Alex SpearROSES ARE RED: A room in Root, Rind & Petal, located on Pleasant Street, is adorned with crystals, essential oils, books and earth tones. The store’s owner, Jenny Fitzpatrick, remarks on her business’s origins and motivations.

Root, Rind & Petal is a local health and wellness boutique on Pleasant Street. Its unassuming exterior, chalkboard sign, covered porch and charming white paint doesn’t reveal much to the passerby. Inside, however, owner Jenny Fitzpatrick has created a truly unique space. One of two rooms is laden in stones, healing crystals and homemade candles, and the fragrance of essential oils envelops the room. The adjacent room consists of a family-style dining table, the site of Fitzpatrick’s intimate eight-person Wednesday night workshops where she teaches everything from oils to astrology to Angel Tarot.

Fitzpatrick’s experience with essential oils and alternative and supplemental medicines began seven years ago in Northern Maine when her four-year old son, Nathan was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare type of childhood cancer.

It was during Nathan’s treatment that Fitzpatrick started researching alternative methods of treatment. She tried essential oils, sound healing therapies and cranial sacral stones.

“I started researching–as much as I could—alternative methods of trying just to relieve the side effects [of cancer treatment],” Fitzpatrick said. “I can’t say it was isolated to one thing.”

Fitzpatrick and Nathan’s doctors noticed a significant shift in Nathan’s physical, mental and emotional health. Nathan, now fully recovered, is the reason Fitzpatrick first started offering alternative medicine workshops for other families in her family’s two hundred year old farm house.

Lucy’s Love Buses, a nonprofit from Amesbury, Massachusetts, provides free integrative therapies for children in cancer treatment, and helped jumpstart Fitzpatrick’s business, subsequently providing a more accommodating space.

“That started the formation of Root Rind & Petal. I formed the business so that I’d be able to consult [with families],” Fitzpatrick said. “People would come to our house for workshops, where I would actually sit down and show them how to blend and mix [oils] for every different physical or emotional purpose.”

Three years ago, Ftizpatrick moved back to Brunswick, where she grew up, and bought the Root Rind & Petal store front.

“Taking on an actual brick and mortar store was very intimidating because of the overhead expense and whether or not people are actually going to be enough to support that. We opened in the middle of Covid[-19] and are still here. It’s a beautiful thing to say,” Fitzpatrick said.

With the stigmas attributed to “alternative medicine,” Fitzpatrick’s practice is sometimes met with resistance.

“What started off as everyone kind of saying, oh, this is woowoo stuff or it’s mystical,” Fitzpatrick said, “I’ve seen in just [a recent] span of time all the science that has surfaced that supports all of these age old methods.”

Throughout the pandemic, and especially when compared to when she started seven years ago, Fitzpatrick believes that people have become more open-minded about alternative health and wellness.

“I think a lot of stuff has bubbled to the surface … so I think people are looking at ways that they can feel better,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick herself had cancer when she was twenty and recalls spending years researching the long term effects and feeling frustrated. She wishes that she knew then what she knows now. Fitzpatrick wants to teach people about the wide variety of ways to approach health and wellness.

“Medicine is excellent. But in addition, there’s other things that we can incorporate that can really support us in so many wonderful ways,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick has the utmost confidence in the work she is doing and in her storefront.

“It’s one of those things that you feel inside your gut, you just know. It’s going to help people,” Fitzpatrick said. “It all really stems from radical faith. Trust in the process, because when you know, and you feel that strongly about something, that there’s a reason for it.”

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