When Casey-Jean Miller was just 21 years old, she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Desperate to find relief for her symptoms and make her way back to feeling healthy, she focused on her diet. She began making all her food from scratch and getting in touch with where the food she was eating was grown. She learned how to make bone broth, developed a recipe for a “nomato” sauce with beets and carrots instead of tomato, and experimented with grain- and dairy-free baking.
“I had a lot of fun with the process and began to feel better,” she remembers. “It was such a pivotal time. I could have just accepted the diagnosis and taken my medicine and that would have been that. But I had something within me that knew I deserved better. My body deserved better, and I just had to figure that out.”
That was almost 10 years ago. Today, Miller has gotten a handle on her health and made it her mission to help others feel good from the inside out with her business Jean’s Apothecare. What started as playing around with organic ingredients in the kitchen eventually evolved into a lifelong pursuit of holistic health as an herbalist and therapeutic yoga instructor. Through Jean’s Apothecare, Miller sells everything from aromatherapy roll-ons and body butter to herbal tea, lip balm, bath soaks, and candles. Each product is handcrafted in small batches by Miller herself and made with organic and responsibly sourced botanicals.
Miller jokes that her now thriving business started out as the side hustle to her side hustle. In 2016, she was working full-time at a nonprofit, while growing her yoga business on the side. She added Jean’s Apothecare to her busy schedule after gifting a few handmade products to friends and realizing their incredible potential to improve people’s lives. For example, she gifted body butter to a friend struggling with eczema. That friend found immediate relief and then offered the balm to a coworker whose nose was rubbed raw during a bad cold. Soon, Miller had several requests for products and she could no longer ignore the call.
“Friends were saying, you really need to do this,” she says. “I think there was something within me that knew that and felt that, but I was scared to own it. But being championed by friends and remembering how when I was first diagnosed, I just wanted to feel better but didn’t know what that looked like helped me. Realizing that I could be that source of support and care for other people made me dive right in.”
Over the next several years, Miller quietly built up her business in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she lived at the time, selling at pop-ups, events, and eventually at a few select retailers around town. She decided to step into the business full-time in 2019, and then the pandemic hit.
“Like with so many people, it felt like we were starting our business over again,” Miller says.
Miller knew she eventually wanted to sell her products online, so she took the pandemic as an excuse to start the process. By the time the year was over, Jean’s Apothecare products were shipped to 38 states and 12 countries.
Around the same time, Miller also experienced another life-altering event. Her father unexpectedly passed at the end of 2019. The combination of that news and the pandemic led her to return to the homestead in Pickens County, Alabama where she grew up. Three years later, she’s made the move permanent. “Coming home was exactly that,” she says. “I was able to heal from that loss and there’s something really special about growing my business in my family home.”
And grow it has. In addition to her original line of aromatherapy products, plus bath and body care goods, Miller has recently returned to her roots and begun offering culinary products. She started with herbal, black and green tea blends, and now is also selling infused honeys, oils, and herbal seasonings. She’s expanding her popular Calm the F*** Down aromatherapy line with a new candle in October and focusing on increasing her footprint in Alabama with new stockists in Birmingham, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, and Florence. Currently, you can find her goods at Turbo Coffee locations in Tuscaloosa, as well as at House Plant Collective locations in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. Miller has also been experimenting with planting and growing herbs on the homestead. By 2025, she hopes to source a few herbs and flowers for her products from her family farm.
“I love the creativity that I get to play with every day,” Miller says of her business and its future. “I love that things I created through the years have become a daily part of peoples’ lives. The creating and formulating feels like writing a melody, so it feels really special to be able to share those and see so many people enjoy and benefit from them.”