Every October, tourists and partygoers flock to Salem hoping to immerse themselves in the dark and ghoulish spirit of Halloween, but in a bright-pink room on North Street, a cheerful, inviting witch casts spells of joy, love, and growth for children year-round. She’s Swampscott’s Ashley Tina — The Good Witch.
Tina, an author and businesswoman, started her career teaching first grade and preschool special education in Revere. As much as she enjoyed teaching, she said she wanted to expand her education skills beyond the classroom and teach children more than just academics.
“I saw and experienced the need for kids to have guidance and to be supported socially and emotionally. When you think of a teacher, you think of the academic side, but children will not succeed and they will not move forward until they feel comfortable in their environment,” Tina said. “I wanted to reach children on a larger scale beyond the 20 that I would see every day.”
By 2017, Tina conceptualized “The Good Witch of Salem” as an idea for a children’s book about a benevolent witch, dressed in pink, who gazes into a crystal ball to find people in need of kindness and love. To fund her self-published book, Tina held seasonal children’s parties and arts and crafts “potion-brewing” events dressed as the pink witch each October.
“It was just the idea of having this pink witch that talked to kids and loved kids and made pink cats and wrote a book. Then it led into the social-and-emotional learning journey that kind of bridged together the two — the teaching and the events,” Tina said.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Tina quit her teaching job in Revere to focus on her business full-time. She published her book and expanded her event programming, frequently hosting events such as trolley tours, costume parties, and “magical tea parties.”
Tina went on to open her 2 North St. shop in 2021, where she held events and began selling pink witch hats, jewelry, books, and other Good Witch merchandise. She said her pink store space was meant to act as a beacon of positive magic for children and families visiting Salem.
“It’s really a turning point for Salem because I definitely have been able to target and reach more childr
en and families visiting the area,” Tina said. “The Good Witch offers this light and this safe spot — it’s a place of happy magic for kids to see when they come to Salem. They’re greeted with an experience that leaves them with light rather than darkness.”
The Good Witch business, Tina said, has become as much of a light for her as it is for the children she hosts and teaches. On numerous occasions, Tina said she has seen children come to breakthrough realizations about themselves at her events, sometimes crying tears of joy.
At one particular magic-potion event, Tina said an 11-year-old girl, after being instructed to imagine the aspects of her life for which she’s grateful, broke into tears expressing love for her friends and her mother.
“When I’m able to guide children to see the important things in life and what makes them special, those are the significant moments,” Tina said. “For a lot of kids who are more introverted, having them express their feelings and thoughts is a big deal. They’re overcoming something significant in their development and there’s a greatness for them to express feelings, especially at such a young age.”
The Good Witch of Salem has expanded to now host events daily, sometimes holding two or three different children’s gatherings in one day. During the holiday season, Tina said the company collects clothes, food, toiletries, and supplies to donate to local food pantries, shelters, and schools for The Good Witch’s Holiday Hearts mission.
Although she puts on a pink witch costume and holds magic-themed events, Tina said she never has to act when she interacts with children. The Good Witch, she said, is simply her personality around children draped in a pink dress.
“The Good Witch is really who I am,” Tina said. “It’s the exact way I talk to kids, it’s me being a teacher, it’s really just me being authentically who I am. I’m just wearing a different outfit and a hat, and making the approach to children a lot more magical than their everyday experience would be.”