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Wear Your Medicine

by Feifei Sun

A belief in the healing power of plants led an energy healer to create a line made from nettles to help a community in the Himalayas

Mary Wutz, founder of Seam Siren, a clothing and accessories collection made from 100 percent wildcrafted nettle fiber, has long believed in the power of plants. The 33-year-old grew up the daughter (and granddaughter) of avid gardeners, but it wasn’t until she got a parasite at 22 that she really began exploring their healing and restorative properties.

While on a sailing trip, Wutz caught a tapeworm that had eaten a significant part of her stomach lining by the time doctors detected it. “My hair was falling out, and I was having constant panic attacks because my body wasn’t absorbing nutrients from food,” she says. Extremely sensitive to over-the-counter medications, Wutz turned to herbal teas as a form of medicine. “I couldn’t believe something as simple as meadowsweet tea got me to normal,” she says. “Plants healed me, and that experience turned into a two-year process of eating cleanly, managing stressful situations, and living more healthily.”

Wutz’s company, founded in 2014, is a product of her desire to share that healing. “As I worked more and more with clients, I realized it’s hard to get someone to drink tea three times a day,” she says. “I started to think: Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could just put on a piece of clothing and wear your medicine?”

Seam Siren works with artisans in the Koshi district of Nepal, east of Kathmandu, to create handmade shawls, bags, wallets, belts and other accessories from nettle. Wutz chose the fiber because of its fortifying and protective energy. “It’s like nature’s multivitamin,” she says. The nettle yarn used in Seam Siren products is 100 percent wildcrafted and processed by hand with no chemicals. Dye palettes are chosen to reflect the seasons and practices of Chromatherapy, an alternative medicine approach that uses color and light to boost balance and well-being. After being designed in Nepal, products are then shipped to Portland, OR, for production and finishing touches, like organic seed paper and hemp tags printed with soy ink.

In the Himalayas, Wutz has found more than a design center for Seam Siren, she’s found a family. “The first time I went to Nepal, I met the most welcoming, friendly women and communities,” she says. “They immediately embraced me.” So when a devastating earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people in Nepal in 2015, Wutz knew she wanted to give back and help rebuild the community and land that had lifted her. Using Crowdrise, Wutz launched a fundraiser and raised nearly $10,000 for funds to rebuild schools and purchase paper, pencils and other supplies in the Bala Village of Nepal. After the success of her initial campaign, Wutz committed to dedicating all profits from the Seam Siren shawls to Nepal through an ongoing fund.

“It’s important for me to introduce a stream of revenue into the village so kids want to stay and invest in its growth,” she says. “Too often kids leave for other cities to pursue jobs, and there isn’t a reason they should have to do that.” Elsewhere, Seam Siren is developing a mentorship program for seasoned artisans to train younger women on storied weaving techniques. As Wutz knows better than anyone, it takes a village.


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