Alex and Ra Perez are sisters who have been on their own personal journey to self for some years now. They describe themselves as medicine women who are walking the path of the heart and gratitude. After years of doing pop-ups and tabling at events where they would offer guidance and helpful simple tips for creating a sacred space within oneself, with their loved ones, and in their home and place of business, they opened a brick and mortar location, Botanikal Metaphysical Boutique, in their lifelong neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Botanikal offers classes and workshops, card readings, one-on-one sessions, and supplies for your needs.
The sisters never imagined that they would be business owners, let alone own a metaphysical shop. Born to very religious Catholic Puerto Rican parents, the mystic, natural healing, and metaphysical were not concepts and practices they grew up intimately knowing. Nonetheless, the sisters own their first business together and the mystic, natural healing, and the metaphysical are very intimate parts of their personal and professional lives.
BELatina sat down with the sisters to learn more about the entrepreneurial and spiritual rise behind Botanikal Metaphysical Boutique.
Let’s talk about coming from a very traditional Catholic practicing household and where you are today.
Our parents were raised very traditionally Catholic. They had a hard time understanding us branching out. A lot of the work of healing and the metaphysical is about meeting people where they are. You have to look at the people in your life and where they are and respect that. Everyone is on their own journey and timeline and you can’t bring everyone with you on your timeline. We have come to learn how to see the ways in which our parents are on their own journeys and how that is beautiful.
That is a great point.
All medicine and healing people are, in essence, trying to connect you with yourself, set beautiful intentions, and call your ancestors in as well. When in doubt go to yourself. Yourself is the place that you always begin and the place to always go back to. All the tools and keys are right within us. Everyone is healing one another in some way or another. We aren’t in the business of telling people that their way is the wrong way and our way is the only right way.
The longest journey is the journey back to self and that looks different for everyone.
Botanicas are a staple in many Latino communities and cultures. Do you have a distinct memory of visiting a botanica when you all were younger?
We would go to pick up stuff for our religious mother. A Virgin Mary statue or something like that but it was always a taboo experience. We would walk into the botanicas with almost a sense of fear and secrecy. We knew botanicas existed but they aren’t a big part of our family’s practices. Our upbringing also helps us understand when people come to us with trepidation.
A lot of businesses are online now, so how did you make the choice between a brick and mortar business versus a purely online space?
We wanted to have and keep space for people that need to go somewhere. Gentrification is a big thing in major cities but here in Williamsburg it has been so fast and jarring. We were born and raised here. We are from here and have seen the changes that have taken place and how it truly displaces families and memories. We saw the need for it while our community was being taken away through gentrification. The shop is tiny. We nickname her the Crystal Closet but she is powerful and a little oracle in this urban jungle and changing neighborhood.
People are looking for other methods to cope with the higher rates of stress and illness. They want something that supplements their practices or something to replace what they are doing. We wanted to bring the path to people in person through showing them that it all begins with you.
Interesting. It’s like having the physical space is also a way for you all to claim and hold onto a place that is your homeland, for lack of a better word. There seems to be a reclaiming and a re-grasping among the Latino community that healing and care from natural elements is something that those who came before us practiced as well. Has this collective conscious of returning affected your business in anyways?
It has in many different ways. We have had doctors come into our store asking for information about how to use crystals — a doctor! We have also had people come in there who are seeking to replace or supplement whatever healing practices they are using right now. It is our task to meet people where they are and help them along.
The other thing is spirituality has become a trend almost and so it looks very cosmetic but it’s not. It’s not. I’ve been doing this work since I was 13 and I still feel like I know nothing. If I share that on IG people will say I’m not “enough.” There are people that are hurting because they are trying to fast track the process and learning. There is a naïveté in assuming everyone in this work is well-meaning, conscious. This has informed how we do our work. We don’t have a lot of media presence. People who need us and believe can and should find us. We don’t have a business number and we do not allow people to record some of our work. We want people to remain as present as they can when they interact with us.
Additionally, people are dealing with higher levels of stress, depression, and dark thoughts. More and more people are coming in saying, “I suffer from X,”versus “I just want to learn about crystals and sage.” We take them all in and remind them that then they need to learn how to slow down and realize this is a process and won’t be a quick fix or an Instagramable moment.
As people who did not envision themselves owning a business, what is it like owning a business with a sibling?
We are literal opposing zodiac signs [one is an Aries, the other is a Pisces but that helps us in many ways. It also helps that we began our journey back to self at the same time but in very different ways. She — the shop — is a little oracle. She calls people to her. She is a great teacher for personal and professional lessons. We all have a little bit of everything in this world and thus we never know what and who will walk in and we have to be ready to receive and support all of it with no preparation or planning. This means that we are constant students in the space. Being very different with our personalities helps us know who should work with a certain person who walked in and who shouldn’t. It works! It has also helped us learn about ourselves more.
What has been your most impactful/memorable moment as the owners of Botanikal Metaphysical Boutique thus far?
The most favorite part is watching the relationships turn into family. People will come back and check-in and update us on their life changes. College students coming back home during their breaks will come in to see us and give us the 411. Clients who become parents come back and want to introduce us to their baby. These moments give us so much joy and makes it all the more special. If people can trust you with the most beautiful aspects of who they are, that’s amazing!