Coffee & Stationery
Periwink brings drinks, cards, and women-owned support
In December 2021, THERESA STEVENS (pictured left) and MARIAH FINEGAN (right) launched their passion project Periwink, a stationery, coffee, and gift shop, located in the Grandview Shopping Center in Wilmington which focuses on sourcing from female-owned businesses. This unlikely combination of fresh beans, conversation and cards has roots that go back years.
In 2012, Stevens, a massage therapist, opened Coastal Massage & Bodywork in Wilmington. She posted on Craigslist looking for other massage therapists interested in renting one of the three rooms in her casually intimate day spa. Finegan responded. By 2018, the two entrepreneurs grew the spa into a 3000-square-foot oasis, Coastal Massage & Spa. Located at Grandview Luxury Apartments, the spa includes nine treatment rooms, relaxation room, steam room, sauna, locker rooms and a bridal suite.
Finegan, originally from Edinboro, Pennsylvania, recalls, “ My mother always told me not to rely on a man for money. As simple as that is, it stuck with me. I never thought of owning my own business, but being open to new experiences led me to where I am today.”
Entrepreneurship came naturally to Stevens. From selling fresh veggies from her childhood farm in Hope, Maine, to helping her dad sell things on eBay, she knew she had to work hard to get what she wanted in life. Stevens says, “I’m not afraid of hard work.”
Finegan’s favorite job during college at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York was working at the local coffee shop. She enjoyed the fast-paced environment and using her creativity to concoct drinks that made people happy. When Stevens approached Finegan with the idea to open a stationery shop, Finegan proposed adding coffee to the mix to help bring in people in because “people love coffee shops!”
Periwink, named for the color of Steven’s periwinkle jeep when she was fifteen, serves classic coffees, specialty drinks, and tea lattes. The coffee is sourced from local female roaster KALDI. The espresso, cafe Feminino, is sourced from beans grown by South American female farmers who are paid directly for their beans. Mariah notes, “This helps to ensure the sustainability of coffee families and communities.”
The cards, stickers, notebooks, planners, candles, wrapping paper, jewelry, and other cafe items are sourced from women-owned vendors carefully selected by Stevens. Finegan says, “Although women have come a long way, we are still considered a minority in the business world. Supporting other women is important.” A bit of a shopping addict, Stevens looks for vendors in North Carolina and vendors connected to University of North Carolina Wilmington. The items are small-batched and mostly made in the United States. “We love watching customers browse our cards, see their reactions and hear their laughter.”
Stevens and Finegan run two very different businesses. “From soft spa voices to blasting Spice Girls in the bougie, sassy coffee shop, we definitely have two different environments,” Stevens says. Finegan adds, “With our calming colors at the spa, to loud periwinkle floors at the coffee shop, we keep the two businesses separate.”
Sort of. Periwink is three suites down from the spa. About 20 to 50 clients a day visit the spa who become a steady stream of patrons into Periwink. “Cross-promotion is very easy,” Finegan explains. Everyone who comes in for services at the spa gets a coupon to Periwink. And Periwink customers get $25 to the spa when they spend $100.
Stevens’ other passion is hosting events. She says, “I use any excuse to do so! We just celebrated Galentine’s day. It was an incredible success.” The fifty guests enjoyed a signature drink, tarot and oracle readings, fairy hair, a boudoir lingerie pop-up, and a scrap booking station. Everyone took home a swag bag.
Their staff, each who brings different strengths and interests, is incredibly important to them. Periwink, managed by Stevens’ sister FAITH BRUCE, employs three baristas. The spa employs over 50. “We pay our employees a livable wage, far more than what business consultants have told us to do, but it’s important to us that our employees can make a living, even if it comes out of our own pockets.”
As they created Periwink, the ladies sensed they had something special. Stevens says, “Being a business owner is hard. The everyday struggles of being a woman in business is harder. Everything we have done has been with our own money. And hard work.” Finegan adds, “We would love to help other women entrepreneurs open their own little Periwink. We made everything duplicable and we would be there every step of the way.”
Looking toward the future, Stevens concludes, “We want to have our own line of stationery and cards. With our creative sense of humor and Mariah’s incredible talent as a graphic designer, it is definitely in our near future.”
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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