When we first decided to move to San Antonio in July of 2019 I immediately started searching for local markets and boutiques that I could visit once we moved here. Supporting small businesses has always been a passion of mine, and I’m friends with several small business owners in my hometown (Peoria, Illinois). I knew this would be the perfect way for me to start meeting friends in a new city.
One of the first shops I started following on Instagram last summer was Thaïs Ann Boutique, owned and operated by Thais (pronounced ty-ees) Peacher herself. Since then, I’ve purchased several pairs of earrings and a navy-blue top from her boutique. Everything I’ve gotten has been excellent quality and has a unique design. When your packages get delivered, they always include a hand-written note from Thais. Having the opportunity to interview her and hear the backstory of her business has been such a joy!
Thais shared a post shortly after COVID hit in March that struck a chord with me. Quarantine was in full swing and small businesses across the country were already showing signs of struggle. In regards to why she was continuing to post pictures of clothing and jewelry amidst a global pandemic, she said:
“I started this business four and a half years ago. I did this after having worked through high school and college to help put myself through school. After earning an undergraduate and graduate degree in business. After working in the oil and gas industry for 15 years. After starting over and working for a corporate retail company that told me I wasn’t extroverted enough to excel in the industry. After coming home to Texas and leaving two jobs that brought me to tears daily because of how much I hated them. This small business is my dream; what I believe I was created to do. I do it because when you buy that new pair of earrings and pose for a picture, that smile on your face is confirmation that I’m in the right place.”– Thais Peacher
Reading her words caused an emotional reaction for me. THIS is why I love to Shop Small. Every small business has a real person with a real dream and a real family who needs support. I grew up in a city of 125,000 people, briefly lived in a small town of 2,000, and now I live in the 7th largest city in the country. Every place I’ve lived has small businesses, and the small businesses are where I’ve always been able to find “my people”. They are the people who have allowed themselves to honor two passions at the same time: to be personally successful and community-centered. Thais is no exception to these traits, and her kindness and business-savvy shined through her entire interview.
Thaïs Ann Boutique is an online- and pop-up boutique that features jewelry, clothing, and accessories. She does pop-ups all over San Antonio and has even taken her shop on the road several times when her husband was traveling for his job. Last weekend she was at St. Paul’s Square, this coming weekend she’ll be at West Elm, and she often frequents Brick at Blue Star for their “Sundays at Brick” events. When you visit her booth, you’ll find her subtle but straightforward signage, her tables meticulously arranged with products, and she is there ready to answer any questions you might have about any of her items. What you won’t see are the hours upon hours she spends behind the scenes making sure each event she attends runs smoothly.
There are heavy bins she must lug back and forth to her vehicle to set up and tear down each event. There are photo shoots to plan for each new wave of items that get launched on her website, which includes planning backdrops, models, and color schemes. There is even a surprising amount of research that goes into choosing every piece before ordering it because she wants to ensure that her clients are getting top-quality products. She makes sure that she personally knows exactly what each item is made of, how to care for it, and how to pair it with other items.
She also knows when to admit that she has made a mistake and she works diligently to correct it. There was a customer who visited her booth and explained that she had severe allergies to several types of metal, and Thais carefully helped her select a necklace that she believed did not contain any of the allergens. Once the customer checked out and had moved on to other shops, Thais felt a pull to double check herself and pulled up the specs on that necklace. As soon as Thais realized she had been mistaken, she worked diligently to reach the customer. She ended up finding her on social media, messaged her and allowed her to return the item for a full refund.
When she finished telling me this story, my jaw was almost on the ground and I thought, “Man that’s not the type of service you’ll get at Target!” (Don’t get me wrong- your girl loves a Target run- but when it comes to individualized service, they just simply don’t compare.)
This is truly what sets this boutique apart from others: Thais is incredibly committed to helping other women feel confident and comforted in their purchases, and cares deeply about maintaining her reputation as an honest business owner with complete integrity. She is loyal to her customers and is always willing to learn from them.
When I was a teacher I was almost discouraged from having a large online presence. Keeping all of my accounts private was a way to protect myself from prying students and community members. Now that I’ve changed careers and am being encouraged to create a large following on my business account, I am really struggling with how to consistently maintain my social media presence without feeling inauthentic or pushy. I also still want to be able to detach from my devices and spend quality time with my family when I need to. When I asked Thais to describe an aspect of running her own boutique that she didn’t anticipate when she started, I was surprised to learn that she struggled with these same concepts.
“I love doing my pop-ups, but learning how to push Online Sales more and more has been a challenge.”Thais Peacher
She described similar situations that I’ve experienced, like having to ensure that you’re always on top of the feeds and are staying relevant so that people don’t “forget” about you and your business. Trying to come up with fun content and cute snapshots while working from home is a whole new level of creativity that she isn’t quite used to yet (I don’t think any of us are!). Luckily, she has two sisters and a husband who are usually willing to jump in and help in any way they can. Her sisters have both modeled for her, and her husband helps load and unload the car for many events.
She’s also part of a group called The Boutique Hub that has provided her with some tools and strategies to strengthen the digital aspect of her business. They are a community of boutiques that provides support to boutique owners by providing education, business tips, and virtual platforms for selling products, among other services. Being part of this group has helped her find footing in a post-COVID world where shopping online is the new normal. If you’d like to help support her online business, she says it’s simple:
“Keep shopping online! Keep commenting, liking, and sharing on social media. Post photos of yourself in the jewelry and the clothes, I love seeing your smiles!”Thais Peacher
Recognizing that she is incredibly lucky to have her support system in place so that she can continue to pursue this dream, Thais has always looked for opportunities to give back to her community. She has donated some of her products to auctions that are raising money for charities, she has participated in several events, and she has made direct monetary donations to others. Heading into the holiday season I know there will be many opportunities for all of us to donate or volunteer for various organizations and it can sometimes feel overwhelming to take on that extra pressure while you’re shopping for gifts for your own family. But Thais pointed out that the amount of money or time that you give shouldn’t be compared to what someone else gives, it should only be compared to what you have been given.
“I always try to do what I can, even if it feels like it’s not very much, I know that doing what I can do is better than not doing anything.”Thais Peacher
What an excellent reminder that comparison is the thief of joy.
You can follow Thais on Instagram @thaisann or shop her site at thaisann.com. When you make a purchase don’t forget to post a photo with the hashtag #uniquelythaisann