Marta Bourke talks about

MAGIC IN THE CRYSTALS at Natural Treasure

with Norman Warwick

When our Sidetracks And Detours management team were on route to explore a re-opened and newly refurbished  installation, Islote de Firmina in Arrecife, that we had read about in the local press,  we were,attracted instead by the perfumes emanating from a shop, also recently opened, called Natural Treasure, directly opposite The Gran Hotel. The premises is owned and run by Marta Bourke and it is crammed with Amber Jewellery, Crystals, Gifts and Natural Cosmetics and you can find them on facebook at naturaltreasurelanzarote,

This was quite a prime site, we would think, with residents stepping out from the hotels that encircle the shop as well as a busy footfall of local residents on their way to and from work from one side of the ´city´ to the other. And, of course, we must not forget those cruise liner passengers, with their deep pockets, who tour the waterfront with their deep pockets.

Marta was a delight to talk to and clearly had an interesting back-story to tell. So, we offered a brief preview to our readers of her shops and stock in a post called The Road To Nowhere Or Everywhere, published on Ist March and still available in our easy to negotiate archives of over 900 major stories.  We therefore arranged an interview, which we conducted a couple of months, later on May 10th 2023 and we fulfil our promise by posting the story today

Good morning, Marta, we´re speaking in a wonderful setting filled by arts and artefacts, I guess we could say, and  I know that you have a special relationship with the place. Would you like to explain why?

When I opened the shop I was at first thinking of selling amber jewellery. That´s what I was concentrating on, from Poland, and perhaps also some natural cosmetics, incence and candles and  locally hand-made soaps, but from my very first day I also listened to my customers. More and more people were asking me if had a stock of any crystals,

I had always loved crystals, since being a girl, but you know, I had never found the time or a way to fit that into my working life. But my customers were asking and so I decided to bring this passion into my workplace and as soon as I introduced crystals into my shop its popularity increased.

It is amazing how many people are into crystals and are searching for natural healings and remedies through crystals. Of course, crystals have been offering healing and providing remedy for thousands of years. Funnily enough I watched on tv the coronation of King Charles 111 recently and the symbolism of crystals and natural oils was constant throughout the service. The golden carriage, to me represented angels. I have always believed that angels exist for our good and there was that symbolism on this incredible occasion. And the crowns were made of all that crystal symbolism, of diamonds and rubies.

Herbal remedies, too, go back thousands of years and people who practiced them in early societies were deemed witches, associated with evil, but these witches knew what they practiced and saw the healing powers of these herbs.

I understand that we´re talking to you on what is quite a significant day for your shop, Natural Treasure.

Yes. Today is exactly one year since we opened, and I am still ambitious. I´d like to open a second shop on the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire border, close to where I lived in England for more than thirty years. However, the pandemic put up a barrier against that. There were no people around and no goods were available in England, So the time wasn´t right. But for me it was maybe meant to be,  because in that time I came here and saw empty shops and opportunities.

So you´ve talked about how you arrived here, and how you opened this shop and how your business has grown in that year. You have also very wisely consulted your customers as you served them, so constantly learning about their requirements So can you easily identify your demographics of age, gender, nationality indigenous or tourist and what social status etc?

Oh my goodness. Everybody. I have had children as young as eight years old who come in knowing so much about crystals. Last week I had a couple in from France with their eight year old son, and my goodness he knew everything about every different crystal. I was so surprised. And of course there are so many nationalities. We have new residents from several countries as does the UK, and the Canarian people consider themselves independent of Spain, and of course here in the capital Arrecife, we get tourists from all over the world, mostly those who have come on package holidays and others who have arrived on cruise liners and are perhaps only here for the one day ashore. My customers are from the USA, Canada, Europe, you name it. There are Polish people, like me, and there are English and Irish so my customers are from all over the world.

In terms of age groups my customers genuinely range from eight year olds to eighty year olds,

photo Your shop is very beautiful and seems to me to be quite artfully laid out. I´m guessing you change the display from time to time and that the way the goods are displayed generates sales?

Yes, I try to make visual combinations of items that complement each other of course. I can sometimes include things from outside to add colour or interest, like olivine stones, and lava on the bracelets and that being so natural to Lanzarote interests local shoppers, and tourists, and those off the cruises sometimes. I have incense burning sometimes and that attracts people in, if only to ask what that smell or aroma is. Butterflies and bracelets, sun catchers and dream catchers all add to the colour and the atmosphere of the place. We are not a very big shop in terms of floor space, but we have all sorts of shelves and tables and wall space to put things on and I think it looks inviting from the doorway and that helps  of  course to attract customers and to generate sales. And we have a couple of large side windows, so people walking by can see in from all angles and hopefully something catches their eye. In fact quite often it is the wallpaper on this wall that catches their eye.

The wall paper Marta is referring to, is a tall-tree, sun beam lit forest very like those we recently saw when we  walked through a similar scenario on a stop on a Canarian cruise liner at the island of La Palma, that that offered one of most beautiful and peaceful views I have ever lookde out upon. Marta seems pretty good at creating this calming atmosphere even as she speaks so passionately and excitedly about a shop that clearly captures all her life-passions,

It is very clear that Marta is not selling sausages and pork chops and I tell her that and how I think that Marta is obviously, at heart, an artist.

That is funny that you mention sausages and pork chops because I had a restaurant business for twenty years in London and I had one in Spain too ! That was hard work although I enjoyed the college restaurant in London, but it was hard work ! Working for a while as a diet chef made me aware enough to change my own diet etc., and to take more nutrition you know. I still love studying the history of food, and still love cooking, even though I´ve probably been on every diet there is, raw, vegan, you name, and my favourite was the fish and chips diet ! But it had always been in the back of my mind to have a shop of crystals and beauty and serenity and of the essentials that make us happy,

So did you know what you wanted to do but were unable to find the route, or do you think your life has really been a natural progression to where you are now?

I believe that whatever you hold dearly to your heart or firmly in your mind will eventually draw you to your right place at the right time. I mean I had been talking all this over with my husband for two or three years, about my passion for crystals and how much I would love to have a crystal shop of my own. But any vacant properties during the pandemic in our part of England were being very quickly snapped up. We came over here on holiday and we saw this premises standing empty on the side of the main road through Arrecife, the capital of the island. Not only can passers-by see into the shop but I can see out from here to the ocean and the palm trees and blue skies. So the following day my husband and I talked it over. I told him I had found a shop and I wanted it and he said go for it !

It has not been easy. I have worked all year round, alone in the shop, to build the business and today, a year later, despite the heat and the calimas, I am certain I made the right decision.

You obviously have a good idea of your clientele, and how and why they come to you but what do you do to reach them, Do you advertise in any way:?

I do use my facebook and stuff but to be honest my greatest method of communication is talking. I love to talk to people a lot, including to my customers, and to quite a few of them I have become a sort of confidant or adviser. People ask for help, maybe with, you , a love problem or a relationship problem or a health problem. They even,…well, for instance yesterday I had a lady came in and said her auntie has cancer, and what crystal would you recommend.?

Its an interesting development. For many, many centuries people have been helped by nature and we maybe lost something when we turned to medical science and doctors. We can change diets, we can go to live by the seaside or take long walks through the forests and all that is nature.

When nothing works any more people perhaps are looking back slightly to earlier times, asking how I can feel better, how I can relax, how can I find love.

I even have a lady who is a psychologist who comes to me for advice and I have scientists in America asking me which crystals I recommend for certain issues.

The lady who has the relative suffering from cancer asked you for advice because she has tried all modern, conventional medicine but nothing had worked, and so asked you to recommend a less conventional (or certainly less modern) treatment because she trusted your advice?

Yes, that´s pretty much it, I think I realised what a demand and need there is for such methods when I tried to sell relevant problems on line during the pandemic. In truth, because of cost of deliveries and travel constraints etc it was impossible for us to keep up with that massive calling,… but now, here in this shop, I can at least serve the customers I have and listen to them and help wherever I can. When all hope seemed lost during the pandemic many people were seeking natural remedies and were trying to serve them from our home in England but the demand exceeded our limitations even though we were working very long hours. Then, one day, one  the scientists who was on tv all the time, actually recommended the kind of juices we were delivering. You can imagine how busy we then became. The nurses and doctors in the hospitals did all they could but as peoplebecame more scared and bean to lose hope they looked at alternatives or parallel source. Nature !

So after your first year on site here, how satisfied are you with the way that year has gone and how confident are you that you have built a platform that can support you in bringing about some of the changes in awareness and attitudes that you would like to see?

Genuinely, 100% ! And that even takes into account how deliveries we should expect to be here within 24 hours can somehow sometimes take 3 weeks, even though they are coming from Spain which is a three hour flight !.I feel I made absolutely the right decision to take on this business, and I am looking forward to introducing more herbs.

As a girl in Poland, I used to run around the fields picking nettles and things and making juices and teas from them. You know, camomile and stuff like that. We don´t really get natural herbs here on the island but we get rosemary, from which I made some smudge the other day. I use sage as well and inter-bacterial sage.

The ´smudges´ Marta showed me looked almost like hand-sized sheafs of hay that we would see in the UK at the end of the summer harvest festivals. 

Given that this was the first anniversary of Natural Treasure I wondered what was there in the stock on the shelves, tables or walls that might reflect that theme of anniversary.

Well, my favourite is the amber crystal, which was recommended for thyroid problems and I remember my mum was always telling us that. I was a young girl, then. I never listened. Amber is an import product now as the centre of a huge industry in Poland serving the demand from countries like Switzerland for their own cosmetics industries.

As she was telling me this Marta (left, holding the amber crystal) was walking around the shop picking up samples of bracelets and necklaces all hand made from crystal, and she dangled them in front of me, saying they were perfect to give to lady for an anniversary !

Amber goes back forty five million years of course. So, in Poland, we made remedies from amber, and I believe that if a lady wears amber jewellery to an event it helps her glow.

So my plans for my second year of this business are to introduce more herbs into stock. And of course, on Lanzarote, we have cacti and aloe vera, which are very remedial and actually create my own home-made remedies and from my garden. You can put it on your skin as an oil or drink it to help with digestive problems and other health issues. Its very high in colegen, so it is good for skin, nails and hair. I cut off a piece of cactus in my garden , clean it blend it with lemon juice and water and that´s what I drink. And, remember, everything in nature is free.

I told Marta that when I had first noticed her shop a few weeks ago I had mentally labelled it as an arts retail shop, being totally unaware of these healthy life-style benefits, I asked her, therefore, whether her customers might not recognise that the shop very much works on both fronts.

I suppose they might not realise at first why entering the shop makes them feel so good. Some people believe in Budha or Holy Cow or whatever, and I believe in the healing power of crystals. I think people sense that when they have been in the shop for a few minutes !

I cannot imagine my life not being around crystals. There is a sensation when touching a crystal, like touching the sun and you can feel it. The one you are holding now is from the Amazon river. I am learning more about this all the time

If someone comes to me with a sleep deprivation problem I give them amethyst. Or if they have broken up with their boyfriend I give them Canarian as this for healing the heart.

I wonder if, when mixing her remedies and herbal drinks etc, Marta is being an artist or an alchemist.

Both ! I grew up in Poland playing in the fields and watched my mother picking camomile or mint and make us a tea or a drink or a sauce. She would sometimes pick nettles and tell us to boil them to give us a beautiful hair. I grew up in a Poland in which we didn´t go running to the shops for everything. If we were hungry my brother and I would dig a carrot out of the earth, clean it up, and eat it raw ! That was our B12, the real thing, not a supplement. A carrot is your vitamin and mineral.

It’s a long time ago now, but I seem to remember being taught about a Poland that to felt  almost diametrically the opposite of those images. I envisaged  an industrial country, surely.?

My husband is British and when I met him he thought Poland was part of Russia.  When I eventually took him to Poland he loved it and so did I. I have the childhood memories we have spoken of but over the past thirty years Poland has developed rapidly and is a lovely country, of which I´m very proud.

When I was so busy running my restaurants and life in the UK was so busy, I didn´t really have time to reflect on my childhood, but here in this shop I can look back on days of running barefoot and picking fruit from the garden for tea, or the strawberries and raspberries my mother had nurtured.

So I guess that my shop, helping with remedies for others, helps me feel relaxed and allows me to remember, in a way that is very good for my own mental health !

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