Cats have often been seen as symbols of magic and protection, especially for those who practice witchcraft. That’s why, when customers walk into Twisted Twigs, they may be greeted by any or all of the store’s eight stray feline companions.
Since the summer of 2017, Twisted Twigs has been selling crystals, artisan oils, dried herbs, incense, and other homemade apothecary items to customers. The Metaphysical Shop is nestled among residential homes on Main Street in Anderson, Indiana, and is owned and operated by two witches: Brytneigh Burgess and Kinsley Elsten.
After meeting in ninth grade at Highland High School in Anderson, Burgess and Elsten hit on the idea of starting a business together. It wasn’t until several years later that the couple decided to stop talking about their idea and bring it to life.
“We had been talking about it for a long time,” Burgess said. “We just pooled the resources we had, and it was a very modest start.”
Twisted Twigs not only offers a unique in-store shopping experience, but a website that allows customers to ship products right in front of them. The pair said that although most of their online orders are shipped across the United States, the few international orders they have received have been “exciting” milestones for their business.
Witchcraft and the use of crystals are growing in popularity across the country. In 2008, Trinity College in Connecticut found that there were approximately 340,000 people practicing witchcraft. Thirteen years later, research from Brandeis University suggests that there will be approximately 1.5 million practicing witches in the United States in 2021.
Both Burgess and Elsten are proud of their “non-denominational” shop.
“I’m a practicing witch and use all the resources I can to help myself,” Burgess said. “I don’t adhere to any religion. I don’t use deities, but I’m totally [other] the people who use it.
Spirituality plays an important role in Burgess and Elsten’s lives and is something that connects and diversifies them afterward, they said. They explained the importance of practicing their craft in a way that works personally, rather than trying to do something that worked for someone else.
“I feel like it’s a spiritual experience, connecting with people and energy and that kind of stuff,” Elsten said. “I believe in God and people look at me funny, even in the store. I firmly believe that witchcraft is 100% how you want to take it. [Brytneigh’ s path] is not the same as my path.
Succeed in spirituality
Burgess and Elsten purchased their current location at 3504 Main St. in Anderson in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, which initially caused a problem as they were unable to process online orders at the time .
“We were open for a month or two before moving here, then we had to close for two to four months. [due to the mandate]”, Elsten said.
Despite the pandemic, the co-owners said they were lucky to thrive under unprecedented conditions. Although the pair did not qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program — a loan backed by the Small Business Administration that has helped businesses keep employees during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — since their store was so small, many people were beginning to understand the importance of shopping locally.
“At the very start of 2020, we had to close because it was mandatory,” Burgess said. “But there was still this big [push] buy locally, so I feel like we got really lucky because people really bought into that. We were actually busier with online orders than when we were open. »
Since then, the store has seen consistent levels of in-person traffic.
The co-owners said certain items in their store are gaining popularity due to social media trends. Burgess said customers will often visit the store for specific crystals they’ve seen online.
The owners of Twisted Twigs also have a TikTok account which they use to advertise their business. Social media apps like TikTok are a popular choice for some practicing witches to share their work with others, and videos using the “#witchtok” hashtag on the app have over 20 billion views, according to research by 2021 USA Today.
When it comes to their social media presence, however, Burgess said she and Elsten are treading carefully.
“It’s so easy to get in trouble when you don’t intend to offend or cause harm,” Burgess said. “People are canceled, and they like to keep the gate, which is so important now.”
Elsten said other TikTok users commented on their videos, saying they weren’t doing their job properly.
“You have to go your own way,” Burgess said. “You have to figure out what you feel comfortable with and what you feel good about doing.” said Burgess. “Just because you’ve seen someone do a spell to look cool or appear to have a cool result on TikTok doesn’t mean you should try it at home.”
However, they said they were grateful for the app, saying they don’t know where they would be without social media.
Stay close to home
Burgess and Elsten said many people often have preconceptions about witches and witchcraft if they are unfamiliar with the practice. Burgess said it was something she noticed in their community and even in their shop.
“People will then come across our Facebook page or our Instagram page and say, ‘Well, that doesn’t look so bad’ or ‘Wow, that’s really pretty’ or ‘Oh my God, he there are cats!’ “Burgess said. “Then they can get more comfortable rather than thinking, ‘Oh, yeah, there’s that witch down the road.'”
Burgess said the growing popularity of witchcraft across online and social media platforms could help resolve some of the negative connotations surrounding their practice while allowing their community to grow.
The couple said that although they had a small request to open a second location, the logistics of expanding their business would create several challenges.
“[Having a small business] is a high and a low,” Burgess said. “We’ve had people tell us all the time, you know, ‘We could use one in Florida’ or ‘We could use one wherever we are’, but we’re both control freaks.[A second location] would mean one of two things: that Kinsley and I had to go our separate ways, or that we had to give up most of the control to someone else and trust that they would treat him the same as us.”
Twisted Twigs plans to stay exclusively in Anderson where their business is already well established and known throughout the community. With guests traveling far and near, owners feel confident staying in the place they know is loved.
Contact Grace Duerksen with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gracie_duerk.