The Pretty Cult creates clothes for the “Rock & Roll Witch”

As a lifelong seamstress, designer and student of witchcraft, Arielle Salsa turned what was once a passion project into a full-time operation with The pretty cult. Since its inception, Salsa has designed and screen printed the majority of all its seamstress work to create a compelling fashion and lifestyle brand for the ‘Rock & Roll Witch’ at heart.

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Some pieces range from witchcraft-inspired t-shirts and custom flannels and jackets to her own line of tarot cards, prints and jewelry. Now with a small but dedicated team behind them, appearances at major music festivals and a growing online presence, Salsa and their team of “misfits and darkhearts” are on their way to becoming a household name within the rock community. Which begs the question: will you join the cult?

What is The Pretty Cult’s mission?

I like to say that we are for the “Rock & Roll Witch”, which is my slogan. We are a sect, but we are also a sect for anyone. We’re here for the misfits, the dark hearted and anyone who just doesn’t fit in with a focus on all things black and rock ‘n’ roll. Everything I sell and create is something I personally believe in and practice. If I sell a deck of tarot cards, it’s because I read tarot. If I sell things with Lilith, it’s because Lilith is a deity I study and know well. Everything with The Pretty Cult is authentic with no BS.

How did your journey with The Pretty Cult begin?

I’ve worked in music tours and always done The Pretty Cult on the side, but just as a passion project. I’ve been sewing since I was 10 but never went to fashion school — and that was just for fun. The Pretty Cult technically started when I was in college, and I was obsessed with [the Pretty Reckless frontwoman] Taylor Momsen and the stuff she would wear. As a broke student, I tried to do things like that myself, and it just grew from there. Eventually, I wasn’t fulfilled in my job and working for men – especially being a woman in a man’s world – so I decided to leave.

The Pretty Cult seems to have started with many sleepless nights and DIY basics to get to where it is now.

I still do a ton, but I have more team now. At first, this was all done from my one-bedroom apartment. My partner was willing to let me move our bed into the living room and sacrifice having a bedroom for a year and a half so I could have a place to work. It was chaos. I collaborated with Sargent House and their artists Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle and Ignota language where I had 500 jackets that I made piled up in the apartment. I was shipping and sewing everything from there to the point where it looked like we were living in a factory. I think back fondly, but I also can’t believe I lived like this. [Laughs.] Although I now have a seamstress and printer, I still rent studios, screen print things myself, and sew all the back patches for our flannels. I’m a “DIY to death” type of girl.

Speaking of the team you’ve built, how does it contribute to realizing your vision?

Most of my team is female. My assistant is awesome. Her name is Jesse and she helps me manage everything from fulfillment and events to just about everything else. Maya Holt is the in-house photographer as well as Ash Lot, and they are both part of the media tour team that accompanies me to all music festivals to do video, photo and social media management. My seamstress has her own business called Karla Ortega Fashion Studio and takes care of everything from design and sample creation to production. I’m really grateful to have found people who believe in it as much as I do. It’s been just me for so long, and employing a team now is mind blowing.

This summer, the brand will participate in several tours and festivals, including Sad Summer and part of the Danny Wimmer Presents festivals like Inkcarceration. How did these opportunities arise?

Someone who worked for Danny Wimmer presents contacted me to ask if I would be interested in working with the Replica Festival in Sacramento. I signed up to be a sponsor, and in 2021, I did the festival. Not only did it feel good to be at festivals and shows again after the pandemic, but [it] also gave me a taste of what it’s like to be on the road with your brand. I love music, and besides witchcraft, it’s such a big influence on everything I do. I feel like this is a space for me where it’s important to be a female-owned brand in the rock community. With sad summer festivalit reminds me of that Distorted tour crowd. It’s going to be crazy, because me and the team have never been on the road for so long.

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With music being such an important part of your life, which artists inspired you growing up?

i am huge Anberlin fan, and I will go see them live at all costs; it was my high school band. When it comes to rock, I’m more of an old school girl. I grew up on everything Metallic at black sabbath, and my parents also had good musical taste. From there I evolved to love many doommetal and heavy metal. I am currently working on some witchcraft themed doom metal posters which should be coming very soon.

What are your dreams for the brand’s next destination?

I would love to work on sponsoring a tour where I can be a presenter up to having my own stage at a festival. I would also like to open a physical store in Portland, Oregon. I dream of having a store with a café, a bar and a stage so that we can put on our own shows. I want to conquer the rock festival scene and be known as the brand of girl witch rock.


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