Interview with brand-owner, artist, and witch: HagRoot

We’re back with another interview with an inspiring indie brand owner. HagRoot is a brand that has always caught my eye for their individualistic visual style and deep root in witchcraft. Her site offers a huge variety of oils, herbal remedies, teas, tools, jewelry, and art. Have you ever seen Penny Dreadful? If you have, there is a witch I love in that show named Joan Clayton. She acts as a teacher and mother-figure to the main character in the show – Vanessa. Her cottage and general energy remind me greatly of Hagroot’s work. I also am reminded of the original Blair Witch Project and all the gifts that the witch left for the lost filmmakers. I’ll add photos below to show you what I mean.

The Cottage from Penny Dreadful
From Blair Witch Project (1999)

The interview with HagRoot was even more interesting than I expected, and I truly enjoyed learning more about the process and inspiration behind this unique brand. I hope you enjoy it!

IM: Can you start by telling us the story of your brand and how HagRoot was born? What was your journey like before that?

HR: I have always been a loner and spent most of my time in nature or making things. When I was around 8 years old I went around my neighborhood picking peoples flowers, which I dried, packaged and then sold back to them as potpourri. I was trying to raise money to donate to a charity that helped animals in need. At the time I didn’t realize what I was doing was a bit shady. I was more focused on trying to help the animals and less on the fact that time and money was spent on growing the flowers. That was my first experience with selling my creations. After that I began selling my (ethically sourced) art and herbal goods at local festivals and in 2010 I opened my first shop on Etsy. That’s when I began creating oils. Over the past 10 years my style and my creations have really evolved. When I first started on Etsy,  I drew all the oil labels myself and colored every single one of them with colored pencils. As my business grew I had to start finding more efficient ways of doing things but I wanted to still keep the handmade vibe. Today my labels are printed but I still write the oil names on them by hand and I try to make each order feel really personal and special. In 2015 I began to truly accept myself for who I was. I started to value the dark, wild and less “acceptable” parts of myself. This is when HagRoot was born. It’s a name that I gave to myself and my brand. To me, this name represents embracing the untamed, wiser aspects of ourselves, returning to our roots and seeing the beauty in the “ugly”. When the name came to me it felt like an ancient remembering. Like a name that I have always had.

IM: The opening image for your page really blew me away. Did you create that all physically? Your logo for HagRoot perfectly matches your brand – did you draw it by hand?

HR: Thank you. I love photography and creating scenes to photograph. Most of my photos contain items that I’ve found in nature. I almost always have a pocket or bag full of rocks, sticks, feathers, and bones. I also love antiques and the stories that go with them so you’ll often see old books, keys, lace, handwritten letters…etc in my photos.

The Logo on HagRoot’s Site
IM: What is your best selling fragrance?  What’s another one you’d like more people to know about? 

HR: People seem to be drawn the most to Plague Doctor, Baba Yaga, and Papa Legba. There are actually three that I wish more people would try. Vision Quest which is a very spiritual/sacred blend, Shapeshifter is a dark, mysterious, and smoky blend and Yemaya which has a very ocean/powerful goddess (Orisha) vibe. I actually have a snake that I named Yemaya.

Perfume Oil Sample Vials
IM: I’m curious to learn more about your process of creating oil blends. Where do you gather your ingredients? What is your workspace like? 

HR: My workspace is a wood cabin that’s nestled in a patch of juniper trees. It’s pretty rustic and tucked away in nature, which I love. The inside has curry colored walls and basically looks like a giant altar. I work in various mediums so I’ve created areas to keep me focused and organized. I have a space for product photography, a space for painting and jewelry making, and a space where I create my oils and package up orders. It’s very functional without compromising the feel of a sacred space. I responsibly gather as many of my supplies as possible from nature. The rest are bought online. Over the years I’ve found several companies that have become my go-to for most of my supplies. I prefer smaller companies that are eco-conscious and are concerned with the welfare of animals. All of the animal products that I use are salvaged and I don’t buy from companies that test on animals.

IM: I see that most of your oils are named after gods, goddesses, and deities. Do you work with these deities when creating the blends? Is there any ritual to invoke them during that process? 

HR: I don’t really have a set ritual. I just become open and then I visualize them and when I sense their energy is there I ask them about themselves and what ingredients I should use. After that, I usually understand what vibe that I need to create to represent them and what ingredients will achieve that energy.

IM: You offer beautiful tools and blends for ritual magic work. I work a lot with the pendulum and see you offer them on your site! Do you use any divination tools and processes within the creation of your products?

HR: In my personal life I use divination tools now and then but I mostly go off of intuition. A lot of the time I will feel guided to create certain things. Almost like the universe is telling me when things need to be made, what their purpose is, and what ingredients or materials to use. I used to question this guidance but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to accept the things that are unseen and unexplainable and just go with the flow.

Some of HagRoot’s Jewelry
IM: In your Global Goods section, you offer artisanal hand-made products from around the world. How do you source these products?

HR: Those are actually things that I bought for a brick and mortar shop that my mom and I had a few years ago. It was a neat little shop in the downtown area called Cosmic Crow Collective. We had live music, tarot readings, classes, and moon circles. We featured a lot of local artists and also had a few fair trade items.

IM: You rescue and rehabilitate snakes – most people are unaware of how horribly snakes are treated by breeders, and that there are many snakes who need homes and rehabilitation. Can you talk about the bond you share with snakes, how you began to care for snakes who needed a home, and how they inspire your work?

HR: Thank you so much for this question and for helping to spread awareness on this issue. I adopted my first snake about 5 years ago. He was a two-year-old ball python that was no longer wanted by the family that bought him. I took in a few more snakes after him that the people could no longer care for. Then I started to take in ones that were abused, malnourished, and neglected. These snakes were much different and I really had to become what I consider a snake whisperer. I had to connect with them on an energetic and almost telepathic level to understand how to help them the best that I could. This was such a transformative time for me and for them. We gained each other’s trust and I sensed when to feed them, when to handle them and when to give them space. I would hold them and fill them with energy of love and safety. I could tell that they understood and they felt it. They are such amazing creatures. You can see the ancient wisdom in their eyes and feel it radiating from them. As of today, I have twelve snakes that live with me every one of them is healthy, happy, and thriving. Watching them transform into the snakes that they are now has been the most humbling and rewarding experience and I am beyond grateful for it. They are my medicine and my muse. They calm and ground me. Their energy keeps me connected to other realms and to the sacredness of life. I have a page on my website with photos and information on caring for them.

HagRoot’s Snakes from her Website
IM: I feel deeply connected to your artwork – what is your process and what materials do you use for your paintings? Did you begin painting before or after you began crafting oils and sundries for HagRoot?

HR: I’ve been painting since I was a kid. The style that I have now is pretty close to the style that I’ve had since I was a teenager but I just recently began sharing it with the world. I wasn’t ready until now to share that side of myself I suppose. Painting is my therapy. It’s how I release my demons and let go of toxic thoughts and emotions. Painting is one of the forms of shadow work that I use.I use a variety of materials. Usually, it’s just what calls to me at the time. My favorite materials are old book pages, acrylic paint, inks, and oil pastels.

A Painting by HagRoot titled “Holding On”
IM: On the topic of art, do you have any artists, musicians, or authors who inspire your work?

HR: I’m not sure if they inspire my work really but some of my favorites are Brian Froud, old school Tori Amos and Joanna Newsom. I also love to zen out and create to haunting cello music. As far as authors, there are way too many to list. I’m usually reading 3-4 books at a time and rarely finishing any of them. I think that books and words in general inspire me. I don’t read a lot of fiction. It’s mostly books on spirituality, natural healing, creativity and mindful living.

IM: Finally, what do you envision for HagRoot in the future? Do you have long-term goals and visions?

HR: Even though I’m a loner I always envision HagRoot becoming a community project. I hope to have a space in the near future where I can have women’s circles, classes, and a space to work one on one with people. I would love to get back to doing readings and energy work and maybe even hosting small pop-up markets. 

Photo of HagRoot

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