Paula Hopkins has a piece of pyrite in her pocket, and that’s not unusual for her. “I carry crystals on me at all times,” she explained.
Pyrite is a two-for-one stone that grounds a person while also drawing in success. Considering that within four years, Hopkins has gone from operating her crystal business, Chakra Zulu, from her dining room table in Seminole Heights to having a warehouse, a robust online following, and features in Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan, the pyrite might be helping.
Grand opening May 22
4907 N Florida Ave. Suite B, Tampa
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays
Crystals, like Tarot, are having a mainstream moment. You can find them all over the place, from Anthropologie to Marshalls, but Ms. Hopkins wanted to offer her customers a more practical option. While you can still buy a chunk of amethyst or garnet bracelet from Chakra Zulu, her shop—located at 4907 N Florida Ave. Suite B across from Microgroove—specializes in curated sets for things like dream recall, communication, or your zodiac sign.
“I definitely wanted to offer functional crystal sets; that was always the idea,” she said. “Like, ‘Hey, are you a Leo? Are you struggling with heartbreak? Do you need a boost of joy?”
While Hopkins is happy to offer crystal prescriptions, she still wants customers to follow their gut. “I’m a firm believer in what you are drawn to is what you need,” she said.
Hopkins knows this from experience. Born and raised in Seminole Heights, Ms. Hopkins would carry around a piece of rose quartz with her everywhere as a kid. Though she drifted away from crystals in her teen years, she returned to them in her late 20s when she bought herself another piece of rose quartz.
“When I ordered [the rose quartz], it had the meaning wrapped around it, and when I read it, it took my breath away,” she said. “And it literally just snowballed from there.”
At 29, when she was preaching the gospel of crystals to friends and family, she decided to start Chakra Zulu with only an Instagram page. “I didn’t really have an expectation for it. I was like, ‘I’m going to do this because I like it, and I don’t get tired of it.”
Within three years, she outgrew her dining room table and her garage. She opened a storefront in 2019 but had to shutter after nine months due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, her online business was booming. The store experienced a steady growth in the spring when people were locked in and looking for beautiful and emotionally grounding things for their homes. Then, in the summer, Chakra Zulu was featured in Buzzfeed,
Soon after that, Kate Hudson’s Fabletics athleisure and lifestyle company jumped on the Black witch bandwagon. All of that led to an explosion in sales.
By the winter, with a feature in Cosmopolitan, where Hopkins’s shop was listed as no. 2 on a list of “20 Black-Owned Occult Brands Every Witch Should Know,” retailers were hitting up Hopkins and inquiring about wholesale.
It was on this wave of success that Hopkins decided to open a storefront again.
The grand opening is this weekend on May 22. Tentative shop hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. In addition to shopping hours, Hopkins plans to have crystal meet-ups and educational classes, from learning about chakra points to manifesting workshops to how to use crystals in your daily lives.
She also offers an unofficial service. When I tell Hopkins that I myself have bought numerous crystals throughout the years, only to forget the name and purpose of the stone immediately, she gives me a smirk.
“Bring ‘em in,” she says. “I’ll tell you.”
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