Dirt Witch is an incredible Pagan-owned brand that uses natural ingredients and the owner’s knowledge of herbalism to create skincare and self-care products. We did a brand profile and review a few months ago, and I was blown away by their products, especially their aluminum-free deodorant!
Interview with the Founder of Dirt Witch
We’re grateful for the opportunity to interview the owner, Jacqueline McClure, about starting her business, her path as a witch, and what it’s like to operate a small business.
Witchcraft’s Role in Dirt Witch
As your company’s name suggests, you’re a witch. (Same!) When did you first discover your path as a witch?
You know it’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment. At the risk of being cliche, one could say it’s always been a part of my life.
I remember as a child my neighbor and I would be gone for hours and hours, creating our own little worlds in the woods between our homes. We would mix up potions and create scenes together there, tramping in the creek and casting spells on the world.
A little later in life, around the age of 13, my parents got divorced. As my family became fragmented, I suppose I was searching for something to help me make sense of the world and to feel empowered in some way. It was through our newly acquired computer with AOL dialup disks that I discovered Wicca. I collected things from around my mom’s house and made a little altar in a hutch cabinet in my room. I printed off incantations and would “recite” in efforts to spellcast, but I was young and really had no idea what I was doing, there was not any real intention there, it was more exploratory, imitative, and fun.
In my late teens and early twenties, I was introduced to various spiritual ideologies, and practices like yoga, breathwork, meditation, and also psychedelics were a large part of my “awakening”; and knowing that there was something larger at play in the world than I couldn’t really comprehend.
Just as I was entering my Saturn Return, I had recently returned to the PNW after wandering around North America for 6 months or so. At that point, I had several intense inexplicable experiences that offered me some gnosis. Rather than “believing” something I had read in a book or learned from another person I had something undeniably real and tangible that was my own. In an effort to understand and embody these experiences I was re-introduced to magick and occultism.
Through that inquiry, I became serious in my study and my practice of witchcraft. Which ultimately led me to launch Dirt Witch in 2018.
The other aspect of your name speaks to your passion for the earth and experience as an herbalist. When did you first start learning about herbalism and folk remedies?
My paternal grandparents had a farm in Georgia, there is a lot of southern Appalachian lore and energy that permeates the land there. I would spend my summers with them, which gave me some access to the old ways. I learned a lot about tending land and doing things with intention and care.
It was there, exploring an old shed on my grandparent’s farm that I discovered a collection of the FoxFire Books. That really hooked me, it was beautiful to see the practices of homesteading, plant medicine, and using natural materials. The books are written in the dialect of the people in southern Appalachia. I was enthralled by the documentation of those people and having a glimpse into their lives.
That led me to a more serious exploration into plant medicines and plant spirits. I was loosely interested in herbalism for many years and finally went to herb school in 2016. Since then it’s been an ongoing passion and I feel a life-long journey to deeper knowledge and experience.
Incorporating Earth Stewardship into Dirt Witch
Earth stewardship is a core value of Dirt Witch. What does this mean, and what do you do to uphold that value?
When I first started my business I was literally living in a shack in someone’s backyard (not joking). I was a land steward on that 2.5-acre property and during that time gardening and herbalism kind of took over my life.
I was able to start Dirt Witch with just a vision, some inspiration, and the plants that were growing on the land there. My first products were made with the herbs that I grew on that land and some recycled tincture bottles.
I have grown a lot since then but the same core values of Earth stewardship and living in the right relationship with the earth hold true. They are a sort of guidepost for me with making decisions.
Earth stewardship as a philosophy means that we are uncompromising in our sourcing practices. We are willing to pay more for high-quality ethically sourced ingredients in order to make sure that small farmers with regenerative practices take precedence. We only use organic ingredients and are able to offset the carbon emissions through our local supplier.
It is important to me that my business maintain this level of integrity especially as we grow. I’d like to be able to model that you can have a highly effective and successful beauty brand without compromising your values.
I know that if I take care of the earth the earth takes care of me.
Going off the last question, sustainability is also a core value of Dirt Witch. What choices do you make as a business to reduce waste?
There is a lot of buzz about sustainability in the beauty and wellness space today. It is important to me that we walk the walk and approach sustainability from a holistic approach.
Purchasing our herbs, ingredients, and packaging supplies in bulk allows us to minimize excessive packaging from our raw materials, we even shred our excessive cardboard and use it in the compost at our production studio. Sourcing our organic herbs bio-regionally eliminates a lot of travel and fuel. Another big one is that we compost all of our raw materials and plant waste after our extracts are made. We use reusable glass and aluminum packaging and all of our products are biodegradable and compostable as well.
“Being a part of that and witnessing the inner workings of business in action rocked my world. I had never seen anything quite like it before. It showed me what is really possible and how a business can be a conduit for building community, crafting an amazing product, creating change AND economic prosperity without compromising your individuality or your values.”
– Jacqueline McClure, Dirt Witch
Can you tell us about an experience or a person who helped push you forward as a creative and a business owner?
I want to acknowledge Jim Mcguire at Studio 1212 and Jayme Vinyard at Mystic Fables, as they have been pivotal on my path and in showing me what is possible….One person who greatly impacted me was my friend Al Pabst over at TeamScum (another super amazing micro-brand that you should check out…it’s funky and weird and slightly grotesque in all the best ways).
I worked for Al for a couple of years when I was first getting started and he taught me SO much. He was one of the most well-versed environmentalists, he cared deeply about regenerative agriculture and soil conservation and he was a 1000% a wizard in his own right.
At the same time, he was an excellent leader. There was a unique ability to create a community within his company and a lot of effort went into developing the team. He paid his employees really well and the business was an impressively sound operation, he answered ALL of my never-ending questions, offered helpful advice, and also called me on my shit when I needed it!
Being a part of that and witnessing the inner workings of business in action rocked my world. I had never seen anything quite like it before. It showed me what is really possible and how a business can be a conduit for building community, crafting an amazing product, creating change AND economic prosperity without compromising your individuality or your values.
What was a major challenge you’ve faced as a small business owner? How did you overcome it?
The two biggest challenges for me as a small business owner have been imposter syndrome and funding. Honestly, I don’t think that I have, necessarily, overcome either- but I just keep moving forward; one foot in front of the other and slowly, slowly figuring things out and pushing myself and somehow the challenges work themselves out.
At a certain point Dirt Witch and the products speak for themselves and I just have to let go of my own limiting beliefs and let the brand have its own journey. She (Dirt Witch) has her own destiny to fulfill, I am kind of just a facilitator and a guide.
There are SO many amazing brands and creators in the world, it is really important that start-ups are strategic and also unique, which is scary because it is hard to challenge the status quo, but it is a must….otherwise you will get lost in the mix.
What is something you wish others knew about running a small business?
It is REALLY HARD! You will be lonely, you will have to push yourself in ways that you never imagined, and you will constantly have to work to develop your vision and your voice while working to silence your own insecurities, as well as the noise of others. There is a great deal of sacrifice, but it is ABSOLUTELY worth it.
I see it as an alchemical practice, an opportunity to transform yourself from that which you were, into that which you could become and to share yourself with the world in a profound way.
When you make something and sell it, a little part of you is with the people who purchase your products, especially with self-care and beauty products. It is a very intimate exchange, you are in their homes, on their bodies, and a part of their daily lives; to me, that is very meaningful and important!
Let’s say you’re going on a backpacking trip through the Pacific Northwest for a month and you can only bring 3 Dirt Witch products with you. Which products would you choose?
What is your vision for Dirt Witch and where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years?
You know, when I first started my company I was largely focused on herbalism and healing. It was my intention to stay small and just vend at farmer’s markets. I have grown a lot since then and I am really excited about the future.
Through my evolution as a person and a business, I have become OBSESSED with indie beauty and skincare. I hold a vision to meld herbalism with the indie-beauty world…I feel like I have one foot on either side right now with my herbal beauty products so I am learning more about how to integrate the two.
I also am working on developing more content and having a stronger online presence. As I continue to learn and grow, I am looking forward to collaborating with other badass folks working to make their dreams come true and make a mark on the world.
In 5 years, I see Dirt Witch on the shelves of major beauty boutiques and more forefront in the indie beauty world. Expanding our production studio and having more of a presence outside of the Pacific Northwest is a part of that vision.
I also want to create an occult-inspired storefront that offers a place for in-person connection. You can come in for herbal consultations, ritual beauty treatments, and of course Dirt Witch products.
Life is exciting, we have so much creative energy and possibility! I believe that we are capable of so much more than we know and I want to spread that message through my life and my business! Life is short, go make stuff and share it with the world!
This post is not sponsored and none of the links are affiliated.