Spotlight on Recurring Donor to Bee City USA: Jennifer Maves, Owner of ZenJenSkin

Little Steps Add Up
​by Janiece Meek
So often, we associate making a difference in the world with actions that are as dramatic as sunrises or as fireworks displayed across a dark July sky. But, Jennifer Maves’ quiet, patient approach of taking little steps toward big changes is both approachable and exceedingly powerful.

Jennifer’s journey leading to the establishment of her plant-based skin care line consisted of taking one step after the other in the direction of her deepening interest in botanicals. A Midwest transplant, Jennifer came to the Asheville area in 2008 to create a healthier, sustainable lifestyle. Her early interest in herbal medicine grew into an all-out passion for botanicals, holistic medicine and aromatherapy, and in 2013, ZenJenSkin was born. Crafting infused oils and tinctures ignited her curiosity, leading her toward the use of active ingredients which calm itching skin, deter biting insects, and repair aging skin.

On her half-acre urban farm, Jennifer keeps a medicinal garden from which she plucks yarrow, catnip and nettles to create small batches, and thinks we have come to take for granted some of nature’s most powerful ingredients. Honey, for example, has potent antibacterial properties, and for this reason, is an ingredient in her facial masque formula which aids in the treatment of acne. Honey, for example, has potent antibacterial properties, it is highly nutritional and deeply moisturizing, and for this reason, it is a main ingredient in her Crepey Skin Repair and homemade masks. 

It’s easy to connect the dots between Jennifer’s passion for the plant world, the essential relationship between bees and botanicals, and her support of Bee City USA. But beyond that, she feels strongly that people should know and appreciate the critical role of bees as pollinators. “Seventy-five percent of the world’s crops depend on the work of pollination done by bees.  That’s how important they are.”

But, Jennifer is not standing on the sidelines wringing her hands. She is engaged with helping pollinators in a way that is both meaningful and manageable at this point in her life. And so, she is optimistic that we won’t have to reach a point where we’ve lost the bees. “Often, people create things out of anger and fear. You don’t need to do that. Create things out of love, because it goes so much further.”

​That’s where community-minded philanthropy enters, “You should support what you believe in, and you don’t have to reach the whole world. I like to keep it in the community.” 

She’s a member of the Buncombe County [NC] Bee Club, and aspires to keep bees perhaps next year, but realizes not everyone is inclined or able to do this. This is yet one more opportunity to think in terms of taking small steps to have an impact. For example, “If you care about nature and bees, you can volunteer your time or give automatic monthly support to an organization like Bee City USA.” She also offers that simple acts such as using bee-attracting plants and bee-friendly water sources in your landscape, together with avoiding the use of pesticides, will have an impact. “That’s where little changes, little steps all add up.”

Jennifer gets it. What she’s describing is the collective mind of the hive, with all of us working in unison, each in our own way, to do valuable work. And that is a very optimistic proposition.

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