The weather in Jersey City is delightful. The ceilings in Haleigh and Corrine’s apartment are high. The walls are splashed with sassy feminist slogans and a vintage porn collection that’s been lovingly collaged into a flower of lace, leather, and opened mouths. Haleigh accepts a compliment directed towards one of their cats, a sprite grey tabby who steals a donut straight off the coffee table. Haleigh’s hands go to her cheeks as she looks on in aww of the creature. She explains that the cat is even more beautiful because of the way the lighter fur on her nose contours her face. This moment of love and admiration perfectly encapsulates the friendship of Corrine and Haleigh, the founders of Babe Coven.
Brought to life in 2015, Babe Coven is a merchandise and events brand that works to bring women and non-binary creators together. One such event is their series of burlesque shows for beginners and veterans alike, which places an emphasis on creating space for marginalized dancers of all body types, races, and sexualities. The dominating pillars of the Babe Coven brand is an active focus on raising up non-cis men whenever they have the chance and creating room for them whenever and wherever possible. Alongside these events Babe Coven also offer shirts, bags, and underwear donning slogans like “Be a Slut, Do Whatever You Want” and “We Are The Queerdos, Mister.”
Though they are not romantic partners, Haleigh and Corrine are best friends who value friendship over nearly all other types of relationships. They’re kinky, polyamorous, pissed, and passionate about opening doors for other queer, witchy creators. Read on, you’ll love them:
Salty: In terms of the work that you two do together, how do you both compliment one another? What do you each bring to the table?
Corrine: Haleigh’s really good with the business end of the things and the numbers. She knows the fashion industry because she’s worked as a buyer; I’m not good at any of that. While we both have a say in the aesthetic of the brand and curating the instagram, my forte is in designing out the products. Although if you really look at it all, I suppose we’re both doing both things.
Haleigh: Everything is highly collaborative. There’s no one thing that either of us do alone. Nothing happens without both of us being 100% on board with it. Corrine is an artist and I’m not, so I can sketch an idea, but Corrine is the one who turns it into sellable artwork. She’s the one who brings what we come up with together to life.
Corrine: Haleigh is great at planning events and booking everything and I’m usually the one who on the day of events will be like “Hey everyone! Shut the fuck up!” if we need their attention.
Haleigh: Even on that though, Corrine has really brought me out of my shell. I’m a lot more vocal, loud, and aggressive when it comes to handling events the day of. There’s a very natural way that we fall into our specific roles. We never decided who would do what. It happened very organically.
Salty: How did you two become friends?
Corrine: I was living in Jersey City and Haleigh was living in upstate New York and we were both working at the same clothing company. I was designing and Haleigh was doing the buying.
Haleigh: I was interning at the time and then we both worked ourselves up to the head of our departments. That’s where we met.
Corrine: I was like “Oh my god, another cute fat girl.”
Haleigh: I remember coming home after Corrine’s first day and showing my partner her facebook and being like “LOOK AT THIS CUTE GIRL WHO JUST STARTED, I’M SO EXCITED.” Being the body-positive hero that she is, Corrine went on to start a project called Curvy Warrior, because our company was not great with body type representation. She invited me to do the second one and we hit it off.
Corrine: We did a Valentines Day shoot for Curvy Warrior and made a joke that we had to pretend to be best friends because it was supposed to be a friend shoot and then we became best friends.
Salty: And how did you decide that you wanted to found a business?
Haleigh: I love this story. So we went to this little town in Massachusetts called Northampton in 2015. Did you know that Northhampton is a lesbian mecca? It’s like, super gay. We had no idea when we went.
Corrine: We were there to see a live broadcast of this podcast called Lore. This was before it got huge.
Haleigh: One of the stories that Lore did was about this witch (she was a “witch” in the historical sense, meaning she was an old woman who didn’t go to church or follow the rules, and she was poor and had a garden) who was falsely accused of witchcraft. They attempted to hang her, but the next day she just waltzed back into town and end up living out her life and dying of natural causes.
Corrine: Fast forward, it turns out she’s an ancestor of Margaret Atwood who wrote a poem about her called “Half-Hanged Mary.” There’s a line in that poem that reads “Before I was not a witch but now I am one” — that resonated with us.
Haleigh: You turn to witchcraft because you don’t find belonging anywhere else. I think that’s the story for a lot of people.
Corrine: You know in The Craft when there’s finally four of them and they’re super powerful? Something in us had changed that day in Northampton. We walked around town feeling this collective emotion and decided “Why don’t we start a brand?”
Haleigh: Two weeks later we launched our first pin, which was two boots in different styles that represented us at the time: a classic witch boot and a doc marten. As we evolved and our practices changed as witches, so did the brand. We’ve stuck with the same ethos of community, femme empowerment, and self-love, but what that looks like has shifted.
Corrine: That became the Pink Witch and Kink Witch thing.
Salty.: And what’s that?
Corrine: It’s the duality we started with. Radical softness, pink witchery, and self love for me.
Haleigh: And I started to embrace the idea of sexuality and kink and rope as a form of radical practice and body positivity.
Salty.: So you practice rope tying as a form of self love and are very open about the process, often posting videos of yourself practicing on social media. Can you tell us a bit about why rope binding plays a role in your body positive lifestyle?
Haleigh: It’s similar to photographing oneself as a form of self love. It reminds me of my physical form and what I look like. I’ve spent a lot of tears on my appearance, but now some of the times I feel the most beautiful is when I’m tying myself up. A lot of what you see in the kink world is thinner bodies being tied up, but fat bodies tied up look completely different. All of those parts that are usually hidden are executed by binding. I’m reclaiming my body. This also led into Babe Coven’s burlesque shows.
Corrine: Yeah! So we hosted our first burlesque last fall and the second one was in February and there is another one coming in July.
Salty: How do you think your friendship interacts with discussing sexuality?
Corrine: I mean, our friends send nudes to one another if we’re feeling cute.
Salty: And do you think it’s important to be open about sexuality in order for your friendships to function?
Corrine: OH, yes. It wasn’t something when we first did when we became friends. Like we weren’t like, “Are you a slut? Oh my god, me too.”
Haleigh: I remember being really nervous to even come out to you.
Corrine: It’s so important to be open. Your friends are the only people besides yourself who can see relationships and sexuality clearly. It took me a long time to be okay with being queer, and if I’d never talked it through with Haleigh, I don’t think I would have even really known what I wanted. Even though I’m dating someone now (he’s a little freak and I love him), I recently went through this like slutty, queer year and Haleigh was always by my side and so ready to celebrate it with me.
Haleigh: I remember when I first came out to Corrine, I had been dating this one person for a very long time and was starting to realize that maybe this wasn’t the type of relationship life I wanted. I was so worried, I pulled her aside and was like “Corrine, I have something so important to tell you. I’m gay.”
Corrine: And I was like “Okay…and… what’s the important thing you had to tell me?”
Haleigh: Last week Corrine was like *laughs* “I haven’t seen a straight person in weeks!”
Corrine: How can you be yourself if your friends aren’t supporting you? If you can’t be open with them then who can you be open with?
Haleigh: Friendship is so important — maybe even more important than any romantic relationship you’ll ever have.
Corrine: It’s just how we live and breathe in a sense. Like, I look at my group of friends and I think, how are these people really my friends? They’re so queer and cool and beautiful. I remember one time at our old job, the light was hitting Haleigh at this really beautiful, ethereal angle and I couldn’t believe that my best friend was even real.
Salty: How does witchcraft shape your everyday life? Your sexuality?
Haleigh: When you’re a witch and you’re in tune with yourself magically, everything is ritual in a sense.
Salty: Your emphasis on supporting marginalized people has become such an important part of Babe Coven, don’t you think?
Corrine: Oh, fuck yeah. We do that as often as we can. We love social media shout outs (Witch Crush Wednesday) and we actually have a page on our website called “Witches We Love”.
Haleigh: It’s basically a whole page that links to other witches who do badass cool stuff.
Corrine: It’s really easy for women and non-binary people to feel like they can’t support other people like them because we’re told that there’s not enough room. It’s like men are taking up the rest of the space and we’re here to say that’s not true.
Liah Paterson is a Queens-based illustrator, writer, and professional crier. Find her full portfolio at www.liahpaterson.com