It’s easy to spend a day exploring Beacon’s Main Street, popping in and out of the shops and eateries. And one of the latest additions to the block is a must stop: Witch Hazel, a modern apothecary and dried flower emporium.
Not only is the interior stunning but the inventory is as eco-friendly as it is inviting. Owner Jill Hilbrenner curates clean, sustainable beauty and skin care products, plus a lovely selection of pottery and apparel by local artisans.
“Everything I sell, I would, or do, use personally,” says Hilbrenner, who carries brands such as Axiology, BKIND, Ursa Major, and Alleyoop, and relies on her training as a former beauty copywriter for brands such as Chanel and Oribe Hair Care to introduce customers to product lines that are safest for their skin. “You’ll never get to a lifestyle where everything you own or encounter is perfectly clean, but every choice makes a difference,” she says. Hillbrenner makes an effort to stock items at a variety of price points because she believes clean beauty shouldn’t cost a fortune. “If we can take incremental steps toward using products that are safer, and don’t deplete natural resources, that’s a huge win.”
The idea for Witch Hazel came from Hilbrenner’s own health scare. In 2019, she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. “When I finished treatment and had my energy back, I wanted to focus on something that was just fun,” says Hilbrenner, who lived in New York City at the time. She began buying flowers from the Union Square Greenmarket, drying them, and experimenting with flower arranging. “I posted my creations on Instagram and got requests to create bouquets for bridal showers,” recalls Hilbrenner. “I wondered what it would be like to have a store. Then I was laid off from my day job and this space became available, so it freed me up to take a leap and try something different.”
Witch Hazel opened last July. (Hilbrenner and her husband moved to Beacon in August 2021.) Along with the beauty products, she also sells dried flowers and offers classes in topics like wreath making and flower arranging. “It might seem weird to sell dried flowers with makeup, skincare, and fragrance together,” says Hilbrenner. “But if it sparks joy, I am happy to offer it.”
Next up? Hilbrenner hopes to host flower-cloud workshops—inspired by the big “floof” that hangs in front of the shop’s floor-to-ceiling windows. She also plans to host meals with plant-based chefs and classes on making floral cocktails. “I want to encourage community connection,” says Hilbrenner, “and see people spending time with those they haven’t seen in a while, being creative together.”