Then read about her upcoming partnership with Target
CM: How did the idea for Sèchey evolve?
EH: During the pandemic, I started examining my personal relationship with alcohol. I was shopping online and looking for alternatives and found all these amazing nonalcoholic drinks, and then a light bulb went off. There was no one place to get these brands. That’s where the idea was born. But I wasn’t ready to fully give up my relationship with alcohol, so while sècher means “dry” in French, Sèchey [refers to] “dryish,” for those who have a flexible relationship with alcohol.
CM: How do you determine what goes in your store?
EH: I opened the business over two years ago, but I started tasting almost three years ago. I sample different beverages, I get recommendations from customers. I’m pretty much at capacity for new brands. If something gets on my shelves, it’s had a personal taste test, it’s been taste-tested with a team, and then we see if it sells.
CM: Tell us about your Target deal.
EH: My initial vision was to bring alcohol-free alternatives to a broader population by opening more stores, but that’s very capital-intensive. This is a store-within-a-store concept at Target with an assortment for shoppers curated by Sèchey. Our partnership allows us to bring our favorite brands to neighborhoods all over the country. The goal is to have it in every Target store by the end of 2024.
CM: Do you have partnerships with any bars or restaurants?
EH: With the Target project, we’ll be launching a Sèchey private label from one of the top European wineries that specializes in de-alcoholization. [After] that, we will start thinking locally. We’re already having conversations with some places, and I would love to do a Sèchey cocktail menu with a partner that has multiple locations.
CM: Do you see an increase in non-alcoholic beverage sales?
EH: Yes, we see a demand. We know there are more customers who want to bring an alternative to their bar carts. It’s not about sobriety, it’s about hosting a party with lots of options for people who don’t drink. Plus, you may not have a big hangover the next day. We call it “Sèchey-ing.”
CM: With Dry January, do you think a lot of people are making resolutions to drink less?
EH: They are. Dry January is an easier way to explain why you aren’t drinking if you’re worried about stigma. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Just be kinder to yourself and start to add some alternatives. I’m not here to judge. I’m offering options so you can have something besides alcohol if you feel like celebrating.
CM: What’s on tap next?
EH: We’re expanding our assortment of alcohol-free beverages, and we’d like to open other locations in a franchise model. Our growth is about a cultural shift in that we are drinking less and examining our relationship with alcohol as a society.
WEB EXTRA - Sober Curious? For more on Emily Heintz, check out the Hidden F&B podcast coming January 31 at charlestongrit.com.