Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Jameson.
Hi Courtney, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I went to ASU & received my BA in Creative Writing for Poetry. I lived in California for a few years, receiving my MFA in Poetry from Saint Mary’s College of CA.
When I moved back to AZ nearly ten years ago, I was trying to find my place. I had just had a baby & just finished getting my master’s & I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do then. I got a full-time job working for CVS corporate office, so I could at least live, but it also gave me the means to start both my businesses. In the summer of 2016, I started a small press, White Stag Publishing, publishing poetry anthologies alongside my friend & former colleague from Saint Mary’s. KT & I began publishing anthologies, where we’d open a call for submissions centered around a specific theme, choose the poems we wanted to publish, & build & print the books. Since then, we’ve published nearly ten anthologies & almost ten full-length manuscripts of poetry (whitestagpublishing.com).
While working on White Stag & CVS, I was suffering from a bout of depression & an anxiety disorder I’ve had since I was a teenager. I was struggling to get through the day & was looking for any road to recovery. In the process of healing, I started ritualizing certain daily mundane things & reading a lot of ritual & witchcraft books. While doing this, I became very interested in various forms of Paganism & began exploring my Celtic roots. In doing so, I was inspired to create my second business Crimson Sage LLC, an online shop selling ritual tools, metal alchemy, & functional esoteric art (crimsonsageaz.com). My husband also joined the business, where he makes hand-forged metal bowls & runs a lot of the back-end business. Since then, I quit CVS & went full-time running my business. We have been selling online & also made a bit of a splash in the witchcraft community here in Phoenix, participating in Pagan Pride Day & in the Witchcraft market events. Publishing poetry & making things was a childhood dream I was able to make into a reality!
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Running any business is never a smooth road. If someone else has found it to be, I NEED their tips!
We were initially Crimson Sage Apothecary, but an ex-pharmacist selling kaleidoscopes at a craft market did not agree with our business & reported us to the AZ Dept of Pharmaceuticals, where they sent us a cease & desist regarding the “apothecary” part of our business name. Apparently, that word is legally reserved for licensed pharmacies. We were then forced to change our name & website. He continued stalking our business & complaining to the Director of the Dept of Pharmaceuticals, who did his best to work with us until he eventually left us alone. It was difficult bc not only was it a pain & very costly to change all that info, but it was very discriminatory to our business for being pagan. It took me a couple of years to trust going to markets again. Thanks to Witchcraft for creating a space for businesses like mine.
I would also like to say this particular year has been the most challenging year since starting both of my businesses. As prices are going up everywhere, it’s been a lot more difficult to run this business & maintain sales at the rate we are used to. We have also had to raise our prices in both businesses because materials & printing costs have increased significantly too.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’ve always been interested in the esoteric arts & the intersection of mysticism & poetry. I love writing about witchcraft, and I love making things for practitioners! When I first got into it, I would have to scour the valley for metaphysical shops that sold items I needed for the Pagan holidays. I could never find everything in one place & it was then that I decided I would start building ritual sets based on the Pagan holidays where people like me, who wanted to celebrate & build an altar but didn’t have time or accessibility to metaphysical shops, could get all the items they needed in one place. I’ve been selling those sets for about four years with accompanying ritual pages I write myself. My husband also burns corresponding boxes & hand forges metal cauldrons about each season. This is one of the items we are mainly known for in our shop. We are a brand, not just a shop, & most of our items are handmade by us. We try to make unique items & items made in unique ways. There are some things in our shop you won’t find anywhere else in the way we make them.
I also started making Slavic-inspired floral crowns about a year ago & love making them! I’m very proud of them since my husband & I came up with the design together. They have become a staple piece in the shop, along with our feather quills. (PS, my first Etsy shop was selling authentic feather quills!)
I have my chapbook of poetry called “The Unrequited of Red Riding Hood & her Lycan Lover,” published by Dancing Girl Press in 2016. I have also had multiple poems appear in various online & print journals throughout the years.
Had we loved to hear about any fond memories you have from growing up?
Wow, this one is tough, I have a few, but the first one that comes to mind is eating french fries with my Grampy while riding our horses in the desert. I was about 5 or 6 & I had a miniature pony named Shorty. My Grampy had a white mare named Dusty. My mom was a single mother for the first few years of my life, so she was working on her degree & working full time so that I would hang out with my Grammy & Grampy a lot. I would put my red Rovers boots on with my jeans, and we’d stop at McDonald’s on the way to the ranch where my Grampy boarded our horses & he would show me all the ways to care for Shorty. Then, we saddle up & take the horses out for a ride at sunset while we’d eat our fries.
- Our books range between $10-20 at whitestagpublishing
- Pricing varies on items at crimsonsageaz.com
- Website: crimsonsageaz.com AND whitestagpublishing.com
- Instagram: @crimsonsageapoth AND @whitestagpublishing
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100039085187906
- Twitter: @WHITE_STAG_LIT
Crimson Sage LLC