Amid the hustle and bustle of a redeveloping Regency, an upcoming coffee-and-tea shop sees opportunity inside the remade mall.
D’Haiti Wellness plans to open a retail location in the West End shopping center in April.
The store will be the next evolution of owner Bertette Lewis’s D’Haiti Wellness brand, which she launched in 2019 and currently operates online offering virtual yoga, fitness classes, mediation and other services.
Lewis said that once the shop opens, the retail operation will be the focus of the brand’s efforts for the foreseeable future.
Lewis likened her concept to Teavana before its parent company Starbucks, which bought it in 2012, shut down all of Teavana’s physical stores in 2018.
Her shop will offer coffee imported from Haiti as well as house-made teas aimed at soothing anxiety and other ailments.
The teas, which have already been a component of the D’Haiti Wellness brand, are purchased wholesale and jazzed up with herbs and other ingredients that Lewis adds in herself, and will be sold both loose-leaf and bagged.
“I wanted to find ways to help (Haitian coffee growers) as well, so I purchased all my coffee from local farmers down there,” Lewis said, adding that her fiancé and business partner is Haitian.
The store will also sell CBD honey, clothing, mugs and rock sugar among other things. Lewis said that items in the shop will generally range between $5 to $25.
Though the 1,000-square-foot shop is largely a retail concept, Lewis also envisions it as a place where people can relax. The shop will serve samples of its pre-packaged coffees and teas, and hold regular self-guided meditation sessions.
Lewis specifically wanted to set up in Regency to provide a quiet space for shoppers and parents who bring their kids to play at the mall. She noted the store will be a few feet away from Surge Adventure Park, a new indoor trampoline park in the former Macy’s North space.
“I wanted to create a place where people can pause and reflect,” she said. “We’re creating an atmosphere where you’re cutting off the switch rather than cutting on the switch.”
Lewis, who also works as a behavioral health counselor, said she was inspired to start D’Haiti Wellness by her own struggles with mental health, such as a trying childhood in New York City’s foster care system. She moved to Richmond in 2006.
Lewis said the coronavirus pandemic, though a hurdle to the shop’s launch, also served as an inspiration. She said that while for some people, home was a refuge from the pandemic, other people found themselves unable to find an escape from difficult home situations due to stay-at-home orders.
“It’s a very scary decision but it’s a faith walk for me. I really feel in my heart that I want to help people,” she said of the store. “It’s about being there for other people. Not everybody found home to be a safe haven.”
D’Haiti Wellness is one of several new or upcoming concepts at Regency, where owners Rebkee Co. and Thalhimer Realty Partners are in the midst of a revitalization project to turn the mall into a mixed-use development.
Caribbean-inspired taco restaurant Sloop John B and pizza place In The Sauce, both helmed by former Home Team Grill owner Garland Taylor, plan to open this year at the redesigned Quioccasin Road-side mall entrance. New-to-market YogaSix opened at the mall in January.