story by Catharine Lo
photos by G. Brad Lewis
“Everything I’ve done I’ve loved,” says Sharon Warren. The sixty-five-year-old organic alchemist is sitting contentedly on a bamboo couch as she talks about her many paths—from Canada, through India and Nepal, to Bali, Dubai and countless other exotic locales. A cloud of lavender envelops her as she speaks; behind her, the view stretches for miles, across verdant forests, all the way down to the ocean.
Sharon is wearing green floral-print capris as she talks—perfect, I think: Green the elemental color of nature and flora the primary source of Sharon’s connection to the world. For the past ten years she has been operating her hugely successful aromatherapy company, Warren Botanicals, from this property high on the Kona coast of the Big Island; she ended her world travels when she stepped off the plane in Kona fifteen years ago and realized she’d found her home. And here, on her land in Hualalai, nature is the consummate host. The central room of Sharon’s split-level house is defined by fire, air, earth and water: One wall features a majestic lava rock fireplace; another is a living waterfall that flows when it rains. Cathedral ceilings and skylights project space upward, but the main attraction is outward to that breathtaking view. Outside, the land is dotted with meditation gardens and aromatic varietals that include blue ginger, Japanese tulip, Himalayan bamboo and night-blooming jasmine. Strings of purple orchids twist up tree trunks.
“I love beauty. Especially the beauty of plants and flowers,” Sharon says, describing the one constant that has spoken to her soul. “So it’s not odd that I would make products that would create beauty—a space that everyone wants to come to.”
While Warren Botanicals is a relatively new chapter in Sharon’s life, organic alchemy is not; at twenty-one, as a young woman back in Toronto, she was already making potions for family and friends. “I’ve always loved plants and communicated with them,” says the self-described flower child. Warren Botanicals was born—unwittingly—thirteen years ago when a Hawaiian kahuna, or priest, asked Sharon to create a detoxifier that he could use to anoint people. She created the elixir, then offered some of it to the guys at her gym (who referred to her, affectionately, as Merlin). It immediately cured their ailments—no more shin splints, no more sore muscles—and the next day, they were waiting for her to find out just what this potion was and how to get more of it. At the time, it was unnamed, existing just in a little vial marked with a sticker that read “detox.”
Sharon decided to call it Muscle and Joint Relief. Its popularity grew rapidly. The publisher of Muscle Magazine got his hands on some and wrote about its effectiveness. The bicycling team from British Columbia won numerous medals at the 1994 Commonwealth Games and credited their wins to the powerful elixir. A Japanese lab analyzed the formula—comprised of twenty-two essential oils with more than 4,000 active components—and declared it one of the cleanest substances it had ever assessed.