We Interviewed the Owner of Sea Witch Botanicals

I came across Sea Witch Botanicals a few months ago, when I saw their black lip tint on instagram and immediately bought it, along with their zero waste dish soap. In between then and now, I’ve fallen in love with the brand and their passion for the earth and ocean. Based out of Bellingham, Washington, this brand holds sustainability, fairly sourced natural ingredients, and environmental advocacy at their core. I’m a practicing witch whose always been drawn to the ocean, and as with any witch, is called towards the most sustainable life possible in the modern world. I had so many questions about the brand, I asked the head witch and brand creator, Alesia for an interview, and she graciously agreed.

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IM: I want to start off by asking you how you decided your name. Of course, there are many paths of witchcraft, what draws you to the sea?

A: I am very lucky to have grown up in Bellingham WA which is nestled along the northern-most point of the United States coastline before reaching “north of the wall”. Because of where I grew up I was never far away from the sea. I noticed as I grew older that anytime I went inland, I would literally get sick; it would start with homesickness and soon turn into an actual cold, or headache or something else caused by stress. Every time I returned home I would immediately run to the sea and soak up its nourishing vibes. There is something extremely powerful and raw about the kind of “beaches” we have here in the Pacific Northwest. The coast line is rocky, windy, cold, and absolutely teeming with life.  When I decided to start a soap and cosmetic company my goal was simple: I wanted to keep waterways safe, as they had kept me safe my entire life. To me, being a Sea Witch means that you get your power from the sea and it is your obligation to care for it in return. The ocean is the womb of the world; there are many powerful magic workers, but none holds a bigger responsibility than those who care for the planet. To me the Sea Witch is an embodiment of responsibility, a warrior of the waves, anyone who takes up the mantle of protecting the waterways and using their green magic to make the world a better place. 

IM: How challenging is it as a brand to be almost completely zero waste? Has it taken a lot of trial and error? 

A: Being a towards zero waste company is the most difficult struggle as a small business owner, not because of intention or lack of information but lack of resources on a smaller scale. Most companies that manufacture green alternatives to plastic packaging are still fairly new and tend to only make items custom ordered. A lot of time they have huge order minimums and set up fees — not to mention the fact that the USA lacks these innovative products so we are faced with ordering from China or Sweden as opposed to supporting locals. However, in the short six years we have been in business we have really seen this change and every day we are researching new packaging alternatives as they hit the domestic markets. It helps that we bug our vendors for more sustainable options regularly☺

All of Sea Witch Botanicals Certifications

IM: I know Sea Witch Botanicals donates a portion of proceeds to numerous charities. Can you tell us which ones and why you chose them? 

A: As for the charities that we donate to that varies depending on who needs it the most at the time. however we love to work with Conservation Northwest, Planned Parenthood, EarthJustice, LydiaPlace, Sustainable Connections,  Stand.Earth, Surfrider Foundation, Oceana, ReSources, Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center, ANT Bellingham, Whatcom Humane Society, and a ton more. We really like to work with local Social organizations that help women and children, and most of our environmental donations are state or nationally based. 

IM: What is it like running a business as a family? I’m sure it’s amazing for Ripley to grow up around creativity and solidarity. 

A: What a journey! I started this company with my mother-in-law, can you believe it!? We are actually very good friends and although we have our disagreements, we make a great team. Since 2013 we have grown to be a team of 10 empowered ladies, my daughter Ripley and my husband. I can’t imagine a better way to grow up: Ripley comes to work with me almost every day and gets to interact and learn from all the lovely humans we employ. 

Running a family business can be difficult, we treat all the employees like they are family, which could easily become an issue I suppose, however with the community we have built there is great respect and we have never had any issues. Each of us is very transparent and open in communication– it really makes for an empowering work environment. Everyone works extremely hard because they are loved, respected, and most of all listened to. After all, we are a family!

Alesia with Riply in her studio
This photo has really stayed with me since I first visited their site. How powerful to be a mother, a business owner, and a community leader, all at the same time? Women are amazing, and this photo really captures that.

IM: I have to admit, I’ve never washed my produce with soap before I received a sample of your produce wash in a recent order, and I eat a ton of produce. What are the benefits of making produce washing a habit? 

A: This is a great question, and one that often gets people really mad! We started off as a farmers market company and some of our best friends are local organic farmers, many of their loyal customers get very offended that we would wash their produce; are we implying that the farmers are dirty!? Absolutely not, this is why I wash my produce: free radicals in the air, these are unavoidable, our air contains a lot of pollution, from exhaust to microplastics. Giving your produce a soapy bath not only removes soil, bugs, hair, dander, and air borne pollution, it helps remove germs. Now more than ever I wash all of my produce, even avocados and bananas, the simple step of washing your fresh fruits and veggies can help reduce the spread of viruses.

IM: From a fellow practicing witch, I’m curious to hear how your craft is interwoven with your business. A huge part of my craft is honoring the earth and everything on it, and it seems that’s the main pillar of Sea Witch Botanicals.

A: I perform Green witchcraft which is not religious or rigid in any way, basically it is when you use the power of plants to benefit yourself and those around you, and in exchange you give back to the planet. Just as in foraging rules, you never take more that you leave behind. Although I I don’t consider myself a Wiccan or practicing pagan, I was excommunicated by a part of my family that is conservative and Christian. This event was very formative in my journey as a small business owner, it motivated me to go farther, give more to the planet and treat all my employees like family. Blood is not thicker than water (lol)!

My connection with nature is very deep and any time I wild forage or harvest homegrown herbs I take a moment to thank the plant, appreciate its journey and make sure to never take more than the plant can give and still flourish.

IM: What is your perfume making process? Your 5 main blends are so well thought out. Where do you draw inspiration from? 

A: Blending essential oils is when I become less of an alchemist and more of a scientist, I did go to school for massage therapy and aromatherapy but my passion was always more science-based. When I make a blend it is a lot of documentation, but I like to first start with a muse–either a book, or a spirit animal. I pin a picture of it on my whiteboard and get to work. I lay out a huge array of essential oils that fits the therapeutic needs of what I want to create. I have a million tiny jars with cotton balls inside and drop by drop I make dozens of trial scent profiles. From there I let the oils mingle and infuse for a few days, many oils change drastically in scent as the high notes evaporate and the low notes “simmer”. Once the blends have reached maximum harmony I call the team in for a blind vote, everyone smells the blends, and then votes anonymously on their top three blends. It is a lot of fun and really gets the whole team involved in the creative process. 

IM: What is your dream with Sea Witch Botanicals? Where do you want your company to go?

A: Initially the goal was to simply make enough money that Cat and myself never had to work for another jerk boss again! But as we continued to hire more employees we realized that there are a lot of really bad managers out there, and we wanted to provide a safe, fun, and empowering work environment for more people than just ourselves.

The goal has shifted now, we are a certified B Corp, Certified Vegan, Towards Zero Waste, and 1% for the Planet. Now the goal is to make as big an environmental and industry impact as we can while still maintaining our work culture of family first, and quality of life at the forefront. I want my entire team to grow with me as we increase our span of being in over 400 retail locations, and having almost 7000 followers on social media. We are an army of Sea Witches and the bigger we get the more good we can do! 

Thank you so much Alesia for taking the time to give such great answers to our questions. Thank you Julie and the rest of the Sea Witch Botanicals team for providing all of these amazing images.

Check out the Sea Witch Botanicals Online Store!

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