In the heart of Ville Emard, a few blocks west of the 1950s Dairy Queen walk-up, north of an OG dive bar but south of a cute and trendy cafe, over the river and not-so-far-away (okay, Plateau?) is a whimsical gothic fairytale of a bath and beauty shop.
Casting spells of enchantment on all who enter, Spooks and Spanks is a delight to the senses and a deep cathartic sigh of relief from, erm, everything.
Cold pressed soap bars in pinks, purples, blues, and midnight black line the shelves, each one looking like a pop art sculpture with body-safe glitter, gummy bears, tombstones and vampire fangs as the cherry-on-top, NOT TO MENTION how delicious each one smells. I often wish I could eat them. Body butter, moon milk, whipped soap, and candles are just some of the products you’ll find inside the lavender splashed Spooks and Spanks, all hand made in-house by founder Alicia Salvador Guedes, aka Spooks.
If it sounds like I’m fan-girling hard, it’s because I am. I started following Spooks and Spanks very early in the pandemic when Alicia was making candles for her new online store, and have watched her business blossom into something incredibly magical.
Tragically, print doesn’t convey the full spectrum of laughs we shared throughout our conversation, just one of the reasons Alicia is such a joy to be around. She’s warm, welcoming, and bubbly, passionate about her community, and her invigorating energy is contagious.
With spooky season upon us (and the old-school DQ open until the end of the month) I hope our conversation inspires you to hop on your broomstick or however the hell you navigate this precious nightmare of a city and visit the cutest, spookiest boutique south of the canal.
How did you arrive at the name Spooks and Spanks?
I never thought I’d go anywhere with Spooks and Spanks, so I just wanted to find a silly name that would keep people’s attention. But now that I think about all of it, I love it. It’s a lil naughty, a lil playful, a lil spooky, and I think it makes a lot of sense with who I am as a person but also for the brand that I built.
…Although sometimes it can be a little bit awkward having people walking in and asking why the spanks part (laughs). Do people actually do that??
Yeah, a lot of people actually. People think I have a sex shop in here (we laugh).
The brand you’ve created has a very clear aesthetic. Who or what are your inspirations?
Halloween is obviously a big part of my inspiration, but I wanted to do a little less classic, a little bit more spooky cute type vibes. I like to think of Spooks and Spanks as being a mesh of Tim Burton and Animal Crossing and of course Lush.
I’ve seen posts online where you mention having ADHD – me too. Can you talk about some of the ways having ADHD impacts you as a business owner and creative?
I feel like it might be because I have ADHD that I’ve been able to build the business to where it is. ADHD is almost a super power because when you get bored in one place, you can focus your attention on another part of the business that’s just as much fun, and you grow it. And at some point, you’ll go back to getting interested in what you got disinterested in.
Right, because now you have the very real responsibility of having a business, but you get to play around within this big fun boundary that you’ve created.
Exactly, that’s how I feel. When I was in graphic design, we went to go visit Sid Lee, they’re a big design agency world wide and the marketing director said how everyone says to think outside the box but actually what’s cool is to think within the box and all the cool stuff you can do within the box. I love that.
I worked for 12 years as a graphic designer before I started Spooks and Spanks, and that’s also something I really enjoy. And everything social media, youtube, I’m also a video editor, I went to school for that too, and it’s great to be able to put all those interests in one place and build something concrete. I love talking about community and part of what I want to do through this project and through SnipnBitch is build community–
–Yes, I like that because that’s what I find so cool about small businesses, is that we have the power of building communities. It’s not just about what we do and what we sell, but it’s also about the message that we bring out in the community that we build.
What’s your message?
Well I hope for people to embrace themselves as they are, be authentic, and ya know, if you like the weird stuff then that’s totally fine (laughs). I’ve got to meet a whole bunch of people through all of this and we’re all weirdos and that’s what’s so amazing. I can be totally myself with these people and this is why I feel like I’m so in my space.
Have you intentionally curated community within your business?
It wasn’t intentional back then, but by posting things on social media and people replying, we realized we were struggling with similar things and it builds a community. But now I want that to keep going cause it’s so fabulous, ya know? So I’m trying to make markets over here and all that stuff.
That’s so cool, tell me more about the markets.
I have a market called Manifest Pop, we did the first two at TurboHaus. The next one we’re doing for our Halloween party here, plus celebrating our first anniversary of the storefront.
Another one of the goals with Spooks and Spanks is to build artistic communities where we can all support each other because we know it’s hard (laughs). I feel like it would be so much easier if we would all just support each other. So now I’m trying to help out a little bit.
I feel like the work you do is quite magical and in a very real way you’re concocting potions and creating things that can be used ritualistically in moments of self care, or even for spellwork or alters for those that are into that. On a deeper level, past the aesthetics and name of your business, what does magic mean to you?
Hm…. that’s a difficult question.
I feel like everyone has a bit of magic inside of them, you just have to curate it or help it a little bit. You have to believe in it also, and be open to seeing those little moments and signs.
But I think for that, you have to have a pivotal moment in your life where it kind of happened to you. A bit like what happened to me with Spooks and Spanks, like I wanted it so much that it actually ended up happening, you know, and to me that’s wild.
It wasn’t effortless, I know there’s work behind this, but I put it out there that I wanted a shop, I wanted to meet awesome people with philosophies like mine and build communities around artistic and spooky and magical stuff, and it ended up happening. That’s wild to me. So I’ve been more in tune with all that stuff since then.
What’s a tiny thing that brings you joy?
Oh my god, like bees and flowers. That’s one of my favourite things, like just watching big ol’ bumble bees, I love that. Coffee. Rainbows. Um, fun wall textures – textures are so much fun. My monstera is one of my favourite things in here, Monica the Monstera! I love her.