Light pours into the huge storefront windows on the corner of Shippen and New Streets in downtown Lancaster as Christi Albert sits behind what will be the checkout counter of her new holistic wellness shop, Ellister’s Elixers. She has just been handed the keys to the space, and her face is beaming. She’s ready to get to work, making her first permanent location everything she dreamed it would be. It’s been a seven-year journey filled with countless hours of education, travel, and saving for Christi to get to this point, and she can’t wait to get started.
After high school, Christi graduated from Penn State, where she received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Bio-Behavioral Health. “That’s what really got me interested in health and wellness,” Christi says, “but what sets it apart from traditional medicine is that we studied how our behavior affects health. How can we adjust our lifestyle in order to be healthier?”
Wanting to learn more about natural health, “I ended up doing a lot of traveling—backpacking all around Central and South Americas, learning a lot about their spirituality and different tribal remedies, herbs, and ceremonies,” Christi explains. She then ended up in India, where she spent six months studying meditation and yoga practices and learning about Ayurveda, the idea of mind, body, and spiritual wellness intertwining with each other. “I was just so fascinated by all of it, and felt so connected with it, and I felt like it was something that really needed to be shared with the rest of the world.”
With the goal of sharing her knowledge with friends and family back home, Christi collected various herbs, oils, and other supplies on her travels. When she returned to the United States, she started experimenting, creating organic and cruelty-free skincare items, oil rollers, and tinctures in her basement. She also extensively researched the benefits of hemp-based CBD oil, and started including the oil in many of her products.
“CBD comes from the hemp plant, which does not grow flowers,” notes Christi. “Flowers are the buds that people traditionally smoke, but there are actually no buds on this plant. With CBD oil, the THC content is next to nothing, but we still get all the benefits of reducing inflammation, pain relief, helping to balance neurotransmitters, helping mood and neurological disorders… You can get all the benefits and still feel like yourself.”
Once Christi was happy with her products, she started an Etsy page. “I started selling things online and doing different craft shows. The reaction was great,” she says. Her CBD oil products were especially popular—with everyone from grandparents to mothers looking for help for their children. “People were really receptive to it, because they’re frustrated with their health right now. They’re looking for an alternative because the traditional path with Western medicine isn’t working for them… We’re so disconnected from the earth now that we don’t really understand our body flow, because we don’t quite understand the flow of life as much. We’re not planting or growing our own food. We’re not in the elements.”
“By adjusting our spirituality and our lifestyle and our emotional wellbeing, we can adjust our health,” Christi continues, gesturing to the space around her. “One of my goals in this shop is to teach people… help people learn their natural body types and how to adjust their lifestyles in order to live healthier in full mind, body, and spirit wellness. I just want to be able to talk to people and have them be able to come in and ask me questions.”
It’s the idea of connection that excites Christi the most about finally having a brick-and-mortar space to share her years of travel and study with the community of Lancaster, and her enthusiasm is infectious as she talks about the possibilities for the future of Ellister’s Elixers.
“The symbol of my business is the endless knot. It is the union of compassion and wisdom, and that is one of my biggest goals in my business, is to use wisdom and share that wisdom compassionately. To actually have conversations with people—not like when you go in a doctor’s office for five minutes and they’re like, ‘What’s your name again?’—I want to know people in the community and connect with them and I want this to be a safe space for them to come and be able to talk with me about their wellness and connect with other people who are interested in the same things… to just be healthier and happier.”