Meeting the Challenge
In this episode of KENS 5’s Commerce Street podcast, hear from two Pearl businesses who have met the challenges brought on by the pandemic with creativity and innovation. Ayse Derman, Creative Director at Niche, and Edward Casey, Manager and Beverage Leader at High Street Wine Company, discuss how they pivoted their businesses in the wake of COVID restrictions to better serve their customers safely and creatively.
Derman and her mother, designer Nilgun Derman, launched the Niche brand 25 years ago and in 2014, opened their flagship boutique at Pearl, which carries their modern, San Antonio-made apparel along with accessories, home décor, and gifts. Like retailers everywhere, Niche has faced unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic. When forced to close its doors, Niche quickly sprang into action making functional and fashionable face masks that sold out immediately. Later, they leaned into another growing market—sewing and crafting—by launching The Stitch at Niche, a curated fabric shop and project space.
High Street Wine Co. dealt with its own set of challenges last year, as bars were faced with multiple closures and tough restrictions. Since its opening in 2016, High Street has placed an emphasis on hospitality. No longer able to serve customers in person at their wine bar, they also quickly pivoted and moved to an online-only retail platform, offering wine packs, food-to-go, and hugely popular online wine classes. They also launched their nonprofit labor program, which allows a portion of purchases to pay employees to work at local nonprofit organizations instead of the empty bar—helping their staff as well as the community at large.