FLINT, Michigan — Flint resident Talib Bondon El is the founder of Acacia Essentials
, a holistic health company specializing in natural medicinal herbal supplements that provide a wealth of health benefits.
Bondon El established the online health store in 2017 and launched Acacia Essentials' website in 2019. The company experienced a growth spurt during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 from people seeking alternative and natural ways to stay healthy. Since then, Bondon El has managed to build a loyal customer base throughout Michigan and Canada.
A certified herbalist and reflexologist, Bondon El has been studying botanicals (plants, herbs) since 2010. The formulas and supplements he makes for Acacia Essentials consist of wildcrafted and organic botanical herbs that assist in healing the body on a cellular level. Along with the use of medicinal herbs, he also encourages his customers to engage in physical activities and focus on healthy nutrition.
Flintside had the opportunity to speak with Bondon El to learn more about Acacia Essentials, the company's unexpected boom during the pandemic, and what it takes to build a thriving holistic health business.
Acacia Essentials carries natural products that help with various parts of the body such as the digestive, respiratory, heart, lymphatic, and nervous systems.
Flintside: What inspired you to create Acacia Essentials and how did you get the business started?
Talib Bondon El
: “So, Acacia means ‘tree of life’ and it’s a medicinal plant that has many medicinal properties in it. I chose that name because it's something related to what I do. In 2015, I just started writing in a notebook and thought about specifics as far as immunity, digestive health, things of that nature. That's how I came up with the formulas that I have. I would make my products and have people test them out, and they would give me a donation. Then, I got nudged about making a business out of it. So with the notebook stuff I created, I started writing down things like legitimizing the business and having my ducks in a row. I did that for two years.
I officially started the company in 2017. It was just local and just word of mouth, but in 2019 is when I expanded nationally because I created a website, and social media page, and started getting a bigger audience across the nation. I started getting Canadian customers and spreading across the internet. I do vending around the Flint, Genesee County area, been out of state a few times doing a few events, I've been to the Detroit area, Oakland County, the whole Wayne County area.”
Flintside: When did your interest in Herbology and Reflexology initially begin?
T. Bondon El
: For about seven years, I was studying holistic health on my own. I would go to Barnes & Noble or to a campus library. I went to Middle Tennessee State, down in Murfreesboro, TN, and would be in the library just looking up all types of books on holistic alternative medicine. I would get on the computer and look up different things like the origins of plants, the medicinal values, what part of the plant isn't medicinal, what's poisonous, the whole nine. I just became infatuated with herbal biology. Inside, I've always been a health enthusiast, but the late 2000s is when it really clicked about the holistic health thing.”
Digestive & Intestinal Super Cleanse, sold exclusively at Acacia Essentials.
Flintside: How was your business affected by the pandemic and what were some of the things you did to pivot?
: “So, in 2019, with the website and social media outlets, I was already growing tremendously, but then the pandemic hit, and I had an influx of customers come out of nowhere, and I was pretty busy. It got to the point where I was hiring people to take packages to USPS and have me, I was having like 30-40 deliveries a day or every other day throughout Genesee County, Wayne County, and Oakland County. So yeah, I did pretty well, like, super well.”
Flintside: How has the reception been from customers and the community since opening Acacia Essentials?
T. Bondon El
: “Oh, it's been on up and up, and it's steady to where I can really keep things moving. I'm pretty big on customer service as far as turnaround times no matter where the product is going. If it's going to Toronto or California, I'm big on making sure people's stuff gets to them in a timely manner. They get quality so I get a lot of good feedback. I get a lot of stories from customers that said that my products helped health issues they were suffering from for years, and that's what really keeps me going because it's like, people really need this.”
Flintside: What is something you want more people to know when it comes to the importance of taking care of their health?
T. Bondon El
: “Definitely to do your own research and do a little more homework. I go live sometimes on Facebook to encourage people in the community and answer their questions about products and health and wellness. A lot of people walk away with so much information, it's a lot to them, and it means a lot to me. I encourage people to ask a lot of questions because I'm a person that really wants to know what’s in something I’m taking, what I’m ingesting, the potential health benefits, etc.
Also, be proactive with your health. Don't wait until you get sick. Don't wait until a nurse practitioner or physician specialist is diagnosing you with some mental health disorder or some physical disease or disorder — because that's what [disease] is, your body is out of ease, or out of order — and you want to bring it back to harmony. And so it's very important that we focus on nourishing our systems proactively every day. Not waiting until we have a common cold, or a fever, or COVID. It should just be second nature for you to take care of yourself.”
Emerald Greens Super Food, sold exclusively at Acacia Essentials.
Flintside: What advice would you give to someone who's thinking about starting a holistic business?
T. Bondon El
: “Study! Study and research. I got certified in 2017, and I'm still finishing up my reflexology certificate with the Detroit holistic Training Institute. I go through other institutions as well, when it comes to realistic medicine so I definitely encourage people to pick up a book, go to the library, go to Barnes & Noble, or whatever bookstore; everybody has a section that's called ‘Alternative Medicine.’
Be passionate, be dedicated, spend a few hours a day reading something, and even research behind what you read, cross-reference, that's how you come up with where you can go with this thing. Then you have the business side. I suggest getting a mentor — I have a few. When it comes to your craft, and whatever you want to do in holistic medicine, I don't care if it's being an herbalist or being a reflexologist, a call-to-action therapist, mental health therapist, whatever it is, you can always have that mentorship; someone that you can go to that's been doing it for decades.
Like my teacher, he's been doing it for almost 50 years and I always go to him or he always refers me to other people as well. I've built a mentorship through a multitude of people over the years so there's gonna come to a point to where you want to come under somebody that's been doing it for a long time. That's what I came to realize after seven years.”
To visit and shop Acacia Essentials, visit: acaciasessentials.com