SOMERSET, Pa. – Crystal Pepper’s Kindred Soul shop offers trendy, urban, artist apparel with vintage accents.
Kindred Soul Apparel – open since July 2021 – has expanded this summer into the sale of “upcycled” clothing.
Upcycling refers to the process of transforming discarded or unwanted products into new materials or products that would be perceived to be of greater quality – with artistic or environmental value.
“Trying to incorporate the use of upcycled clothing into the store has been important to me,” Pepper said. “Our vintage apparel line is all upcycled clothing and same thing with the brand Myra, which are bags we sell recycled from military canvas.”
After graduating from Somerset Area High School, Pepper became a registered nurse and worked at Somerset Hospital for seven years.
Throughout that time, she met her future husband, Howard Pepper, and the two moved into a house in the Friedens area.
“I then started a travel agency, working as a nurse for some time, until I decided that all my energy needed to be spent in the most appropriate spot, which was here with my family and businesses,” Crystal Pepper said.
In November 2020, Howard Pepper opened a tattoo parlor, called VI Straight Tattoo, on North Center Avenue in Somerset.
“It all started with my husband who wanted to grow as an artist and open his own tattoo shop,” Pepper said.
“I noticed the lack of places to shop for more trendy apparel, a little more of bohemian vibes and vintage,” she said.
“I wanted to be able to bring high-quality products, but without the crazy high prices, like how most boutiques are.”
Adding a spa
Kindred Soul has nine employees who help to run the clothing apparel store.
Josi Dirienzo, a junior at Somerset Area High School, has worked at the shop since its opening.
“My boss is really good at what she does,” Dirienzo said.
“She helps to inspire me to be passionate about my own future endeavors.”
In addition to the clothing store and tattoo parlor shop, Pepper has also incorporated her skills and degree as a nurse into an additional business to the plaza.
“After having all of these businesses here and being in charge of managing them, I wanted to bring my nursing degree into this as well so that I could be present with the businesses,” Pepper said.
“That is where I introduced the idea of Somerset Laser Spa.”
Somerset Laser Spa focuses on hair and spider vein removal through the use of a medical-grade diode laser.
“Eventually, Somerset Laser will be able to incorporate and use more of my degree,” Pepper said.
“As I add more services, it will continue to grow.”
Employee Kaydee Bruner, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, has been working for Pepper since November.
“I really enjoy coming to work, as we have grown to be like our own little family within each of the businesses,” Bruner said. “I really look up to Crystal as a role model who has been passionate about her businesses.”