Small Business Startup: Hedge Witch Botanicals

Kate Castle, owner of Hedge Witch Botanicals.

BY: Holly Boname    
After working for years as an executive director for a non-profit community arts center, Kate Castle was feeling dissatisfied with the culture and grind of her professional career. That is when she decided to look inward, moved back home to Cape Vincent in early 2018 and started her own health and wellness company, Hedge Witch Botanicals.  

    “I began to pursue things that brought me joy— slowing down, making something by hand, connecting with the long tradition of herbalism and the archetype of the witch,” said Castle. “When I moved to the Cape, things fell into place, and I am incredibly privileged to have been able to pursue this dream.”  

    According to Castle, the term “hedge witches” dates back to medieval times and describes women who lived on the outskirts of towns (often marked by a hedge), and who utilized their knowledge of plants for herbal remedies. She says that she has always been drawn to “witches”.  

    “From loving stories of Baba Yaga so much I wanted my own mortar and pestle at age 6, to pursue a degree in art history exploring representations of gender in art, I see the witch as a feminist icon,” said Castle.   

    Making cold-process soaps, which is different from the melt and pour varieties commonly found in stores, Castle infuses her creations with 100% natural, vegan, and plant-based ingredients. She also makes hand salve, body balm (also known as lotion bars), bath bombs and soaks, facial masques, moon bath meditation kits, and room and linen sprays. She is also expanding her line of products to include an all-natural bug repellent.   

    “In 2019, I began offering tarot readings through my business as well.,” said Castle. “It’s something I’ve done for myself and my friends and family for some time, but I really enjoy offering it as a service to others. While some find the experience valid, I have never approached tarot as a tool to foretell the future. I utilize tarot for its therapeutic qualities and offer insight into both the symbolism and language of the cards. It’s very meditative, and offers a lens through which we can view our circumstances.”  

    These products and services all come from Castle’s passion for the natural world. Growing up with a mother whom she calls a “prolific gardener and forager,” she grew up understanding what plants are edible, which ones help soothe bee stings, etc.  

    “There are so many wonderful herbalist books and resources out there, but one of the things I love about herbalism is that historically it’s been an oral tradition,” she said.   

    But she doesn’t just credit her mother for teaching her the natural world of home-remedy and herbalism.   

    “When starting Hedge Witch Botanicals, I was exceptionally lucky in that I already had a model with my family’s business (Chateau in Cape Vincent). Growing up the daughter of small business owners, I saw firsthand that it takes a lot of hustle, adaptability, and commitment to run a business,” she said. “I also looked to other business owners I admire, and talk openly with them about challenges and successes.”  

    Because of her passion for her business, her understanding of the work and products that she does, her customers are loyal and growing. She says that people in the community are seeking out natural products and trying something new with each visit.   

    “I know of a local couple where the wife bought a facial soap for herself, and her husband has been using it consistently too, saying his skin has never felt better!” said Castle. “The feedback I get on my tarot readings is often more personal, that it helped a client see their situation in a new light, or that they feel empowered to explore their feelings surrounding an issue.”  

    As Castle continues to develop her line of products and services, she says her goals include owning her own storefront where she can include massage therapy, DIY workshops, and guided meditation circles.  

    “I see Hedge Witch Botanicals as a sort of community service, offering ways we can explore radical self-care together,” she said.   

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