The earth has a magical way of giving us all that we need to harbor and heal the mind, body, and soul. For Jennifer Clifton & Elisabeth Dunham tapping into and sourcing the perfect, natural ingredient from deep within the earth became the ultimate survival in personal battles of Lyme disease and hormonal problems. It was these spiritual creatives that discovered the healing qualities of lava clay in their own personal recovery, and then, joined forces to create the ultimate business based on their experience and philosophies. Clifton & Dunham realized they were sitting on a gold mine in the lava fields of Bend, Oregon, where they could bring others healing, beauty and the ultimate skincare line. Lava Love was born and the story below kicks off the brand’s latest Kickstarter campaign. Once you read this story, you will not only be soaking in lava baths (like me!), but you will want to digest and slather every one of their products on you for a toxic-free body and beautiful, kissable skin.
1. What were you like as a child? Who are you today?
Jennifer: As a child I was super shy until I got to know you, and once I got to know you, I was full of fun and mischief. As a child, there were people I would connect with and really want to get to know better, and then there were others where I was indifferent. I am still friends with my childhood friends. One friend in particular, Nicole Lovett. We started hanging out in the 2nd grade and when I see her today its just the same. She is sweet and loving, gentle and nice.
I always loved sports, dominoes, cards, or any type of game. Specifically, I loved soccer. I loved to ski. Loved the outdoors. I also loved art. As a child, I wished I was a boy. I called myself Jeff, and wore boy clothes (OP of course) and I really wanted a pair of Vans but I remember my parents thought they were too expensive.
Today, I am not so shy. Sure, I have my moments of insecurity, but who doesn’t. Generally, I love meeting people and hearing all about their lives. Still today, I usually energetically connect with someone right away or it’s more indifference. I do believe, people are energetic beings, and if our energies collide, it’s a ton of fun. But, I need downtime too. I can easily cuddle up on the couch for a good movie over going out to a party. I still love to work out. Now I love yoga. I still love the outdoors, love camping and making camp fires. And still love smores now just as much, if not more than I did as a kid.
I don’t like taking instruction from others. I have always wanted to be my own boss, as I don’t like people telling me what to do, where to be or how to do it. I am proactive. If there is something I want to do, I’ll find a way to do it. Maybe not right that second, but I am not afraid to dream and set my goals high.
Elisabeth: Imaginative, creative, rebellious. Very shy. I was voted “most creative” in second grade. I’m the same person in many ways.
2. Your Life’s Work? (how did Lava get started?)
Jennifer: My life’s purpose is to continue to grow along spiritual lines. When I was younger, I was incentivized by money. I became a corporate lawyer because I loved the thrill of a deal, and I wanted to make a lot of money. As I’ve grown older, my values have changed. I now want to promote peace and healing in my life and the lives of others.
Elisabeth and I met each other in 12-step recovery over 10 years ago. She has always had a strong spiritual foundation. The two of us have been through a lot together and when the opportunity presented itself to work together to heal ourselves and others in the process, I jumped on it.
Elisabeth: My life’s work is helping people heal and have better lives. Lava Love started as part of my own healing journey. In 2008, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I was in pain 24/7 and could not leave the house. Doctors told me my immune system was compromised as the result of toxins I had been exposed to over my lifetime. I was informed that there toxins in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the mercury fillings in our mouths. It was really discouraging to realize that in order to heal I had to rid my body of these toxins – and yet I was being bombarded by them everywhere and in every way. In fact, we all are. There are hundreds of thousands of people getting sick every year with diseases related to environmental toxins in just our air, water and food.
At this point, I knew I needed to detoxify my body. But I had no idea how to go about it without using harsh chemicals that could make me really sick. And then one day someone brought me some bentonite clay, which is really a form of lava. I did some research and learned that this type of clay actually removes toxins such as heavy metals from the body and helps restore natural balance. I started bathing in it every week.
I was amazed at my body’s response. I started making the bath products as gifts for friends. I made soap out of it, clay masks. I ended up calling it Lava Love. I wanted to share it with the world. And that’s when Jen got excited too.
3. What is your personal measuring stick?
Jennifer: I have a desire to grow along spiritual lines; so I try to live along spiritual principles. Love, tolerance and kindness. I try to love myself and others, starting with my husband, kids and friends and spreading out from there. My personal measuring stick would be evaluate each day and see if I have spread love, kindness and truth or if I have been wrapped up in some other story or agenda.
Elisabeth: Like anyone who has experienced long-term illness, my goals in life are much different than someone who has never been sick and lost years or decades of their life to that illness. So my measuring stick is simple to be healthy. For me being healthy and pain free is my happiness and my bliss. Eating raw living foods and being healthy on a cellular level makes you way more blissed out than most people will ever understand. So I am trying everyday to keep that bliss going. So the short answer would be being healthy and happy and getting to spend time in nature and with my kids. If I can achieve that I am successful. Anything more that I can give back to the world is gravy.
4. How did Lava Love come to life? Tell us about the magic healing sourced from the volcano and the process of bottling these properties.
Jennifer: Elisabeth came out to visit me in Bend, and would not stop talking about the healing and detoxifying effects of bentonite and zeolite and charcoal. . . the clay this and the clay that. I was like, enough about the clay already. Geez. But then I realized, hey, maybe the clay can help me with my PMS, anxiety, depression, achy joints, headaches, et al. She said my body was toxic, and I needed to detoxify with a raw vegan diet and clay. So, I started bathing in clay.
Elisabeth had developed a proprietary recipe of bentonite, zeolite and charcoal, which is our Lava Love Clay Detox Bath. I bathed in about a cup or two of this two to three times a week. Within three weeks, I noticed a considerable change in my health.
Any time I would get anxious, stressed out, overburdened, feel nuts, I would lock the door to my bathroom and descend into my clay baths for 20 minutes. I’d light the candles and drift away. Whatever was so urgently causing me discontent would slip away as I relaxed into the bath. Seriously not only were toxins being pulled from my body, but toxic thoughts, energy and beliefs. A healing process started. I lost 20 lbs; I started eating healthier, and I just felt better.
Today I use the clay baths as one of the many tools of self care. Sometimes, I may not have time to get my workout in, I may not have enough time or money for a massage, or time to hit a yoga class, but I can always lock the door and sneak in a 20 minute detox bath, especially at the end of my day before bed.
Recently, I got a concussion on my mountain bike ride, and ended up with a CAT scan. To combat the radiation, I doubled up on my clay baths.
“The amazing thing about clay is that it has an negative ion charge that binds with things with a positive ion charge, like free radicals, pollution, heavy metals, toxins and impurities. I can feel it working at a cellular level in my body. It’s a miracle. “
Elisabeth: It really is the healing of mother earth at its most primary level. We source our volcanic ash from Oregon Volcanoes and have created bath soaps, as well clay masks and detox baths along with a host of other products that we believe detoxify and renew the body.
5. How did you two find one another? Your shared stories? and/or How does the partnership work? How do you divide and conquer?
Jennifer: We met in a mommy’s 12-step recovery group 10 years ago. At the time, Elisabeth was the lead singer in a band called the Countrypolitans. We hit it off. She works such a strong spiritual program, I knew I wanted to be her friend. Elisabeth has been sober for over 27 years, toured the world as a musician and was a writer for the Oregonian. She was interesting, smart, spiritual, and very fun to be around. We stayed close through the years . . . both of us went through divorces . . . and we grew closer through the process, both of us have blended families on the other end, and we grew closer through the process. . . . and then waaaallaaaa. Here we are in business together. She is one of my greatest teachers. I adore her.
Elisabeth: Jen and I knew each other as mothers of small kids, then single mothers of small kids, then re-partnered (me) and married (her) to be mothers of bigger kids. We have both been in 12-step recovery together for years so creating a healing business is kind of an extension of that recovery. I consider this true recovery: to heal the body at a deep level, detoxify all manner of physical and emotional toxin from the body and to live to our true spiritual potential. Recovery programs work on the spiritual and emotional but I believe the physical is just as important. It’s impossible to be spiritually healthy, truly spiritually healthy in a toxic, sick body. But many people try to do it. But if you tie the two worlds together you get magic.
So we were both given this chance to be born again into these new healthy bodies. It’s been life changing for both of us and quite a bonding experience as well – so we are excited to share these stories with others and tell them about what helped us. Jen is the business genius, a lawyer, to boot and I’m the kookie creative healing lady/product development specialist.
7. What is the greatest gift you have been given?
Jennifer: My kids. Because they made me want to be a better person. After they were born, I got sober and therein began the greatest journey of self discovery and the love affair of my life with myself.
Elisabeth: My health. Raw foods would be the real vehicle that got me there. But I would not have been able to tolerate the raw foods if I had not used bentonite clay (internally and externally) to heal my body and remove toxins in the first place. The clay baths got the detox process started but the real process was transforming my body through living foods. Without clay I would not have been able to begin that real transformative journey. So it was a tool. Clays and foods do not heal the body. Not even a little bit. The body heals the body. But clay to some extent and raw living food to huge extent, helps removes the barriers that prevent the body from doing its own healing.
8. Tell us about life in Bend, all of its offerings.
Jennifer: Bend is amazing. Moved here over 10 years ago for a quality of life change from LA. If you love the outdoors like I do, Bend is the place for you. I literally would almost cry for the first 2 years I lived here tears of gratitude. I was surrounded by mother nature constantly. The people were so friendly too. Oregonians are very friendly people in a very genuine way. They don’t say they are going to help you, they do help you.
Living in Bend, my commute is less than five minutes. I can ride my bike to work. I can walk outside my office onto the River Trail.
If I am lucky, I won’t bump into a single person walking early morning on the river trail. There is world class mountain biking, and fly fishing.
Great skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, mountaineering, and river rafting. There are also tons of lakes to paddle board on or camp next too. There are some of the best golf courses in Oregon, and, some would say, the United States.
People are nice. Food is fresh. The local farmers markets are great. We get great music in the summer. . . . . what’s not to like? Oh, and if you like beer — we got that too.
Elisabeth: Central Oregon is one of the most beautiful places on earth, filled with magical volcanoes. But since I don’t live there anymore I will let Jen take this question.
9. What is it about you that has made your dreams come true?
Jennifer: Faith in all that is good.
Elisabeth: Never giving up. I lost everything to Lyme disease. But I just kept going. I went back to school even when I didn’t feel good. I built a business as a nutritionist even when I was just only beginning to heal myself and now, because I have never given up, I get to see this new dream become a reality. I never took anyone’s medical advice if it was something that was going to hurt me. If I had taken some of the advice that I was giving over the years, I would be dead. That I know. So I’m glad that rebellious, questioning person is still inside of me. That kept me alive.
9. What is your take on work/ life balance?
Jennifer: It is extremely important to happiness. Also, what I believe, and I am trying to do…is do what you love. That way work is just a passionate part of your life. But, yes, it’s important to have time for family, for yourself, for fun, for friends. . . . and all that jazz.
Elisabeth: I think it’s incredibly important. As a single mom with three jobs I could always do better in that department, but I do set a lot of limits with where I put my energy. If I don’t say no to stuff and take care of me there is nobody who is going to do it for me. That is the only way I have enabled myself to heal over the years.
10. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Jennifer: CEO/President of Lava Love. I see Lava Love as a multi-million dollar international lifestyle company. There will be more. :)
Elisabeth: I see myself with a house in Portland, in the Alberta Arts area where I now live. I love it here. This time of year it’s heaven on earth with green lawns, gorgeous trees and flowers galore. I would also like to be spending winters someplace warm, like Hawaii, eating a lot of raw, tropical fruit – with my kids, of course. I’d like to still be working as a certified nutritionist, helping people by phone and Skype as I do now and running or advising people on Lava Love and mother earth healing protocols. I plan to be an old lady healer and live to 140.
Lava Love kicks off their Kickstarter campaign today and runs until October 9th. Ready to tap in?