With a focus on supporting small businesses this holiday season and beyond, I am so excited to share a small biz themed edition of Tending the Hedge, a series of features highlighting herbalists, artists, educators, and activists who engage in a practice of “magical stewardship,” all bravely sharing their magic with the world, living and working with intention. I see this as a form of mutual aid and raising each other up, as a rejection of competition and scarcity culture, and an opportunity to highlight ways in which folks are tending the hedges of their communities, so to speak!
I first met Annelise a little over a year ago when I wandered into her delightful Wolfe Island shop, Fishtale, co-owned with her bestie Caitlin, and our conversation blossomed into a friendship I value deeply. We had quite a bit in common– we are both business owners who relocated to small communities, both have backgrounds in the arts, both have some seriously niche tv and movie favorites– but the most delightful thing about Annelise has always been her radical honesty and deep empathy. No small talk, just passion and purpose, and that shines through in every part of her work. Here we chatted about the magic of building community through small business.
What are your pronouns and what is your sign?
She/Her. I’m a Pisces sun, Pisces moon, & Libra ascendant.
Are you a witch? If so, what does that word mean to you?
You know, it’s been a wild ride figuring this out. Witches have such a long, sorted history depending on where you read about them or talk about them. I’ve always been fascinated by stories (true or not) about witches, magic, and gardens. I’ve never really understood the bad reputation that “all” witches had, especially when the root of their beliefs were in the natural world, healing, equality, their desire to be understood and to live life on their own terms….
Funny story, when I was little at one point my mom had a daycare in our home. I remember that one of the kids said my mom was a witch, and I didn’t understand why he said it in such a mean way because I just assumed it was a compliment, ha. As a child I was a witch for Halloween multiple years and I thought that it was just the peak of what you could be without being supernatural/superhero.
Anyway fast forward to my early 20’s when I worked at a cafe and I met a wise woman. She knew so many secrets and her knowledge of plants and the healing ways of the water just clicked for me. She gave me my first wise woman kit, and I still have every part of it to this day. The knowledge of being connected to the earth, fighting for what is good and just, seeing the magic in everyday… it is something that I carry with me in everything I do.
So do I think I’m a witch? I suppose I am on the road to discovering it. I’ve never used the word. Much like how I have always made art but have never considered myself an artist. I simply exist the way that I am. Perhaps I am unsure if I’m supposed to call myself that, or if it is a title you are supposed to receive – almost as an honour? All I know is that I think the journey to self-discovery is the important part.
What drew you to your work? Why is it important?
I have worked in retail my entire working career. When the time came where I was able to open my own shop (with my best friend) I realized that doing it independently would mean I could follow my beliefs and ethics which would be more fulfilling and meaningful. Especially in a community like mine, where the business can support local makers and eventually become a hub for the community. We may be a small island but we have so much talent here and seeing people getting their work into the world is so magical. As the store grows we can create more community based events that can add to the wonder of this place, especially for the local community.
How can others engage with this work and tend the hedge in their own communities?
I think when you decide to support local businesses and makers you are really supporting your surroundings. You bring more life into your community. You actually bring joy to the life of the person you are supporting, you support them emotionally as well as financially. There’s been a lot of talk about how when you support a local someone does a happy dance, and wow is that ever true. Sometimes when we have a great interaction with someone in the store, not necessarily a sale, but a good conversation or nice moment, we get a bit weepy and think to ourselves “wow I love this” and I hope that I never lose that wonder or magic. That’s how you and I met! I hope that people know that when they stop or shop local shop owners are genuinely SO grateful and made happy by that visit and that it can change their lives.
Did you enjoy this feature? Check out other magic-makers in the Tending the Hedge series!