Meet the CEO & Founder of Summer Solace Tallow: Megan Bre Camp ūüĆŅ

Meet the CEO & Founder of Summer Solace Tallow: Megan Bre Camp ūüĆŅ

We asked Megan a few questions about what led her to start Summer Solace & what continues to inspire her. Her beautiful tallow products are deeply entwined with a connection to the earth and our ancestral use of animals for skincare. You can truly feel the amount of care poured into each product and we loved getting to learn more about her and this incredible brand. 

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Q: What inspired you to start SST?

A: To give context to my brand, let's delve into my upbringing, as the landscape of my origin and my indigenous mountain ancestry paved the path to where I am today. I am Megan Bre Camp, CEO and founder of Summer Solace Tallow, based in Oakland, California. I was born and raised in Alaska by my ex-military father, who belonged to the indigenous community in the central highlands of Vietnam. Our people are animists and live in a rural, traditional, tribal, matriarchal society. I have my sun in Sagittarius and moon in Pisces, with a Virgo ascendant. My lunar year is the Green Wood Rat, and my Human Design i Manifesting Generator.

Growing up in Alaska, my father and I spent significant time outdoors, connecting with the land and the seasons. I have always had a strong work ethic. I started working as a barista at the age of 15. I graduated high school at 17 with honors and enrolled in Culinary School. In 2004, a few years later, I left Alaska and took a one-way flight to Seattle, then a Greyhound bus to Berkeley, California, to attend holistic nutrition culinary school. I was a vegetarian at that time and wanted to specialize in vegetarian cuisine. My first job in the Bay Area was at a Vegan Buddhist restaurant in Oakland, followed by a role as a raw baker/line "cook" at Cafe Gratitude.

2010, I traveled to Maine, where I volunteered for WWOOF at a small farm. There, I felt like I was back home, homesteading in Alaska, and there, I met young radical farmers raising livestock and practicing husbandry. Upon returning to Oakland, I enrolled in Horticulture and Permaculture school. I worked as the head chef at Three Stone Hearth, a community-supported kitchen with recipes based on the Weston A. Price philosophy of ancestral diets. During this time, I was introduced to Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions. My mind was blown! Grass-fed butter, raw milk, and animal fats were the optimal foods we would consume. I had come full circle in my career as a cook, focusing on nutrient-dense foods and ancestral diets.

In the spring of 2014, after spending time as a French Chocolatier, I had friends with babies experiencing eczema and diaper rash. Leveraging my training in animal fats and how to render and work with them, I knew I could help alleviate the irritation with a tallow-based balm. I made a prototype batch of tallow-based balm and received phenomenal feedback from the moms! Shortly after that, I sat down and used my intuition and knowledge to create my core line of tallow balms. I knew which ranch, farmer, and essential oils I wanted to source from to convey a healing spirit to my work. This took me four days to create, and then I made a mock-up label. By Friday, I drove downtown to get my business license and permits, registered my business name, and on my drive back home, I approached three stores that picked up my balms immediately.

The regional terroir of Northern California, its seasons, and our connection to the natural world inspired me to revive the traditional use of animals for the skin, soul, and home. I call my work a Slow Body Care Movement‚ĄĘ, which emulates a slow food movement, where I know each ingredient source grown less than 150 miles from my Oakland studio and share a valued connection to the ranchers, farmers, and artists who are masters of their craft.

Q: Why Tallow and, more specifically, regenerative Tallow?

A: I work with Tallow from suet sourced from Stemple Creek Ranch in northern California, which spearheaded the regenerative farming movement before it was even a thing. I dry render, meaning I do not use water or salt, and I put over 45 pounds of suet into golden tallow every Friday. The cow is broken down on a Thursday, and I pick up the suet fat on a Friday. Tallow is the rendered fat of ruminant animals like sheep, horses, and cattle. I specifically work with pure, raw, fresh suet from pasture-raised cattle. Suet fat is a soft, buttery fat found near the animal's kidneys. Using grass-fed Tallow from suet fat goes back centuries as the base for soapmaking, candle making, and a balm for skin care. It is nutrient-dense with naturally occurring vitamins like A, D, E, and B12, which most plant oils do not possess. Before the Industrial Revolution, people lived close to their livestock and used all parts of them to make sure nothing went to waste. Nowadays, suet fat is thrown away. I do not support factory farming or Big/corporate agriculture. Working with ranchers I know, and trust who are less than 150 miles from me ensures that I know what is in my products and can control the fat's freshness. You can smell the purity and feel the silkiness in our tallow balms. They are totally different than anything else out there. There is an emotional connection to our balms, something that is new yet feels so familiar, something that is a part of us, deep in our human ancestry.

Q: Favorite SST products at the moment?

A: I love everything. Since I work at the Farmer's Markets selling tallows, sheepskins, and all things regional, I must use the Trauma balm with regenerative CBD tallow balm daily. I gua sha with it on my face and massage it onto my body daily. Next would be the Chef and Gardener's balm for my hands- I clean a lot (there's that Virgo accent I spoke about), and this one is always by my kitchen sink. Soap, Sea Change always. I work with a beautiful sea witch in Mendocino who harvests bladderwrack seaweed from the coasts under a new moon or full moon when the tide is low. She then sun-dries it to retain all of its salts and minerals. I then take it, pulse it, and add it to our tallow soap base with local calendula and luxurious neroli essential oil. Candle, the Pure unscented, and our soon-to-be-released Vanilla Nectar tallow candle with pure vanilla bean and Peru balsam essential oil.

Q: What are some of your morning rituals?

A: I'm a mother of two amazing daughters, and I'm lucky to be working here in our unique home/workspace in Oakland. After I dropped the kids off at school, I had to go to our local YMCA and hit the sauna, followed by a cold plunge. This is where I slather on Trauma balm and sweat out everything. I then swim about half a mile. I think about my day and dream up new products to make with tallow for summer solace.

Q: What are your favorite ways to consume/waste less?

A: Shop at the farmers' markets, eat locally, eat regionally and organically, cook your meals at home, eat with love, compost, reduce plastic use, reuse your jars, and bring your bags to the store. Recycle. :)

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