“Fall Fridays” helps small businesses flourish


“Fall Fridays” creates a welcome environment for small business owners to display their work.

Eager hands rifle through embroidered sweatshirts and blouses. Inspired patrons inspect rare-looking jewelry, excitedly chatting up its maker. Notes of seasonal drinks dance throughout the coffee shop. People laugh, shop and toast to one another.

Some small business owners showcase their clothing at “Fall Fridays.” (RAVIN BHATIA/SAGAMORE STAFF)

These are commonplace at Brothers and Sisters Co., a small café in the heart of Brookline Village, during one of their biweekly “Fall Fridays.” During these events, owners of local small businesses arrange booths inside the café and converse with customers interested in buying their products, creating a sense of community between those on both sides of the transaction.

There have been three “Fall Fridays” so far, each under the leadership of Christine Schumann, who works in marketing for Brothers and Sisters Co. Schumann said that her desire to create a program that promoted small businesses stemmed from her lived experiences as the owner of her own clothing brand.

“I wished, when I started, to have little places to sell products—and not just big markets that cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars to enter,” Schumann said. “It’s a good place for people who are starting their small businesses.”

Schumann also said that her parents owning their own business while she was growing up had an impact on her outlook on helping small businesses.

“My parents are immigrants. They owned a nail salon, and I think there’s something about supporting local businesses and seeing an actual return on that and seeing your community thrive on that,” Schumann said.

Alexandria Pellegrino is the owner of And Elise, a jewelry business that has been featured at each of the three “Fall Fridays.”

“I stopped creating for a while because I didn’t like the social media aspect of promoting my business. But ‘Fall Fridays’ has given me a chance to create and sell directly to people, and it’s been great seeing people pick up my stuff, wear it and bring it home and enjoy it,” Pellegrino said.

Schumann recalled an experience in which a local business in Knoxville, Tennessee, her hometown, used its popularity to benefit small businesses like hers.

“A local coffee shop had an outdoor event during the summer in their parking lot and that really helped my business grow,” Schumann said. “It was great because it was a coffee shop that people knew and trusted, so when they started doing this event, people said, ‘Okay. I trust you and I trust that these small businesses that you back are something I want to back.’”

Zoe Schefler, a former Brookline resident who now lives in Jamaica Plains, said that “Fall Fridays” has allowed her to support small businesses and form relationships with those living near her.

“Without ‘Fall Fridays,’ I would have never gotten to know the small business owners and never would have supported them,” Schefler said. “It’s like we’re building a community web. We’re so used to connecting with people who are across the world, but what about the people right outside our doors?”

Stefanie Schefler, Zoe’s sister and a frequent customer of Brothers and Sisters Co., said that “Fall Fridays” has allowed her to fulfill her love of meeting new people in a quite distinct way.

“It’s hard to meet people these days, so it’s nice to go somewhere low-key and chill that isn’t a bar, where you can mingle around and see the art people make,” Stefanie Schefler said. “It’s very inspiring and it’s just so nice to see a place that really interacts with the community nearby. I’ll definitely be coming back.”