APOTHECARY SMUDGE WANDS
St. Bonifacius, Minnesota
Owner: Leigh Cohen Wyatt
Hours: M-F 9 am to 5 pm
Year Opened: 2019
Store Type: Online
Products in Stock: Smudge jars, smudge wands, Palo alto, crystals, charms, and a variety of scented sage bundles
Inventory Method/ Software Use: Wix E-Commerce, Square
Inventory Turn: Seasonal
Sales by Category: Sage, dried florals, Palo alto, herbs, crystals, charms, metaphysical, holistic wellness, organic
Events/ Services: (i.e.: workshops, book clubs, meditation center, etc.) Besides our e-commerce store, we offer additional services and private events, such as private readings, private parties, expos, national gift shows, spiritual centers, and wellness centers.
Apothecary Smudge Wands is an online store created in 2019 by Leigh Cohen Watt. One of the most popular and well-respected intuitive readers within the metaphysical industry for more than two decades. Entrepreneurship has been in her blood forever. She grew up in a small city, where her family owned and operated the primary store in town. Her grandparents and parents had a keen sense of serving the community, which they did for more than 42 years. When she was a kid, she used to wander the racks of clothing and accessories of Cohen’s Department Store in Buffalo, Minnesota, and she ultimately acquired the skill and knowledge necessary to run her family business. Years later, she opened her own store where she sold metaphysical products of her own making and those of other synergistic partners. Readings, Reiki treatments, Aura photography, and other holistic healing services were offered as well. The store was the manifestation of her life’s work as an intuitive reader. By the time after her new marriage and a move deeper into rural Minnesota, she decided to close the store and focus on only a few products that truly combined her love for other passions, specifically gardening, and decided to create a niche marketplace for them, online.
Since her e-commerce business was launched last year, she has experienced phenomenal online growth due to the growing awareness in the benefits of smudging and smoke cleansing, thanks to the country’s booming interest in self-care, healing, and wellness. With a custom mix of handmade sage-based wands and jars, her products are made with dried organic florals, herbs, crystals, and charms that enhance cleansing and blessing experiences, can help transform a space by creating renewed energy and positive spiritual experience, and promote healing.
Leigh is proud to say Apothecary Smudge Wands is a women-owned business that promotes self- empowerment for consumers and retailers. According to her, as the world struggles through its most challenging time as a community, she expects even more demand for products for a newly contemplative culture – one where people have a greater focus on slowing down and clearing negative energy. Today her products can be also found at brick-and-mortar stores nationwide. Here is more about her online business.
Why did you decide to open an online store instead of brick-and-mortar?
I wanted to be readily available to my clients and new customers when they needed access to products like mine. The online store better serves the need of someone who desires to treat themselves, is online searching for ways to heal, or wants to send something unique and special to someone who needs it. An online store also broadens the reach to those I can help through the use of these unique products. I already conduct phone readings to people throughout the world. Shouldn’t my products be available without the boundaries that exist when there is a brick-and-mortar location.
I also believe an online storefront allows me to provide more education on how to use the products, their benefits, the history of smudging/smoke cleansing, and so much more. This can’t always happen inside a physical store. I was not always available to spend time with customers in my physical store because I was busy, a different employee was working that day, or the customer didn’t have time.
Products in our industry are so rich with information. Questions I get include, what does a certain chakra color mean? What does a certain smell from a burning flower evoke? Where and why did the act of smudging originate? How many uses will I get from one wand or jar? How do you smudge?
How would you describe your e-store type?
Apothecary Smudge Wands is truly eye candy for the soul! Online, I have the opportunity to share beautiful images of every type of sage wand and jar, so that people can see their beauty and enjoy the shopping experience. Each hand-made product is a piece of artwork. I like to keep the site simply because the products are the focus. I don’t need a lot of graphic design for the site because the flowers, herbs, sage, and crystals do the work of delighting visitors and they really sell themselves.
The site facilitates both B2C and B2B commerce – retail and wholesale purchases are made there. My social media strategy also centered on the beauty of the products so perfect for Instagram, also educates people on all topics about smudging/smoke cleansing. The posts drive people to the site for more information and to ultimately make their purchase.
How would you describe your group of consumers?
The products appeal to a large age group of mostly women (from 18-50s generally) focused on spirituality. The products are largely purchased by groups who use them in rituals. My customers are also yoga instructors who smudge their classrooms, chiropractic wellness practitioners, healers, artists, and interior designers. Often times a sage wand or jar resting on a surface is a beautiful addition to a room’s décor. And, of course, many are gift buyers because the products are unique, hand-made, and I believe are so much more thoughtful than mass-produced items that lack meaning and symbolism.
Do you take advantage of your website page to encourage purchase behavior?
Yes. I make sure my website features dynamic, changing, and valuable content. I use metatags and make regular revisions to the page layout. The photos I use really spur engagement and response. Recently, I added a video to better showcase the products. I also run promotions on the site at various times of the year.
Do you use social media to promote and sell your products?
Yes. I am active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I use rich photography, which is particularly eye-catching and appealing on social media. I like to think my posts cause people to pause and soak in the beauty of the products. I also maintain a CRM database of my reading clients, product purchasers, and wholesale customers, and regularly reach out to them through email. Lately, I have layered in paid social to target my demographic, which is highly active on social.
As an entrepreneur with a strong online presence, how would you describe your weekly routine?
Because my products are so custom, and much thought goes into their assembly, much of my time is devoted to creating them. Because I have been an intuitive reader for more than 20 years, I also have many very intimate relationships with clients, so personal discussions with them are important. These take time and are important for cultivating lifetime customers and it increases the number of referrals they provide for me because they know my style and trust me. I split the remainder of my time between creating promotions and managing advertisements.
How do you promote your brand awareness and products to grow the profit margin?
One of the ways we do to promote our brand is by getting our products into other locations to extend beyond our website page, and we have other entrepreneurs mentioning them as well. Plus, we do a lot of social media posts, and print advertising has also brought us tremendous exposure. After two decades in the metaphysical industry, I know which events yield results, so I take time to be a part of those and I make sure to integrate my products into my reading sessions and gallery events. Now, when people purchase the product and then display it before using it, those who see it ask about it. When those in the healing profession use the products, their clients ask where they can get their own. And, because the products are high-quality, I can maintain a competitive price point!
Do you go to Trade Shows to look for new products for your store or do you frequently search for new products online? If so, which trade show would you say is a “must go”?
I do attend major trade shows and conferences – those that not only help me sell my products and services but where I can generate new ideas and learn from others in our industry. The Minneapolis Mart is one of those shows. I also attend expos, spirituality conferences and retreats, and research products online.
Do you work exclusively with made in USA makers and suppliers to ensure that your customers are only purchasing products made with the highest quality and pure ingredients?
Yes, including organically grown producers. I source from my own garden, when possible, which is in the heartland of the USA. I also prefer to purchase the product locally, if possible.
Do you ever think about expanding your business and have a physical location or a pop-up store for instance where more consumers can shop locally?
As a lifelong entrepreneur, expanding my business is always on my mind. I currently have products in eight stores in Minnesota and select others nationwide. That number can and will grow, as will my online sales. I also think about expansion in terms of my product line. The wands have significant capacity to be expanded – by adding versions for intention-setting, specific rituals, meditation only, magic, removing negativity, alleviating allergies and bacteria, for self–empowerment, affirmations, and featuring Zodiac colors.
I grow some of the components of my products in my own garden. While my online store will always be focused on sage wands and jars, if I were to expand, I would incorporate additional items to reflect specific themes or properties. I will create more of my own products in the future. My brand stands for originality, so I would want products that support that.
What advice would you give retailers who are looking to grow their online presence?
I would emphasize how customer service is as important online as it is with a physical storefront. I would suggest they maintain personal relationships thru e-mail, phone calls, and/or personal chat messaging. It’s imperative to understand and use social media to its full capability. Make sure to respond to customers in a timely manner, taking time to answer questions or solve their issues, or simply to thank them. Make sure your product is a quality one.
It is also important to maintain a work/life balance, especially if you want to be successful over a long period of time. There will be ups and downs, so you must stay healthy and have other hobbies and things to focus on because a small business can be all-consuming if you don’t keep it in perspective and somewhat compartmentalized so that you can leave it for periods of time, both physically and mentally. And remember that it will rarely feel like work if you love what you do and use your passion for its purpose.