When you step into Kaity Cimo and Katharine ReQua’s For Now store on Seaport Boulevard in the Seaport District of Boston, it’s hard to know where to look first.
By the window, there’s a display of Sh*t That I Knit’s famously fluffy knit hats. Against the wall, there’s a row of butter-soft men’s yellow leather gloves by Harvey Traveler. On the wall is a selection of canvas paintings by local painter Ashley Provencher.
Launched by in 2017, For Now creates a space where all of these varied, small maker brands can live and thrive together. It’s a concept with which these two businesswomen launched their whole new kind of shopping experience.
Cimo and ReQua are retail connoisseurs. As veterans of the industry, the duo understands the good and the bad, which is what inspired them to disrupt the traditional retail model.
“We saw the challenges that emerging brands face when it comes to retail,” says Cimo. “They need [a retail presence] to complement their digital stores, but access to retail is pretty much impossible for small brands. Real estate prices alone are a nonstarter.”
For Now breaks down those barriers by acting as a co-retail incubator.
Here’s how it works.
Each brand pays a flat monthly fee, which pays for the nuts and bolts of running a business.
Cimo, ReQua and their team take care of managing the space, telling the brands’ stories and selling merchandise.
Then they take a commission on each sale. This way, the brands get the benefit of a physical retail presence, and Cimo and ReQua get the benefit of a diverse and ever-changing stock of unique, small-maker items.
Many Massachusetts brands are present, but ReQua says the model is even more beneficial for out-of-state brands, because they’re physically getting in front of a Boston audience and allowing Cimo and ReQua to act as regional translators to pitch the products to the New England shopper.
Products on display in the store rotate every few months on a staggered schedule so there’s always something new for shoppers to look at.
Though physical retail gets a lot of flak, ReQua and Cimo believe there’s a lot to be gained from a live shopping experience.
ReQua recalls how one of their employees was helping a man buy a gift for his wife. While showing him Mary Bret jewelry, she noted that the designer creates each piece based on a travel destination and pointed out a piece inspired by Morocco. The shopper had just been to Morocco with his wife, and Bret’s earrings were a perfect reminder. “For any brand in the store,” says ReQua, “we can highlight something that resonates with the individual.”
Starting a business is always a gamble, and ReQua and Cimo have dedicated many late nights making ends meet.
It seems all that hard work is paying off. In 2018 alone, For Now worked with 90 brands, many of which have come away from the collaboration with tangible steps to improving sales and brand awareness.
“We definitely want to grow the business. We think the demand is there from both consumers and brands to have additional locations,” says ReQua. “We also want to be able to support brands more effectively.” That would mean even more company benefits like branding exercises, operational efficiency programs and other support.
Despite economic ebb and flow and product learning curves, this dynamic duo is moving forward with more power than ever.
“The challenges we’ve had have really made us more focused and better,” says Cimo. “Now we’re thinking about our growth and where we want to go next.”
And if the journey requires sporting a cozy Dudley Stevens sweater, what can a business owner do?