What gave you the inspiration for the company name, Sea Witch Botanicals?
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.
Is witchcraft a part of your practice at Sea Witch Botanicals?
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.
What is your process behind creating your scent blends?
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.
You mention fragrance oils a lot, why don't you use fragrance oils?
At the core of our company, we are environmentalists. It is our goal to reduce waste and plastic use as much as possible. The most insidious ingredients in most household products are fragrance oils; petroleum-based molecular cocktails that cannot be processed by your metabolism, don't easily break down under organic circumstances, and have their safety tested by the companies who produce them (not by unbiased third parties).
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Are all of your products vegan?
Yes, all of our products are vegan AND all-natural. Soaps, candles, balms, and other products really don't need to use animal byproducts, so why should we support those companies who use animal-based lards and oils? Furthermore, not all vegan products are all-natural, as many companies use cheap plastic polymers in lieu of real organic ingredients.
Do you use exclusively USDA Organic ingredients?
We do not exclusively use USDA Organic certified ingredients due to a number of reasons. Our primary goal is to offer all-natural alternatives to plastic-based ingredients. Many ingredients we source follow organic practices, but are not able to afford certification in the US. We source organic ingredients when absolutely necessary (rice oil, cocoa butter, etc.) and will continue to expand as it becomes possible to do so and keep our products affordable.
Why do you use palm oil?
We only source from palm oil that's certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. We believe in rewarding sustainable practices rather than allowing only slash'n'burn practices to thrive. In our personal lives, we avoid products with palm oil unless specifically called out as RSPO certified.
You used to have "non-gmo" and "organic" claims on your labels. What changed?
Some of our retail partners started requiring more robust certifications, such as by the Non-GMO Project, to note any ingredients as non-GMO. Due to the cost of certification, we decided to remove these claims until we can progress through the due-process of certification. We still use the same high-quality ingredients as we did before, and continue to source more USDA Organic, fairtrade, and non-GMO materials!