Work Your Magic: Erica Feldmann '12MA Makes Witches Her Business
Being a woman in business, I literally surround myself with other women who are very invested in the project of lifting each other up. I’ve built HausWitch to be hyper-feminist, hyper-local and hyper-inclusive.
Erica tells us how she turned her passion for witchcraft and feminism into HausWitch Home + Healing.
Erica Feldmann ‘12MA is many things: an entrepreneur, a historian, a radical feminist — and a witch.
Although the witch figure has been around for millennia, Hollywood is primarily responsible for our stereotypical cauldron and broomstick depiction of the witch. But don’t confuse this archetype with Feldmann. As owner and founder of Hauswitch Home + Healing, a modern metaphysical lifestyle brand and shop, she’s known as the Head Witch in Charge.
We joined Feldmann in Salem, Massachusetts — a community forever linked with the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Sitting in the center of HausWitch, surrounded by spell kits, crystals and mystical, feminist-themed housewares, Feldmann begins with her earliest memories of what it means to be a witch.
“Growing up, my mom would say ‘you know your grandfather was a witch,’” she recalls. “The figure of the ‘witch’ didn’t have the same meaning as the popular imagination. Really what it meant was setting your mind to something and making it happen.”
Although her introduction to witches came from family, Feldmann asserts that she’s always been drawn to the occult. Many of her childhood memories consist of wandering through bookshelves and continually gravitating towards volumes of tarot and runes.
Feldmann also found inspiration in icons like Stevie Nicks and Kelly Cutrone — women who were empowered by their outsider status and refused to submit to the status quo. Kelly Cutrone’s acronym of WITCH: “Woman In Total Control of Herself” particularly resonated with Feldmann — and she still uses this definition today.
“I think the word ‘witch’ in its essence is female,” explains Feldmann. “I think it’s about power and challenging the dominant culture. Who better to do this than the witch? Not from a place of being a victim, but from a place of strength.”
Although female empowerment is widely acknowledged today, historically this has not been the case. In addition to the historic persecution of the occult, it’s estimated that nearly 200,000 people were murdered in the European witch trials alone. Merging her passions for history and witchcraft, Feldmann focused her gender/cultural studies degree on the oppression of witches from a feminist perspective.
I think the word ‘witch’ in its essence is female. I think it’s about power and challenging the dominant culture. Who better to do this than the witch? Not from a place of being a victim, but from a place of strength.
Attending Simmons proved to be a turning point in her career. While hosting a housewarming party, a friend in the gender/cultural studies cohort admired Feldmann’s knack for interior design. Eventually this led to Feldmann creating the first iteration of HausWitch — an interior design service and a blog documenting her work.
“It really wouldn’t have started without the network I had from Simmons,” says Feldmann. “I started with interior decorating and later created our spell kits, which are house-shaped boxes filled with objects designed to bring good energy into your home. People resonated with them and it showed me that I have something valuable to offer. I decided to quit my day job and opened the store three months later.”
Feldmann also credits the gender/cultural studies program for allowing her to approach the business in an authentic manner. By not having a traditional corporate background, Feldmann saw this as an opportunity to structure Hauswitch around her values.
“Our mission is to provide a space for local, independent makers, crafters and witches to meet, shop and have a community space,” Feldmann illustrates. “Being a woman in business, I literally surround myself with other women who are very invested in the project of lifting each other up. I’ve built HausWitch to be hyper-feminist, hyper-local and hyper-inclusive.”
This is why Feldmann established a safe, supportive environment rather than a traditional storefront. From monthly meditations and crafting workshops, to political action events called “The Witching Hour,” she has successfully translated her feminist values into activism. All of these events occur with the ultimate purpose of benefiting and empowering marginalized communities.
But what Feldmann really wants her customers to understand is that everyone can embrace their inner witch and invite a little magic into their homes.
“I think when you start embracing the idea of casting a spell in your house, if that’s something you’ve never done before, it opens up a paradigm shift,” Feldmann explains. “Once you start allowing that into your life, it can really shift you — and that can really shift the culture and the world.”
Like the archetype of the radical feminist witch, there’s power in being an outsider. By rejecting the status quo and advocating for change, you can make a positive impact in your community. What’s more witchy than that?