Practical Magic Brings Plant-based Medicine and More to Hermosa

Under the spell.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Bonnie Graves
  • Photographed by
    Lauren Frick

Owner Emie Fenton didn’t necessarily plan to be a small-business owner in the South Bay. In fact, she was already running a successful shop on Main Street in Santa Monica when love took her southward. Emie’s husband wasn’t keen on Santa Monica, so the newlyweds set up shop in Hermosa Beach and started a family there.

Drawn to the laid-back beach vibe and great schools, the Fentons epitomize a lot of what makes the South Bay a haven for young families. And with her daughters growing up (now 13 and 10), Emie felt it was time to return to her retail roots … even in the midst of a burgeoning pandemic.

Practical Magic was originally founded in 2017 with the primary goal of helping individuals with chronic pain—both physical and emotional—through the use of plant-based medicine. Emie has apprenticed under the Wise Woman Tradition with Susun Weed and has also studied Western herbalism with expert Julie James. A self-professed lifelong learner, Emie was drawn to herbalism because of its depth and complexity. Her focus is primarily Western, although she is excited to expand on that knowledge base.

As Emie puts it, “There is so much to learn about plant medicine. Each country has its own unique system and plants. While traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda and South American herbs are fascinating, my expertise lies mostly in Traditional Western Herbalism.” She continues to explain that “the majority of the herbs we sell at this time come from North America, although I would love to offer more exotic herbs as we continue to grow.”

And grow they have at Practical Magic, which opened its first brick-and-mortar location on Hermosa Avenue in June 2020, smack in the middle of a lockdown and virus fears. “It’s been a crazy time to open a business, but it was a dream come true for me to be able to provide plant medicine and self-care offerings to the community,” says Emie.

Her focus on community-building includes buying from other local businesses; Practical Magic offers coffee from neighbor Java Stew and beautiful jewelry by designer and repurposer Dana. Emie took another deep breath when the space at 936 Hermosa Avenue opened up and expanded her entire concept.

And with a new community gathering space called The Commune, she now is poised to host post-pandemic gatherings of all types. From a lab for herbalist classes and consults to a treatment room for Reiki, tarot and astrology readings to a studio space for yoga, meditation, sound baths and more, the Commune is a welcome haven for South Bay residents looking to refresh and recharge in 2021.

Practical Magic is truly an artisan shop, with most of its tinctures, tea blends and other products made entirely in-house and by hand. Ingredients are lovingly chosen with an emphasis on holistic self-care and on supporting community makers and artists. In addition to its proprietary line, Practical Magic also sells gorgeous decorative plants, succulents and cacti alongside books, tarot cards, chocolates, small-batch coffees, bath and beauty products, and a wide array of gifts.

With the ocean as its backdrop, Practical Magic hopes to cultivate a community of South Bay clients who value health and wellness elements from all cultures. It’s a special kind of alchemy indeed—and one that is most welcome after a year of isolation and anxiety. “Nourishing mind, body and soul” is Emie’s motto for this kind of magic, and her shop provides a haven amidst the stresses of everyday living.

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