For herbalist and practical witch Jen Auerbach, there are few ailments that a little nature can't solve.
"I fought off a recent bout of the flu with elderberry syrup, steam inhalations with oil of oregano, eucalyptus, bone broth, and ginger shots," the Clary Collection co-founder begins. "I highly recommend spending time in an infrared sauna and visiting the salt caves, both are great for reducing inflammation."
While not averse to antibiotics, Auerbach is the type who urges you to think twice before reaching for a box of Sudafed, should you find yourself struck down by the common cold. It seems particularly fitting that Auerbach's home — a traditional English stone house planted squarely among the trees in Nashville, Tennessee — is awash in soothing shades of green. Call it moss, sage, or artichoke, Auerbach's penchant for nature's favorite neutral goes well beyond the way it looks in the afternoon sun.
"Green is the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy, it's associated with growth, harmony, safety, fertility — and promotes a positive environment," Auerbach explains. "Green has been used, historically, in interiors that I love since the 1800s. Green complements wooden furniture and colorful textiles so beautifully. Green beauty is Clary Collection and green living is my daily mantra."
Splashes of Sherwin-Williams' Shamrock Green, Pickle, and Artichoke complete the hocus pocus meets southern charm aesthetic throughout the 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom home that Auerbach shares with her husband, The Black Keys musician and producer Dan Auerbach, the couple's young son, and beloved rescue pup, Bunny. But it's the neighboring barn that's strictly reserved for witchy business, serving as Clary's HQ and Auerbach's dedicated workspace.
"We added the barn to our five acres," Auerbach explains. "It was originally built for my husband's vintage motorbike collection, but I kicked him out and gave his bikes to the local car museum, claiming the space for Clary Collection. I wanted an industrial space but it needed to reflect the creative women who would be hand-crafting oils and herbs every day, hence the velvet furniture, female portraits, and plants breathing continuous soul into this space."
A quick scan around the room reveals a penchant for vintage furniture that runs in the family — "my father-in-law, Chuck Auerbach, is an antiques dealer," she adds. Several pieces, those sourced on the road, are the fruits of accompanying your Grammy-winning husband on a cross-country, month long tour. Buttons that read "ladies only," plush armchairs, sourced via Chairish, and a vintage medicine cabinet sourced from a New York City University science lab boasts essential oils and tiny tinctures. Tags with hand-written labels that read "avocado oil" swing from bottlenecks and glass beakers, while oversized canvases by Buddy Jackson casually lean on factory-style windows.
"After the morning school drop, I'll head down to the Clary Barn in a very stylish sweatsuit and start the day with our incredible team, made up of four women," Auerbach explains, of her daily work-from-home routine. "Here, we infuse herbs of calendula, chamomile, lavender, and plantain in unrefined cold pressed oils, all full of healing properties. Our team then hand-craft and package all of our orders. I'll then pick up my son from school and attempt to answer emails and cook dinner, while Mickey Mouse Club House tortures me in the background."
The herbalist muses on moments her Nashville-based friends have come to visit, reminiscing on childhoods spent playing in Auerbach's own back garden. Auerbach and her family are only the second to live on the property, something the British-born, Australian-raised, Nashville transplant knows is a big deal — it's a point of pride and a genuine privilege. History is something that quite literally comes with the territory and Auerbach's home is steeped in it.
"My husband and I were house hunting and we drove past this magical stone house — it looked like it belonged in the English countryside," Auerbach recalls, full of whimsy. "Being from London, I immediately said 'There's our home.' It wasn’t for sale but we new an agent who knew the owners. They accepted my pleas and eventually sold it to us."
Follow the garden path, pass the barn, and you'll be delighted by what you find. A treasure trove of vintage finds, plucked from obscurity or carefully sourced via Etsy, Chairish, and 1stdibs. Auerbach decorates her home like she does the barn, all green interiors and unconventional finds.
"Our home was built in 1905, its exterior is 19-inch stone that was preserved in its original condition, that was a huge drawcard for us," Auerbach continues. "During renovations, I would receive lovely hand-written cards from the people who had grown up here. I decided to invite everyone back for tea and cake. We learned that comedian Minnie Pearl once headed up our tennis court and that there was a donkey that lived on the property during the '30s. We later learned that the donkey's name was Early — the name of my son who was upstairs sleeping at the time. Naturally, when our guests arrived, everyone freaked out when I introduced them to my baby, Early."
Auerbach admits she's grateful for the minute-long, door-to-door commute, allowing her to spend more time with her son. An average day at home involves waking up with the birds — "Early wakes at 5am," — but that's not where his name came from, Auerbach insists.
Motherhood — and all that comes with it — is the change that prompted Auerbach and Clary co-founder Adriel Denae to take a good idea and put it into practice. The duo channel their own experiences into a collection of herb-infused, naturally-derived bath and body products, each as green as Auerbach's own home.
"Clary Collection was born out of friendship and the connection we found during pregnancy," Auerbach explains. "Two souls who changed everything about the way we see the world. Our transition into motherhood sparked many changes in us, one of which was a new awareness of the value of clean skincare products for ourselves and our families."
Cross the threshold, pass the sweeping southern staircase and antique Relic Home runner, Brimfield blue bench seat and trio of embroidered Etsy-sourced pillows, and you'll be standing squarely where Clary began.
"I love my kitchen," Auerbach emphatically explains. "We love to cook and I think the kitchen is the best room in the house for family to gather, if you enjoy cooking. We exposed the 19-inch thick stone walls and old brick by the stove, and customized a big bronze hood and a 20-foot-long marble island."
Brass pulls and brushed pendant lights lift the warm metals throughout Auerbach's kitchen space, a hub she's decorated with turquoise counter stools and a vintage Persian runner. Ample counter space and herringbone floors comfortably cater to family living, while vintage skillets hang on the neighboring wall. There are twin butler sinks, goose neck faucets, and the kind of finishes that would make any home cook swoon.
In the adjacent dining space, an oversized cabinet houses stacks of sourced ceramics and fine china, should Auerbach choose to play host. It's all quintessentially southern, but rendered in a fresh, unexpected way. A home firmly rooted in the south, but home to a family well-travelled.
Striped yellow dining chairs made in Switzerland and an antique farm table — both vintage, sourced via 1stdibs — anchor the dining space, while cozy armchairs, layered sheepskins, and artwork sourced from all over decorate the walls. When it comes to color, Auerbach switches it up, opting for coats of Benjamin Moore's Saratoga Springs.
"After I moved here from New York City, I discovered that southern hospitality is an actual thing," Auerbach explains. "Everyone was so inviting and so kind, it was so foreign to me that I was a little suspicious to start. Nashville is a small town with a big heart."
Upstairs, an ornate master bath, crystal chandelier and gold hardware complement a floor-to-ceiling subway tile. A vintage paintbox sourced via Chuck Auerbach Antiques house a stack of books — The Green Witch, The Master Book of Herbalism, and The Earthwise Herbal Repertory, to be exact. A Restoration Hardware mirror reads "remember where you are" scrawled in cherry red lipstick.
"I love any piece with a story, so vintage, pre-loved finds are my absolute favorite," adds Auerbach, of her approach to sourcing. "My parents are property developers and I grew up in thrift stores, between old houses in England and Australia."
For Auerbach, though, home is so much more than a color palette, a place to store beautiful antiques, or fill a fancy china cabinet — it's the source of all comfort and creativity.
"After having a baby, your home becomes a safe haven," she explains. "It protects you and your new tiny life. You’ve never appreciated your bed more, you never suffer FOMO again. All I wanted to do was stay home and cradle my baby in a cashmere blanket, walk around topless wearing Bridget Jones' big underpants, while tending to my leaking boobs."
As for the daily juggling act of balancing motherhood and running a business from home? Put it down to magic — and a healthy dose of self care.
"I call it daily survival," Auerbach continues. "In today's society, we are all under way too much pressure to be someone else. The best thing I have learnt is practicing self-discipline and making sure I do one dedicated activity for me, a day — be it a bath with burning sage, or five minutes of meditation. Everyone has five minutes to spare — and you won’t die wishing you'd washed more dishes."