Sara Shaaban spent the summer of 2020 with her children after being laid off from her restaurant job due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In September, she did a body scrub for a friend and posted a photo to her Instagram story. To her surprise, she received a flood of messages. She couldn’t say no to requests for her homemade products and started creating them for more people.
This post was the start of Witchy Woman World Apothecary, Shaaban’s business, which sells homemade bath bombs, body scrubs, lotions, and other products. About a month after starting her business, she moved into a storefront on Elmwood Avenue and Main Street, where she has remained ever since.
Shaaban wants its products to be both internal and external healing, she said. She believes in the idea of “self-care,” which she says is a richer experience than self-care.
“(My products) can be just nice lotion or nice bath bombs, if that’s all anyone wants to see,” Shaaban said. “If you’re open to it, there’s like a whole other world of great intention and an element of spirituality, and elements of empowerment.”
The idea of healing naturally is deeply rooted in the identity of Shaaban, who grew up in Singapore and Brunei.
When she was 4 years old, Singaporean doctors warned Shabaan’s mother that she would die of a severe case of mononucleosis. His mother, however, refused to accept this result. On leaving the hospital, they instead went to see a doctor who practiced natural Chinese medicine, and Shabaan recovered.
Customer and friend Chelsea Yarborough met Shaaban at a Christmas market last winter, and the two quickly became friends, she said. Along with the high-quality ingredients, she said Shaaban’s healing mission sets its products apart, taking on a spiritual quality.
“I experienced the Spirit and God through his products because they helped me be more whole and self-centered,” Yarborough said.
Meeting the community is one of Shaaban’s favorite parts of owning her business, she said.
Shaaban and his only employee, Terra Kliegle, usually chat with customers while they shop. Dana Phelan, a shopper shopping on Tuesday, said the friendly environment created by Shaaban adds to the healing effect her products bring.
“The way (Shaaban) speaks to people is that they are worthy of something like this, which just adds to the inclusion and love aspect of everything,” she said. “People believe it’s normal and safe to say, ‘I really deserve a special experience. “”
Shabaan tries to create a special experience with the store environment. The scent of essential oils envelops customers as they enter the store. Paintings and gilded mirrors adorn the walls, and second-hand furniture fills the floor. The decorations also have very personal touches – Shaaban’s grandparents’ wedding photo sits on an old desk.
Shaaban’s business has grown steadily since it started; she hired Kliegle in July to help her with tasks such as packing and laying products on the floor.
Kliegle said Shaaban’s products are successful because his customers feel the love Shaaban puts into his work.
“Every little detail that you wouldn’t even think of is so thought out,” Kliegle said. “More people want to give to this because they see how powerful it can be.”
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