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Interview with GutsyGingers

Pagans of the North speak to…GutsyGingers

For our Trader of the Month series, we have been approaching various traders around the North of England to link up with. When we got in touch with GutsyGingers in Whitby, we were pleasantly surprised to hear exactly how much Ginger, the owner, had to say. We shrank down her response for the magazine but now for our online blog exclusive, here it is in its entirety. Over to the woman herself.

Where do I begin…? I sit under the Hunter's full moon as we hurtle towards Samhain, putting pen to paper to try to get across answers for the simple questions I've been asked:

Can you tell us about Gutsy Gingers?

Firstly, what started as my passion for travel and creativity became my lifestyle - and here I am, still fortunate to be doing what I love twenty-four years later!

As a henna artist aged fourteen, I began on the unknown, wondrous, winding path to what brings me here today writing to you.

Often nicknamed 'Wonderland' or 'Aladdin's cave', we dwell three floors high, nestled in this little corner of the world in a small fishing port steeped in history, folklore, and spiritual heritage, globally renowned as Whitby.

Since 2001, GutsyGingers took the plunge from being a free-spirited, travelling individual, trading my bizarre and ethnic finds at UK-wide festivals, to being drawn to these four walls (many have said over the years - or would argue - that I was sent here). I fell in love instantly with its quirks and its energy, and knew that it would be the right foundation to build my dreams on - and I certainly have done that!

I'm going into my 20th year now of the shop, and wow!, what a journey it's been - certainly too many tales for an article, more like a book!

I live, sleep, eat, and breathe my business, and after all these years my customers are more like family. The years have brought me a whole community of individuals, of whom each and every one should be celebrated in their own right. I've been very lucky.

Many have asked over the years why I work so hard (sometimes to the detriment of my health, although I've learnt to pace this in recent years). My answer simply isn't financial reasons. My wealth is the people, friendships and bonds I've made. The crossing of life paths amongst individuals that have benefited my own path, or I genuinely believe have changed their lives because of the connections people have made through GutsyGingers. You cannot buy this with money. It's purely a bank of good karma instead, good energy, based in the philosophy that good thoughts to the ether attract your tribe.

My stock lines are the same as many esoteric shops; yes I do incense, candles, crystals etc., but the real individualism that people love and admire is the hand designed aspect of my jewellery and clothes. The love, the energy, my spirituality, my journey… all are reflected in my creations, and people see that clearly.

I'm often told my silver designs tell a story, reflecting my love for mehandi (henna) and my self education and travelling, with the thirst for learning cultural patterns and symbols, along with my extensive crystal healing knowledge.

My clothing label 'Gippy's by GutsyGinger' reflects both the Gothic and the Hippy side of myself Goth/Hippy = Gippy!); the two worlds collide making something truly unique and beautiful.

I don't produce on a mass scale either, which also adds to the rarity and global demand for my designs.

Where does the name come from?

The name GutsyGingers and where it comes from is something I'm often asked.

At a very young age I had some health issues thrown at me that many believed would be to my detriment and stop me from fulfilling the working life I had envisioned.

I strove to defy those odds, and when I accomplished this my mum said to me, 'You're gutsy ginger you are, against all odds'. She was right, and it stuck. For this reason, I always strive to encourage others to find that inner essence: their strength.

When I opened the door to my shop for the very first time, the first person through was a young ginger girl. She was within a group and reminded me very much of my younger self, which at times had been difficult due to the colour of my hair. When she came (last) to pay for her goods, I gave her a 10% 'ginger discount' and I swear she walked out of the building two feet taller. Twenty years on I still do that - discount those ginger people who take a picture of themselves outside and post it to our social media! There are thousands!

In the past I've been known to check the window from Ginger Towers, my home above the shop, to see if there's a lightning storm brewing - only to find another flash of a camera catching yet another titian-haired being smiling with pride. It certainly fills my heart.

This building perched on top of the hill that houses my creations is permeated by the scent of tree resins and incense, twinkling with exotic lighting, the brickwork foundation shaken from the gentle repetitive rhythms that have been played through its bones. It has been a comfort to many over the last two decades, activating the senses of those that have stepped across its threshold. Lights, sounds and smells, many people finding the need to return for more!

Can you describe your Pagan path?

Firstly, I never went looking to be a Pagan, it found me.

From a very early age I've been happiest in nature - around a fire, walking barefoot in damp grass, swimming freely in open waters, and most of all I have always had the motto to treat others as I would like to be treated.

I never 'got' a bible-based religion that was taught to me at a school age; I knew that was never for me from the start. I've always followed what I was drawn to, from within, my heart.

Travelling introduced my senses to many belief systems, all of which brought to me colour, scents, and the magic of gathering around an open fire, sharing our stories, and different bits of 'magic' we each see in this beautiful world. I still follow that to this day. I feel I have a gift to pick up on peoples' energy, aura, chakras…whichever you prefer.

I love people and the synchronicities that life gives us. To me, that right there, that is magic.

I believe in the power of Mother Nature/Gaia and all her bounty. Crystals, minerals, flowers, plants and herbs are all there for us to use in order to learn her ways.

I love celebrating the Pagan calendar. My favourite is at our local henge at Thornborough. I have traded and been involved as a caller (Spirits of the East) in previous Beltane ceremonies. It's one of my happy places and we are so lucky to have it so close.

What do you see for your business in the future?

I'm always up for change even though it's scary at times, and I believe we are always evolving and growing. My business is a big part of that - as I stated, it's my life and my life's work so far.

For twenty years I have always refused the internet (scary change!) as a platform for my business based on my ethos of human connection. Those who have frequented GutsyGingers will back me up and say I'm forever saying to anyone who asks if I have a website that "I don't as it doesn't have the facility of a 'touch', 'sniff', 'feel', and 'hug you as you leave' button"!

That was, until COVID-19.

Forced into a position of survival I've spent the last 18 months adapting, evolving, and learning new skills, and with that GutsyGingers now has a huge presence on Etsy that surprises me each week in how far we are reaching out to people from farthest of places across the globe.

The Pagan community has been massive for me across the world, and knowledge of my clothing range and other treasures I create is growing daily. I have to eat my words really because I really wouldn't have believed in it prior to the pandemic - in fact, that was one change I point blank refused!

The last 18 months have given me time out from physically 'being' with my customers, and that's been so hard - as stated before, that's my 'wealth'. The positive is that I've had the time to reflect, go inwards, listen to my inner guides, and my intuition.

I had a very lucid dream where the door of the shop was a stable door with the top part open but secured with the most beautiful flowing wrought ironwork slotted in, making GutsyGingers still visible from the outside…

I had it more than once…

I made it a reality (as you can see from the pictures).

'The Hatch' as it's now known was born. My way to still safely interact with the outside world, my community. The wheels began to turn again last summer 2020. It's become a novelty way to shop, press a bell and Gutsy Ginger appears (often in her slippers!) laden with silver or scents depending on your request! The connections have become more intense as I have had the time to be one-on-one with individuals who need my service - whether it be purely material goods, or more spiritual, often in a guidance manner. It's certainly changed the game!

I haven't actually had a customer in since March 2020; as I say, there are three floors, but it's LADEN, and the temptation of touching everything in sight and trying to keep any sort of distance has proven to be a logistical nightmare!

The future as it stands therefore has led me to make changes to the way we work, the way the world is seemingly beginning to work. People are shopping more & more online, it's crazy. It's great for handmade things to use a platform like we do such as Etsy, but if we are not careful I believe we will end up with very few individual shops that aren't chains or giant superstores with everything under one roof. We need to re-connect, maintain the interactions, after all it's what we are designed to do - it feeds our soul.

So this has all led to the future of GutsyGingers being more of a personal shopping experience. The situation we find ourselves in is still very apparent and doesn't look to be changing very quickly: for that reason I am reopening my doors but not en masse. I'm opening to individuals who want to come in on an appointment basis, an exclusive booked time for them to enter, have scents of their choice lit for them to indulge, samples of my clothing or silver range laid out in their size, music playing, and warm drinks flowing; a personal shopping experience. I can let them soak up the atmosphere that is GutsyGingers at their own leisure and I'm there to help, guide and advise them on goods specific to their needs or current spiritual journey.

Our online presence is proving to be a handy almost catalogue-like tool for those who are new to us and have no prior knowledge of my creations/ stock lines. They often take a card, grab a coffee, or return a few hours later showing me the screen of their device asking 'can I buy this please?'. It's so different from how I imagined, but it works!

Growing up in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, I leapt at the chance in November 2020 when the opportunity came knocking to open a little unit within the old salerooms on Diamond Street, which hold fond memories of my childhood. It's a unit within the building and still gives an opportunity to those who want to have a little taste of what I have to offer at GutsyGingers with no restrictions to still have a touch, sniff, and a good look through my textiles and homewares, and so far that too is working.

Do you have any advice to give to other Pagans?

Yes, absolutely.

Like anything with a label in this life, there are many, many variations under that heading.

Be you. Don't feel like within your Pagan path you need to tick boxes or adhere to a particular practice or style or way to fit in, in order to be Pagan. Be you.

In this busy, noisy world it's often hard to find what's within, and to trust you have the powers already within your soul. Listen to the inner thoughts, use nature as the pause button - the calm amongst the chaos - to find it; listen. There are many people out there offering a lot of spiritual abundance with a price tag attached. So much of what you need is within. So much of what you need for your pagan life is within nature. There are so many options out there now that are safe to explore, and that in itself is a wondrous thing. Over time there have existed so many of us, the community is growing, but yet so many of us staying true to ourselves will remain different whilst standing side by side. Follow your path, and there are those like me who are also still journeying (starting a herbology course this year!), who will guide you freely as our paths cross. The pagan family holds such a sense of belonging, feeling connected.

Your family's childhood gives you roots; we all have the power within to find our wings, we just need the confidence to listen to that inner voice.

It's been an absolute pleasure writing these words, so thank you to Pagans of the North. The timing is so apt, particularly in these strange times that we find ourselves in. Writing has given me another opportunity to reflect, take time, and revisit my past. It has been an affirmation of my path and what I'm doing. Realising I'm still true to my beliefs, my intentions, and my ethos. It's also given me an inner warmth and smile to hug myself and say 'Well done, Ginger' 🥰🧡

Love & Light

💫🧡 GutsyGinger 🧡💫

Photos by Angela Child

You can find GutsyGingers at:

4 Brunswick Street, Whitby, Redcar & Cleveland YO21 1RB

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