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female entrepreneurs

why I started a travel wellness business that backs reforestation

Written by Gabriela Délano-Stephens

One of my earliest memories is a travel wellness ritual dispensed by my Chilean mother: a daily dose of grapefruit seed extract and Spirulina in my morning juice. My British father hated drinking it, but neither of us questioned the wisdom of these natural remedies. And they really worked. Despite the annual air travel between Chile and Canada, where our family called home, none of us ever got sick.

Later, in my twenties, I was instructed on the benefits of Cat’s Claw, Sarsaparilla and Dragons Blood by an Ecuadorian shaman before flying to Southeast Asia. I faithfully followed his daily prescription for three months and never got sick (a rare feat for westerners traveling East).

These and other early encounters inspired my fascination with plant medicine and nutritional health, an ever-evolving frontier where old wisdom and new science have incredible potential to enhance our wellbeing, especially while on the go.

Local Time formulas are informed by my profession as a holistic nutritionist. Just as my insatiable love of travel was seeded at an early age, so was my dismay at how the environments, practices and products related to flying conspired to sabotage my health. Logging countless hours in airports, runways and flights, I became obsessed with finding ways to beat jet lag, combat radiation and boost immunity and gut health. Weaving ancient plant medicine remedies with modern nutritional practices, I began trying micronutrient blends and measuring with exacting focus what worked best for my body.

When I found the right combination, I evangelized the benefits to my adventure-seeking friends. They wanted in. I started to wonder if this could be a viable business idea. But I only wanted to start a company if we could build a conscious brand with a regenerative impact.

If it weren’t for the thrilling idea of building a company that could harness the economic power of every potential consumer to create positive ripples of regeneration, I might never have created one at all. This is where having a co-pilot is mission critical; Local Time’s co-founder Reinier Halbertsma brought his expertise and efforts to the creation of Local Time in an essential interval, that got it off the ground.

Yet the essence of Local Time is deeply rooted in my childhood as the daughter of an ecologist and an entrepreneur who felt at home in both the Americas. Growing up between the forested landscapes of Southern Chile and British Columbia, I developed a deep appreciation for the cultural contexts that shape our connection to ourselves and to nature. I witnessed my parents mobilize a successful community movement to protect the ancient forests of Clayoquot Sound in Tofino, Canada. Meanwhile, in the other hemisphere, they were building relationships throughout Chile to preserve large tracts of native forests in Araucanía that were under threat by development and extraction. The notion of both environmental stewardship and global citizenship feel like birthrights, and the protection and regeneration of forests is a natural extension of my early activism.

As we like to say at Local Time, what if everyone traveled with trees in mind?

Just as flying creates imbalance in the body, air travel disrupts the planet’s carbon balance. When your flight takes off, carbon emissions go up, but forests draw them down. While I understand that the solution is very complex – and carbon offsetting is not the answer – trees represent one of our greatest allies in working to restore the carbon cycle balance of the planet.  

Every tree counts, which is why we’re paying each purchase forward to support the protection and regeneration of forests. Choosing to support the Tree Sisters – which focuses on women and reforestation – deepened our sense of commitment to what’s possible in building a company and a community of conscious travelers. We want it to be normal for everyone to keep both personal, and planetary, wellbeing in mind.  

To echo Tree Sisters, our choice to focus on reforestation is about funding the acceleration of tropical reforestation as an expression of collective planetary care.

I get a thrill every time someone discovers us or tells me (sometimes with surprise) how well our formulas work. But what makes my heart race is the prospect of what’s possible as we harness our economic power, and that of our customers, to advance the change we want to see.

We agree it’s time to create a reforestation revolution.

Revolution is in the air, in my native Chile, and across the world. It’s not a reach to see how the worldwide protests and grievances relate inextricably to our climate crisis. And, despite the complexity of the problem, every solution requires a deeper acknowledgement that our wellbeing – personal and planetary – is deeply interconnected.  


As told to Welling Savo Justin