Whether you are seeking a unique piece of clothing or a playful Rochester-themed gift (we adore their But First, Weggies! T-shirt), Peppermint is outfitted with beautiful apparel mixed in with some elements designed to inspire and surprise.
Originally from India, boutique owner Tanvi Asher moved to the United States in 2000, attended Buffalo State College and went on to earn her master’s degree in industrial design at Rochester Institute of Technology. In 2011, she opened Peppermint – what she describes as a quirky vintage women’s boutique that the hip Park Avenue neighborhood needed. At the time, the shop was located on Meigs Street, and she opened with just 40 pieces of clothing in 480 square feet storefront, while she worked on designs and creations in a back studio.
In 2016, Peppermint nearly tripled its space when it moved to the Culver Road Armory. The convenient location is just off the highway and includes a 400-car parking lot and several shops and restaurants. The complex allows visitors to start their day with a cup of coffee, shopping, exercise, and then wrap up the evening with a cocktail! In addition to featuring her label at the store, Asher also offers pieces from other designers. And if you’re not looking for clothing, there’s 300-square-feet on the upper level dedicated to Rochester-themed creations that range from jewelry and t-shirts to art prints, mugs and coasters. It was important to Asher to offer options made by local artisans (some exclusive to the store) that speak to the spirit of Rochester. Today, the Peppermint line is manufactured and sold to other stores, including a customer base in the South.
Asher expanded her businesses in 2018, when she opened Salty, a boutique with a more youthful vibe that is situated where she first started her designs, in the Park Avenue neighborhood. In addition to affordable clothing, shoppers will also find vintage stemware, unique European home lines, cocktail and baking books, and even house plants.
“As a person who has done this for 10 years, you can’t forget that you age and so does your store. You can’t forget where you started,” said Asher. “The Park Ave store is so youthful and fun, and I wanted to differentiate it from Peppermint.”
We recently met up with Asher to learn more her fashion journey and why she’s so passionate about Rochester.
Who shops at Peppermint?
We get everybody. From young professionals to guests shopping for a wedding – they are all essentially looking for a high-quality unique piece they can’t find anywhere else. It’s someone who embodies the “shop local” spirit – from buying their coffee next door at Village Bakery to relaxing during an infrared sauna therapy session at Lumos or working out with the local health-conscious business SPOKE Cycle + Fitness Studio.
How do you stand out from other stores in the area?
In 2017, I started a boutique fashion truck on wheels, so if you can’t come to the store, I’ll come to you. We can go to places where people don’t have access to fashion, and we go to a lot of remote areas, wine festivals, and pop ups at different salons. It’s really cute and what makes it stand out is that is it an extension of the store. We also have certain brands that other stores don’t have and it’s one of the more affordable boutiques in our town with a little bit of that kitschy factor to it.
How did you choose the name Peppermint for your business?
My grandmother used to wear peppermint oil and she’s the one who taught me a lot about fashion. She used to do micro beading for her Hindu deities. I always watched her and when I got close to her all I would smell was the Peppermint oil. It also stands out because peppermint is fresh and exciting.
What inspires you?
I find inspiration very much in the people of Rochester and the climate. People are so supportive and caring and there is a certain draw to our locality that I love. My husband and I also love hiking with our dog. Through the pandemic, we completed almost 76 hikes all throughout our beautiful state, and a lot of times the landscapes and colors really inspire me. Travel also inspires me and it’s always nice to get that perspective from abroad.
How do you stay up to date with trends?
The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure you understand the political climate. A lot of people may not realize that if you have a democrat in office, the fashions tend to be more preppy and very conservative. When there is a republican in office, you tend to have fashions that are a little wilder, hippie and rebellious. It’s important to realize what’s going on around you, politically. I am always looking at fashion shows and what’s going on the runway also trickles down.
Your website notes that you love social media – can you elaborate on this?
As a person who is very visual, to me, there’s nothing more powerful than an image. To be able to show customers how they can wear clothing in multiple ways or how they can accessorize it is amazing, and anyone can see that. I like how fast you can reach people; you don’t have to wait to do a launch or a pop up, you can do live sales…all these things I genuinely enjoy.
What are some challenges you have faced as a small business owner?
In terms of fashion, I think the most difficult part as a business owner in Rochester is what you can showcase in this town. The pandemic also put a lot on our plates as business owners – as far as keeping and retaining employees, supply chain issues, getting ahold of vendors, and finding the balance with the cost of goods increasing.