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A modern-day apothecary, Life Distilled opened on Ames’ Main Street in November, giving owner Jenny Pollard her first storefront in a prominent location on the corner of Kellogg Avenue and Main Street.
The store specializes in products with all-natural ingredients, including therapeutic-grade essential oils packaged in convenient rollers, sprays and salves.
Pollard can help customers choose between the oils and offers custom blends.
“Stress and sleep are the two most common things I hear folks wanting some relief for. They’re both things that are easy to apply something natural to,” she said. “I also have several teas that can help with things like headaches and sleep.”
A common application for the oils is a roller container. It’s not complicated and it’s ready to go right from the package with no additional blending or fuss, Pollard said.
Although Pollard is careful not to make medical claims about the effects of the oils and other products on her shelves, she’s seen anecdotal benefits and thinks people are yearning for products that resemble grandma’s remedies — things like herbal teas, ciders, vinegars and elderberry syrups.
The name of her business is derived from essential oils themselves.
“Distilling is the mechanism used to get an essential oil from a plant,” she said. “But also applying that term to life: What is really needed? How can we just be as natural and simple as possible and not over-complicate things?”
The idea that would eventually develop into a dream-come-true storefront business was started when Pollard was a sleep-deprived mom of three young boys, including 2-year-old twins.
It’s not that she couldn’t sleep, but her sons were having sleep issues and that kept her awake, too.
She discovered essential oils through a community of moms who touted their benefits. She credits the oils with having positive effects on her kids, and she says she was finally able to get a good night’s sleep, too.
Pollard created a Monster Spray with lavender essential oils that she’d spray on her sons’ pillows and around their rooms as part of a bedtime ritual. The soothing scent helped them sleep — allowing Jenny to get some, too.
Although this is her first storefront, Pollard has owned Life Distilled for several years. In 2017, she started participating in maker markets like the Locally Grown Showcase, the Beautiful Land Market and the Vintage & Made Fair. She also had an Etsy shop and sells products online.
The markets functioned as a business incubator of sorts.
“It helps you test the waters,” Pollard said.
Not only was she able to sell her products, she also got the chance to receive instant customer feedback, interact with her customers and enjoy the camaraderie in the community of other small business owners at the markets.
“Stacy Negrete at Oak Lane Candle has had my products for a couple years,” Pollard said. “With her success, I was seeing a lot of growth there, too.
“I’ve always had an itch to have a Main Street business, so, finally, I bit the bullet.”
Pollard’s experience at the markets has stuck with her, and she’s brought along many of the products of local small business owners she met during those events.
The Holton Homestead, for example, is a family-owned business in Elkhart. Life Distilled sells its infused honey, which is imbued with ingredients like orange peel and lavender. The raw, unfiltered honey is hand-crafted in small batches.
Holton’s elderberry syrup, tonic and syrup mixes are also available. The elderberry products are made with organic ingredients and are rich in antioxidants.
Life Distilled also sells a line of herbal teas from Red Dragon Herbs & Teas in Polk City. Crafted in small batches, the loose leaf tea blends incorporate spices, fruits and flowers.
Jessicca Lenehan, the co-owner of Locally Grown Showcase, makes custom items for Pollard’s business. She’s the owner and designer of Landy Lou & Devie Too, a handmade clothier.
“I’m a small business, and it’s great for people to support me, but also the products I carry being local helps support them, too,” Pollard said. “I’m trying to do as much partnership with local businesses as I can.”
Local products can be beneficial to the health of customers, too, she said.
“For instance, local honey carries your local environment’s pollen, so as you condition your body through honey, it can benefit your allergies and your health,” Pollard said.
Another area maker with a presence at Life Distilled is Allison Vial and her line of FiddleStitched jewelry.
“I’ve been deciding on the things I want for the store and then reaching out to some of those folks I have community with at those markets, saying, ‘Hey, I found this online. Could you make something like this?’” Pollard said. “I had support like that in the beginning, like with Stacy at Oak Lane, and it made a big difference.”
Pollard has also applied for a CBD license and plans to start selling CBD products made by ICanna of Ames once that is granted.
Life Distilled also offers a variety of make-and-take events, like a recent evening spent creating elderberry syrup from Holton’s mix. The shop also hosts private groups for customized creative parties.
Address: 301 Main St., Suite 105
Website: life-distilled.com
Facebook: facebook.com/life.distilled
Instagram: instagram.com/life.distilled

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