“We want people to feel very welcome when they come into our store, and it’s a priority of ours,” Faith Parker owner of Boho Bungaloo said.
When looking for a expand her business in 2018, Parker said she was drawn to the “funky little town with cool people” of Sebastopol and settled on Main Street.
Like many businesses in downtown Sebastopol, Boho Bungaloo is filled with the work of local artists and crafters; owners see that as a way to support the community. To appeal to customers’ sense of smell, employees direct people to a bestseller this time of year — Local Yokel’s Pumpkin + Spice and Apple Harvest candles. The locally made products can be found all around Sonoma County.
She also makes a lot of the jewelry sold at the three Boho Bungaloo locations.
“You can find novelty items, lots of home decor, and we make our own line of bath and body products called Bohemian Botanicals,” Parker said. “And we have an amazing line of soy wax candles.”
The candles are made at the 500-square-foot office at the Occidental shop and sold at the three stores. Parker said it gives them a healthy profit margin that will help the business succeed through some inevitable tough times, which she saw in 2020 with the coronavirus.
“The community has been amazing, especially through COVID. It’s easy to think ‘Oh, we’re just a store. Nobody needs anything,’ but people really showed up and went out of their way to shop with us,” Parker said of those who visited their Sebastopol location. “I mean, I could just start crying. It’s amazing how they showed up for us.”
Pop next door and discover something magical.
The warm gold Papyrus font on the widow is fitting for the energy of Milk & Honey. It’s part Old World and part contemporary eclectic. Walk in and visitors will notice the burnt-orange terra cotta floor fits perfectly with the light yellow walls. Armoires, tables and glass displays are strategically placed around the store so customers can see everything from the front door.
Phoenix LaFae owns Milk & Honey and is the third person to own business since it opened in 1996. She knows without a shadow of a doubt that the shop is in the right spot for customers and doesn’t plan on going anywhere.
“Sebastopol and west county have always had this Earth goddess-focused vibe to it,” La Far said. “And Sebastopol has a lot of women-owned businesses. I can’t imagine the shop being anywhere else. Sebastopol is where we belong.”
Along with maintaining that earthy vibe, LaFae’s own spiritual ethics translate to what customers will find in Milk & Honey. The shop supports local creatives, particularly women and BIPOC artists by selling their work at the shop.
The business is filled with crystals, statues, incense, tarot cards, spiritual books, jewelry, candles, art and accessories. The space is undeniably witchy, but the customers who shop at Milk & Honey come from diverse spiritual backgrounds.
“When people ask what we do, I say we are a spiritual shop where you can get candles, stones, crystals and more. We do have a focus on witchcraft, but we are more than that,” LaFae said. “There are so many paths to growing your spiritual practice. Spirituality is deeply personal and anyone that’s on a spiritual path will find what they are looking for in the shop.”
LaFae has seen people’s curiosity in spirituality ebb and flow throughout the years, but these past few years seem different.
“There was a revival of witchcraft in the ’90s after movies like ‘The Craft’ and ‘Practical Magic’ came out, but since then, the interest is way bigger,” LaFae said.
Crystals and stones have become popular, especially on the social media app TikTok. Creators are sharing their favorite stones that they say help with anything from manifestation to self-love and abundance. One huge part of the conversation is where these items come from and if they are legit.
LaFae prides herself in doing as much research as she can while creating connections with those in the local crystal community to ensure the crystals and stones she sells are from reliable vendors and are ethically sourced.
“The world of crystals and stones is vast,” LaFae said. “Crystals that aren’t ethically sourced are a problem, and I do my best to know the sources of the stones I keep at the shop. I know my vendors and work with people who have a relationship with the land.”
And in Sebastopol, it’s all about the relationships each of these businesses owners have with the area they have set down roots in. Its these relationships that have fostered over time and throughout the seasons. To all those looking to embrace the autumnal vibes and support locally owned shops, set down some roots in Sebastopol.
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