Witches Brew grows market for all things spooky with regular events and experiences

A ghoul greets revelers at a Krampus event put on by Witches Brew.
(Jessica Peralta)

When Dustie Haun and her daughter began their small business, they mainly sold gnomes and dolls. That soon transformed into their love for all things ghoulish, and they found a perfect place to share their wares with a horror-themed event company that sponsors events throughout Southern California.

“Witches Brew was one of our first-ever events when we started this business in 2020,” said Haun, who runs Spoopy Ghouls out of her home in Los Angeles. “We heard about the Witches Brew events through some of our other vendor friends who were starting out and after we tried one of the [Anaheim] Packing District events, we were hooked.”

Founded in the fall of 2019, Jacqueline Menjivar and her husband, Chris, started Witches Brew with a desire to create a market for like-minded fans of spooky things.

A Witches Brew event at the Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles.
Monthly nighttime markets from Witches Brew are scheduled to take place this year in Downtown Santa Ana and the Anaheim Packing District. Pictured, an event at the Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles.
(Jessica Peralta)

“We kicked off with a Magickal Marketplace and slowly started adding immersive elements,” said Jacqueline Menjivar.

It has since expanded to include a variety of regular events — from vendor-driven shopping to immersive experiences — in Southern California, including in Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego.

“I really wanted to combine all of the things that I loved — the occult, horror films, coffee, brews, music, etc.,” Menjivar. said. “We split off our immersive productions and themed cocktail experiences to Midnight Souls Productions — this is where you will find things such as Sinister Saloon … and Macabre Masquerade. Witches Brew features our monthly Night Markets, brewery events and our larger themed markets such as Carnaval de la Lune.”

Carnaval de la Lune is one of Witches Brews' larger themed markets.
Carnaval de la Lune is one of Witches Brews’ larger themed markets. The Anaheim Packing District and Downtown Santa Ana will host the business’ monthly Night Markets this year.
(Jessica Peralta)

Combined, the two production companies offer a broad mix of events and experiences. Sinister Saloon takes place at Sassafras Saloon in Los Angeles with a larger bar/burlesque/Western theme and rotating sub-themes, including Night of the Krampus for the holidays. It includes actors who walk around interacting with guests while in character as well as regular burlesque performances through the experience. Meanwhile the monthly Night Markets are scheduled to take place this year in Downtown Santa Ana, Anaheim Packing District and San Diego.

“We’ve since attended almost every kind of event Witches Brew has put on,” Haun said. “Although our top favorite event to vend, and attend, is at the Anaheim Packing District. We have tried many of their events, including one in San Diego that was also fantastic. We love them all and that is due to the great planning and character of the Witches Brew hosts.”

Some events like the Carnaval de la Lune, Wicked of Oz and “Little Shop of Horrors”-themed Immersive Sip & Shop Experience take place at historic locations. Carnaval de la Lune — this year themed “A Haunting Sideshow Experience,” takes place on May 25 and 26 with immersive entertainment, live music, carnival games, themed photo ops and more than 60 vendors — is at Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles. The Wicked of Oz features green beer and cocktails, photo ops, live performances, roaming characters and shopping on March 16 at Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana and the “Little Shop of Horrors”-themed event will be there on July 6 with cocktails, themed photo ops and shopping.

Menjivar said Wicked of Oz leans more “into the themed immersion while you shop, eat and drink, sip your way around the museum.”

A vendor table shines during Carnaval de la Lune.
(Jessica Peralta)

Kat Whitaker, of Los Angeles, owns mobile botanica the Sugarwitch Co. and has been attending Witches Brew events for just over a year. At the events, Whitaker sells natural soy intention candles, as well as body and spiritual care items that are free of the top 11 allergens.

“They are fun, well organized and inclusive of all kinds of witchy and horror-themed vendors,” Whitaker said. “The best part about the events we vend at with them is that they don’t charge an entry fee. Having spent years doing art prior and vending at conventions, horror conventions are pricey to vend at, but also pricey sometimes in terms of tickets for patrons. These events by [Witches Brew] allow more people to come and explore this genre of art and shopping as well as vending without hurting wallets. Recognizing that these are small businesses, the cost makes it easier on small business owners, as well.”

Menjivar, who runs her production companies as her full-time work, said Witches Brew has definitely expanded over the last few years.

“We went from having events canceled in the pandemic to hosting COVID-modified haunt experiences,” she said. “From immersive markets to now cocktail experiences — always trying to push the boundary and create bigger and better experiences. We did experience a few flops, especially over the last years. Yet, it’s been a truly amazing experience to meet and work with so many creative souls, and there are no regrets. We can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store for us.”

Sinister Saloon is presented by Midnight Souls Productions, a subsidiary of Witches Brew.
Sinister Saloon takes place at Sassafras Saloon in Los Angeles and is presented by Midnight Souls Productions, a subsidiary of Witches Brew.
(Jessica Peralta)