January 29, 2020 341 PM
MARFA — Two local Marfa businesses have joined forces to open an apothecary/floral studio location on Highland. Ocotillo Botanica, owned by Alexis Smith, and Magic Hour Marfa, owned by Lizzy Wetzel, officially opened their doors last Friday.
Half of the space is Magic Hour, the other half is Ocotillo Botanica and they meet in the middle at a large wooden table. Inside the shop you can find fresh flowers and handcrafted goods on the Magic Hour side, and herbs and herbal products on the Ocotillo Botanica side.
The two women have worked together before at Wetzel’s former location.
“I worked for Lizzy when she had Magic Hour across from Stripes,” Smith said. “I’ve been with her since she opened the shop over there, helping her run it day to day.”
Magic Hour has been in business for almost 6 years as an event production company, and about a year and a half as retail space.
Smith, owner of Ocotillo Botanica, studied with the Herbal Academy of New England and says herbalism is an intuitive practice. “A lot of learning from your ancestors, the plants themselves – a lot of trial and error.”
“Herbalism is very new to my family,” Smith said. Prior to Ocotillo Botanica, Smith owned a company called Marfa Plants.
Smith had been coming out to West Texas since she was a child; her mother is from Big Spring. They would spring break in Big Bend or camp in Fort Davis. “I always felt called to this area,” she said. “Even as a kid I knew I’d end up out here.”
She says she has always practiced intuitive herbalism, even without knowing what it was. When she started Marfa Plants, Smith realized there was no where to get a tomato plant around here, so she started growing a bunch of seedlings. Over time she felt like she needed to do more with the plants, though.
“I felt like there was some deeper connection there that I needed to tap into,” Smith said. “After a hiking trip, I really bonded with the chaparral plants [commonly known as creosote], and I wanted to make my own version of the chaparral salve.”
“Something about it didn’t click, so I fiddled around with it for a while and that was one of my first herbal salves,” she said. She was able to sell it next to her plants at the local farmers market, starting about two years ago.
This wasn’t the first herbal preparation she had made, but it was the first time that she had done something with locally forged plants, and focused on a specific plant versus a specific ailment.
Smith makes everything on the apothecary side except the candles. The ingredients aren’t always locally forged, but are when they can be. “If I can find a good source for something locally, then I’ll jump on that as soon as possible,” Smith said.
She grows her own chamomile, lemon balm, and peppermint at home. The ocotillo, chaparral and juniper are all locally forged. There are a lot of things that don’t grow out here, though, so Smith supplements whatever she can with a desert plant when necessary.
“Herbalism is the people’s medicine, so it should be available to the people,” Smith said. “I really wanted to bring that sense of connection, and it doesn’t really shine through as much as it does when you work with a plant.”
Smith says that Ocotillo Botanica is a space where people can come in and learn, experiment and figure out what works for them. She would like to offer workshops and clinics in the future and eventually would like to teach kids how to grow their own herbs and how to work with them. “Herbalism isn’t just for adults, it’s for everybody,” she said.
She says she would like to incorporate the community as much as possible, whether that is through a workshop or a one-on-one consultation.
“There’s no way I’d want to do this job anywhere else,” Wetzel said as she’s trimming flower stock. “It’s all about the community here. The team that we’ve pulled together to make things happen is the most magical part of Magic Hour.”
Wetzel says she really enjoys the design aspects of the floral side of things at Magic Hour. Opening the shop originally was a step toward being able to bring flowers to other people in town every day, not just out-of-towners getting married out here.
She has curated a collection of makers featured on the Magic Hour side of the store, including people who have made custom textiles and place settings for Wetzel’s events before. “Being able to morph Magic Hour to the thing I want it to be has been cool,” she said. “I also don’t know if that would be possible in another city or environment.”
Before moving to Marfa, Wetzel was an artist and teacher. She taught art to folks of all ages at a private studio school. She moved out here to give herself an artist residency, creating and dying textiles.
Magic Hour offers floral subscriptions, in-store ready-made bouquets or a build-your-own option. Wetzel says that several businesses, restaurants, and Airbnbs in Marfa work with her for floral arrangements.
The flowers come packed on ice, overnight. The best day to pick up a bouquet is any day, but they are the freshest on Tuesday.
There will be a grand opening party this Sunday, February 1 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a DJ and refreshments from Stellina. The store is located at 115 N Highland.