July 25, 2020 by Mona K. Pohl on behalf of the Hingham Downtown Association. Photos of kloTH and fig.a provided by Lynn Barclay, executive director.
A two-Week Series on Hingham Downtown Association Businesses
Downtown Hingham, with its picturesque streetscape and proximity to the harbor, is a dream location for the entrepreneurs who took the leap to start from scratch and build their businesses to serve this vibrant local community. Hingham’s downtown can be considered a small business incubator, of sorts. Untethered from the mandates of large corporations and franchises, the business owners remain true to their passions and unique brands and tailor their offerings to the evolving needs – and often requests -- of local customers and clients. More than ever, this time of COVID has challenged each business to quickly and creatively pivot their business models and practices so they could remain relevant and stay afloat.
With the support of the Hingham Downtown Association (HDA), fellow owners and most important, the community, many continue to ride this crazy wave of unpredictability and consistently deliver a much-needed respite from the day-to-day with some fun, pleasure and comfort, along with necessities. From the sidewalk sales launching this weekend to al fresco dining, Downtown is working hard and succeeding to bring a refreshing blend of a laidback and cosmopolitan vibe.
Some of the business owners were generous in sharing their interesting stories about how and why they launched, why they selected Hingham, and what they have been doing to survive and thrive during this time. Individually and collectively, they are an inspiring example of commitment to their passions and this community. Over the next couple of weeks, enjoy getting to know the HDA members a little better.
It’s the long-anticipated sidewalk sale time in Downtown and there are treasures to be found all over town, so let’s kick this off with retailers Fig. a and kloTH. It’s likely your mood will be boosted and you’ll get lost in that feeling of normal for a little while when you peruse the sidewalk sale racks and score a fresh new something to toss on for a run, yoga, your next backyard barbeque, zoom meet-up, or literally a night out at one of our great restaurants in town.
A relative newcomer to Downtown Hingham, fig.a, owned by Aja Amontea, is a wellness lifestyle boutique with a focus on mindfulness and movement. In business for almost a year at 102 North Street, fig. a carries a variety of well curated brands including Varley, Emerson Fry, Frank & Eileen. An exploration for the senses, customers can wander from selecting a must-have lip balm, beauty oil or body wash, luxurious, washable silk pajamas and jewelry that adds just the right accent to whatever you’re wearing, to the ideal tank and leggings for yoga or a run and a cozy pair of joggers and sweatshirts along with inspirationally themed socks.
When asked about why she selected downtown Hingham for fig.a, Aja explained, “I wanted my shop to be in a thriving downtown close to home. It’s exciting to be supported by an engaged community, especially at this moment. I look forward to watching the community and business owners continue to band together.”
Certainly not anticipating a pandemic that brought the world as we know it to a halt, she had to accelerate the development of aspects of her new business that weren’t originally crucial, while keeping her customers engaged.
“The biggest struggle was and continues to be dealing with the anxiety of the unknown and worrying whether family or friends will get sick. Second to that, was the stress of getting my ecommerce site up and running while taking care of my children.” Aja credits her husband -- who also owns a business -- family, friends, and loyal customers who wanted to support local and help her business to survive for making this situation a little easier to navigate.
“I will continue to develop my ecommerce. However, the brick-and-mortar will always be my main priority. Having a space to engage face-to-face was a driving force behind opening in the first place. Hosting intimate wellness-centered events is central to fig.a and I hope to be able to resume them in some manner in the future.”
kloTH, located at 28 South Street, across from Hingham Greenery, is a tasteful collection of modern casual, fun, and unique clothing, accessories and shoes that can be dressed up or down from sought-after brands such as Xirena, MOTHER, Sundry, Veronica, Beard, and IRO.
Owner Katia Orth, formerly a buyer for Prada and Bergdorf Goodman in New York (she also holds an MBA from Columbia), has been in business for four years in Downtown. “I thought about opening a store for quite a while. I never considered anything but downtown because of its charm, and there was a need for a store like mine. One day, I walked by a ‘For Rent’ sign and I paused and thought, maybe now is the time. Downtown has a family feel, like there’s a heart. Also, I think our community appreciates our town thriving and supporting local.”
The uncertainty of these times presents a challenge to all businesses right now, and many would echo Katia’s point, “Every decision feels like a big deal. Not knowing how long, when, what’s next—everything—not just for the store, but for our kids, for our community, our country…” With that said, kloTH has skillfully met the challenges of doing business during COVID by communicating regularly with customers, staying on top of social media and DM’ing often. “We stayed in touch with our customers, and they were happy to hear from us and see our posts. We stayed open and relevant in their eyes, even though our doors were closed. And now it has been fun to [actually] see all the customers we were “talking” to through those platforms.”
“In general, I love our community and customers. Their positivity and encouragement kept us going.”