By Katie Fenton
When Bruna Tembelis had to cancel the opening of his shop, AquaBrasil Boutique, due to the coronavirus pandemic, he had to find new ways to succeed as a new local business.
“I’m ready to open in April and then the pandemic starts, so I can’t even open the door,” Tembelis said. “So, what I need to do is start with Facebook Live and really get out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t something I liked at first, but I did what I had to do. “
While the business, which Tembelis describes as a lifestyle boutique and gift shop, has found success through a virtual platform, the Glen Head store was finally opened for customers in June. There and online, customers can buy jewelry, women’s and children’s clothing, accessories, and more.
Working with American and international brands, Tembelis said that many of the store’s products stand out because they are handmade, biodegradable, and ethically made. While boutique specialties are clothing and jewelery, the supplies are diverse, displaying other products such as natural candles and soaps too.
This boutique was recently featured as “Business of the Month” on North Shore Biz Network for July. Deborah Orgel-Gordon, president of the North Coast Biz Network, said the store was a valuable addition to the local business world of Glen Head.
“I don’t think we have a place in the community to sell products for children, so it’s really interesting,” Orgel-Gordon said. “I have many granddaughters and nieces, so I always look for children’s products.
Orgel-Gordon added that AquaBrasil also has women’s products. He said there were not many local women’s clothing stores in the area, something he said the community had lost.
Tembelis said the name of the boutique was inspired by its roots in Brazil and its favorite crystal, aquamarine. He said his commitment to opening his own business began with making and selling fine Brazilian jewelry, and that original passion remained important to him. In addition to products from various brands, he sells his own line of semiprecious crystal bracelets, with each crystal representing different healing properties.
Working in both the medical and real estate fields after moving from Brazil to Queens 15 years ago, Tembelis said his desire to make jewelry grew as a side business for years. Now, living in Glen Cove with her husband and two daughters, she has been able to develop that business side further.
“I’ve always loved the North Coast, and I like being close to the water,” Tembelis said. “I like this area, and people welcome me with open arms. I’ve been here seven days a week – basically I live here. But that doesn’t feel like work. This is what I like. “
When the building in Glen Head which he now operates is available in January, Tembelis said he quickly worked to open his shop there. Although the plan was changed by the pandemic, Orgel-Gordon said that having to prioritize the online presence of the store could benefit AquaBrasil.
“Most businesses that started this year have to create websites and learn to sell their products online,” Orgel-Gordon said. “Many small businesses have to resort to having a storefront and online store on their website to keep them going, because that’s the only way to compete with people who usually order online.”
“So in a positive way,” added Orgel-Gordon, “I think even though it might be very busy and frightening and frightening, it encourages him and other businesses in our community who don’t yet have an online site to arrange it all immediately.”
Although the pandemic is still creating new businesses like AquaBrasil Boutique not getting traditional publicity such as cutting ribbons, success can still be achieved, said Steve Warshaw, president of the Gold Coast Business Association. He said people are worried about going to new places, something he thinks business owners need to consider. It will take some time before the normal comfort level among consumers enters, he said, so online can be very important in the survival of new businesses.
“As far as places like AquaBrasil, they just need to maintain an online presence and get their name there and advertise,” Warshaw said. “It’s hard for a new business now, but once people know who you are in this environment, then you have followers.”