Keys of Paradise: a growing local Pagan business

Keys of Paradise LLC, a local Pagan-owned business, is moving into a larger production facility in the old Hamm’s Beer Brewery in East Saint Paul. Their new 1358 square feet facility offers space for production, a meeting room, a healing space, classes, and their main offices.

“There is a lot of work to do, but it’s coming along great. We should be done in the next couple weeks. We’re almost done painting and putting up the walls.” said Co-owner Cameron Cegelske ,  “We were operating out of several rooms in my house for the longest time; however in late December we moved into this new space and have been working on getting it set up. It just outgrew my house.”

They are busily painting the walls with herbal colors, and setting up their production spaces. Production Lead, Abby Viszlay said, “We found a place we can make our own.”

They are already developing plans to utilize the facility in innovative ways. Many of the spaces around them are rented to artists, and they are working with their new neighbors for future developments. Cegelske said, “We’re fortunate to have lots of creative people to work with.”

A restaurant might be moving in nearby, which could help for opening up retail options. Cegelske plans to set up a retail display in their entry. “It’s not our primary purpose for this space, but I’ve got this great area, so I might as well display some of our great products.”

Cameron Cegelske founded Keys of Paradise LLC in February 2009 with Michael Forde, a PhD candidate from the University of Cardiff, Wales who originally comes from Trinidad. Forde has a deep love of oils and perfumes and is working towards his doctorate in chemistry. Forde is an expert formulator, having written the majority of the formulas Keys of Paradise uses in its products.

Forde said “These formulas are not just text-book recipes, but are often dictated by the divine ones themselves.” For example, an age-old standard Wiccan oil formula usually becomes a Keys of Paradise formula by the addition of special herbs or the use of a special inspired blessing and mixing technique. “This is what makes our products so special and useful to every heart, regardless of the path they follow or even if they believe in the Divine or not”.

Viszlay has been interested in essential oils since she was 13 years old, and she said jokingly, “I’ve been with the company since day three.”

Cegelske said, “I get days one and two, she came along on day three, and then there was light.”

Keys of Paradise isn’t just a Pagan business, but a spiritual enterprise. They view their essential oil blends as spiritual tools. Cegelske said, “No matter what their religious view, we want to offer people the Keys of Paradise.” He continued, “We really emphasize the use of natural products versus synthetics which is so common in the marketplace. Everything made by nature has a certain amount of the divine in it and we bring out the divine spark to benefit our customers. It is very difficult to get the proper energy into and out of the things we make without that spark.”

June 2009 their sales began when the Sacred Paths Center started carrying their products. They have also traveled to several festivals and expos. In May of 2010 they started importing bulk herbs from around the world, which is now a significant part of their business. Cegelske said “It’s a lot of work dealing with import/export processes in each country, suppliers that don’t speak English, US Customs and the FDA, but it really keeps things going for us as we expand and gain more market share.”

Viszlay added, “It’s nice that we can get it right from the farms that grow the herbs, which is important to us.” They described the incredible freshness of their herbs, noting that when they place an order, in some cases the farmers will go out and harvest right then. They are also helping these farmers make a living, which they find very gratifying.

Forde said, “Our focus for the herbal part of Keys of Paradise is not just to get the cheapest herbs but the best quality herbs which can be used for any purpose.” Many shops selling herbs for magical purposes say they should not be used for cooking or other alternative purposes. “Most of our herbs can be used for all of their well-known applications outside the magical applications too.”

Initially the business was operating out of Cegelske’s house. It was in the middle bedroom, then it took over the dining room, then the porch, then the family room, and into the hall. Cegelske said, “When it had worked its way into over 50% of the house, it was time to move out.” So Keys of Paradise starts their third year of operation with a new facility. “Energetically and spiritually, it couldn’t grow anymore, so we had to move.”

Although Viszlay is the production lead, she had also been running the office during the day. They recently hired an office manager, so now she can focus more on product manufacture and development.

Their goal is to have more stores carrying their products, and to eventually go global. Keys of Paradise offers wholesale discounts and drop ship accounts for those customers and retailers interested in carrying their products. They are planning to expand into the UK soon to help drive that goal of global operations and take advantage of a huge market in that country and beyond. Cegelske said “It’s fun being involved with this opportunity and seeing my baby grow.”

Keys of Paradise LLC will also be one of the sponsors for Paganicon and will be having their official open house April 23. They are currently having a sale with 20% off all mystical oils and 10% off all herbs to support and celebrate the move to the new location.

Keys of Paradise LLC can also now offer local customers the option of picking up their products in order to avoid shipping costs. On-line orders can enter the free shipping code “CUSTPICKUP” to pick up the products directly from the facility.

For more information about Keys of Paradise LLC, upcoming events or to speak about their products, you can contact Keys of Paradise at 612-293-5397, online or on Facebook. There are also many more photos of the new space on the Facebook page.