is an herbal apothecary providing remedies including tinctures, salves, powders, and elixirs, made with herbs that Bony sources and prepares herself fresh on-site.
The shop also offers skincare products and candles, and a selection of metaphysical tools, including crystals, books, incense, and tarot cards.
Raine & River Apothecary truly has something for everyone – and that’s intentional.
When Bony decided to open her shop, she envisioned it would become a vital part of the community.
“I didn’t feel like there was anything like it [in Jersey City],” she said. “We have to have lots of these shops in communities where they are missing, [to] fill little holes and to fill gaps for people.”
But where did the inspiration for the apothecary begin? Well, the story starts with her childhood growing up in Trinidad.
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CHILDHOOD IN TRINIDAD
Bony learned about the importance of herbal remedies at a young age. Her parents came to America in the ‘70s to establish a life for the family in the States, so she lived with her grandfather and her aunt for years while growing up in Trinidad.
“As a kid – especially as a female in the island – you automatically became an herbalist. Because I was the one…preparing the bush tea for [my grandfather], and I would have to be going outside and picking the plants,” she shared. “In that way, I got to be really familiar with herbs. Also, we use herbs like we would drink water. It’s just like second nature to us.”
Neighbors often stopped by their house for help with remedies for one ailment or another. The backyard, where they grew fresh turmeric, was especially popular with local footballers who would visit after games for help creating poultices to aid with swelling.
Bony also recalls that they had a lime tree on their property, from which they would pick young lime buds to make a calming tea. Before she was allowed to pick the leaves, her grandfather would insist that she “wake up the tree” each evening and ask permission to do so.
This ritual taught her an admiration for the power of herbs and nature at a young age. She said, “it taught me that it wasn’t just a tree….I know herbs work, not just because of their actions. I feel like energetically, we vibrate at the same level. Once you extract the medicine from plants, it’s like the spirit of the plant. And then when that connects with our spirit, I feel that’s where the healing happens.”
MOVING TO AMERICA
Eventually, Natasha moved to America, landing in Brooklyn. Her driven nature is a constant theme in her life’s story, and her first job upon moving to the U.S. was no different.
Shortly after arriving, Natasha decided she wanted to join a gym but didn’t want to pay a membership fee. Although she had no fitness training experience, she struck an unconventional deal with the gym owner. He agreed that he would hire her if she passed the training to become a fitness instructor. Natasha promptly completed the certification and was hired.
That led to a chance meeting at the gym with the woman who would eventually become Bony’s mentor and inspiration. She soon began working at this woman’s health and wellness shop. The shop specialized in natural supplements and wellness products. It gave her experience working with clients using herbal remedies for lifestyle illnesses.
Bony credits her years here with giving her the knowledge needed to strike out on her own. “The amount of knowledge that I gained from her while working there – I couldn’t pay for it. I was able to shadow her; I was able to learn how to run a business,” she said.
While working at the shop, Natasha was always reading the labels on the supplements to make sure she knew what was in each product to explain to customers.
Eventually, she decided to formalize her studies by learning elements of Western herbal medicine, focusing on herbs available in the U.S. She studied plant medicine as an apprentice, and while she was studying, she started making her own products.
Her very first product was a men’s tonic. She had a regular customer who often had trouble finding tonic in stock, so she decided to make her own. It ended up becoming a best-selling product. In fact, it remains a best-seller to this day, where it’s still available at that original shop.
OPENING RAINE & RIVER
Before opening the location on Grove Street, Natasha grew her business online – but it was always her goal to open a physical storefront of her own.
While shipping orders out of her house, she decided to manifest her dream. She set up a room in her home to look like a shop, complete with shelves and jars lining the walls. She even used the old cash register that currently sits on her shop’s counter.
“I had to feel the energy of the shop, and feel like what I wanted it to be, or [what] I wanted to walk into every day. So I tried to create that,” she said.
Bony opened her shop during the pandemic in June 2021. With the real estate market booming, Bony found the listing and sent it to her realtor, who advised that they could take a look, but there were many people also looking at the space.
But after touring the store, the landlord ended up renting to Bony. In a full-circle moment, it turns out that the original store in the space when the landlord purchased the building years ago was a botanica. Now it’s home to a new generation of herbal healing.
When designing the shop, Natasha was sure to incorporate elements that reminded her of growing up in the islands, using different shades of white to create an airy, calming environment. “I feel like that’s the happiest time of my life, and sometimes my spirit is still there,” she said.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Natasha also shared with us the inspiration for how she named the apothecary. “Raine is my daughter, and River – I always said if I had another child, I would call him or her River. I’m Pisces. It’s water. It’s purification,” she said. “But then, my apothecary became my other child, so it just fits.”
ABOUT THE PRODUCTS
Inside Raine & River, customers can find products for almost every purpose, including nutritional supplements, sleep aids, fertility elixirs, detox formulas, tinctures to help with everything from diabetic support to brain fog to boosting immunity and more.
Natasha listens to her customers to find out their needs to create products that people can incorporate into their daily lives.
Of her products, she said: “I wanted people to know that they could get simple, traditional, effective herbal medicine, but with a high-end vibe. I don’t really make a lot of whimsical medicine. The herbs and the medicines that I make are really practical.”
And while most of the products are set formulas, she’s also happy to whip up a custom tea blend in the store for a customer looking for something specific.
She also takes the time to write descriptions of each product on the labels because she wants customers to feel empowered when they come into the shop. Bony views her role as someone there to make suggestions and provide guidance but wants customers to connect with items that speak to them as they browse.
In addition to the herbal remedies, there’s a section of the shop dedicated to metaphysical items, including candles, tarot cards, books, and more. She also partners with a tarot card reader who is present on weekends to provide tarot and astrological birth chart readings. There are plans to host workshops as well, so keep an eye on Raine & River’s social media for announcements of upcoming events.
“I just want people to know that we’re here to serve them. We’re here with love, and anybody can come in,” said Natasha. “You know, even if people come in and they don’t buy anything – if you’re having a bad day, come in and recharge. If you’re having a good day, you can come in and feel even better. It’s just about holding space.”
Whether you’re looking for ways to improve your health or want to explore your spiritual side, the River & Raine Apothecary is definitely worth a visit.
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