Last week, the news that the perfume brand Pinrose planned to launch a “Starter Witch Kit” in Sephora this October caused a backlash among practitioners of witchcraft and others. The nine-piece set was to retail for $42, and include an array of witch-related items, including tarot cards, sage, and a rose quartz crystal (paywall).
Critics had accused the brand of trivializing the religions of those who practice witchcraft. Some self-identified members of the witch community took to social media and YouTube to urge a boycott of Sephora.
Yesterday Pinrose backtracked, announcing in a statement that it planned to halt manufacturing of the kit, and would no longer be selling it in Sephora stores:
First and foremost, to those who have shared their disappointment or taken offense to this product, we apologize profoundly. This was not our intent. We thank you for communicating with us and expressing your feelings. We hear you; we will not be manufacturing or making this product available for sale. Our intention for the product was to create something that celebrates wellness, personal ceremony, and intention setting with a focus on using fragrance as a beauty ritual.
Some also accused Pinrose and Sephora of conflating Native American sacred practices with witchcraft, and objected to the sage bundles, which are used in “smudging,” a sacred practice in some Native American religions, that has been adopted by mainstream wellness culture.
Pinrose, for its part, pointed out that the sage in its kit is not classified by the US government as threatened, and would have been “sustainably harvested and sold by Native American owned and operated businesses…” they also noted that the kit did not reference “ceremonial smudging or ceremony circles.”
Some also accused the brand of stealing Prince’s trademarked love symbol. (Pinrose noted in its statement that it had purchased the artwork, including the symbol, and linked to an image from a stock photo site.)
The superstar soul singer SZA even chimed in to suggest untrained witches should probably stay away from the dark arts:
Cultural appropriation is not a simple accusation. In diverse societies, the intermixing of cultures is inevitable and often positive—and the line between earnest appreciation and appropriation is often blurry. But as some online critics of Pinrose pointed out, all it takes is a slight paradigm shift to see the problem with the Starter Witch Kit: