We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa N. Alexander and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa N., can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Combine one part family history of hypertension and diabetes with one part, way too many cucumbers, and one part of having my home violated and I had the makings for a new self-care, lifestyle brand. In 2016, my Momma (aka Bishop Gwendolyn Mack) passed away after having 12 strokes. That’s not a typo. She had 12 strokes over the course of three years AND a love of fried food. My grandmother, the infamous Nana Brown also had hypertension and my paternal grandmother died of complications from diabetes. Let’s just say my genetic makeup isn’t the best. So I knew I was going to have to take charge of my life and health. That meant eating more fruits and vegetables, making the decision to have weight loss surgery, and planting a backyard garden. Now, this wasn’t my first garden. My husband accused me of committing herbicide many times before I was a successful gardener. Can we take a moment for all the many plants, flowers, and vegetables that gave their lives for my learning? Moment taken. 🙂 If you’ve ever committed herbicide or believe your thumb isn’t green, there is hope. I’m proof! After a successful first year, I planted cucumber the following year and planted way too many. We ate what we could, gave the rest away and we still had too many. So I got the bright idea to make soap with the surplus. I watched countless YouTube videos and read lots of blogs on the soapmaking process. I slowly started buying soaping supplies and decided that I would make soap using the cold process method. That meant I would have to work with sodium hydroxide. Now lye scares a lot of would-be soap makers but I wasn’t afraid. Being a woman of color who has permed her own hair a time or two knew how to respectfully work with the chemical. I sincerely thought, “what’s the big deal?” Gloves, goggles, long sleeves, and good ventilation. I knew enough to be careful but I wasn’t scared of the process. I made my first batch of soap, designed a pretty label, and posted a picture on Facebook and the rest is history. I had a soap order the next day for 50 soaps. Soaping then became therapy for me during some very difficult years. We took in a family after they experienced a sudden loss and my sanctuary turned into a living hell. So I absolutely understand stressors being inside the home. Soaping became my escape and I was able to create these beautiful pieces even though my life and home were in utter chaos. When I got my home back, I immediately went about the business of restoring it to a place of peace. Making it my sanctuary once again. My sacred space. And there would be plenty of intentional, internal healing that would have to take place too. Alexander Farm & Orchard exists because women like me and perhaps you realize that we are nothing without our health, are particular about the products we use, and won’t settle for anything less than peace in our homes.
What should our readers know about your business?
African-American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress Erykah Badu once said, “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my [expletive].” That statement resonated with me on such a deep level. I started my career as a graphic designer. I was self-taught and later went to vocational school to fill in a few knowledge gaps. (This was before you could Google anything you wanted to know and find a video on it on YouTube.) I loved creating for printed and digital pages. I freelanced between jobs because it’s what most graphic designers do. It’s the pull and call to create what you see in your head without all the restrictions and guardrails. But clients also come with creative restrictions, and my ability to create was stifled. This was even true when it came to video work I produced. The projects that allowed for creative control and license were few. Then came the opportunity to create a new brand and start my new business, Alexander Farm & Orchard. Basically, I’m the client! I have complete creative control and autonomy at last. In this new venture, I bring everything I’ve learned to this business. I get to use all of my design, marketing, storytelling, and video production expertise to launch and grow this new brand. And as an artist, I couldn’t feel freer or happier.
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.
Our nephew is a professional drummer and tours around the world with some well-known artists. Whenever he’s headed to Houston he sends me a text so we can get together! Our time together is limited so we make sure to take him to spots where he can get great home-cooked meals since he’s on the road. His first visit: The Reggae Hut. The brown stew chicken is still his favorite. Second visit: The Breakfast Klub. What’s not to love about their fluffy waffles and perfectly seasoned catfish? Third visit: Frenchy’s Chicken. This place is legendary and for good reason. If we had more time, we’d love to take him to one of our favorite spots, Goforth Park in NW Houston. The dog park, the two-mile walking/bike trail, and fishing spots remind us of life back in Los Angeles.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This shoutout is dedicated to my husband Elgin Alexander. He has been my biggest fan, my greatest supporter, and a trusted advisor. His love and support have given me space to ever evolve into the best version of myself.
Photography by Lisa N. Alexander