Movers, Makers & Shapers
Live, Work and Play: these hard-working professionals have cracked the code when it comes to building a business, a brand and a life others only dream about.
Who wouldn’t want to call The Cape and Islands home? But how do you get the dream of living here to intersect with the dream of building a business that embodies your passions? We found some individuals who have found success and built a life in a place that is at the center of their hearts. It is truly a question of which came first, like the chicken and the egg: Is it their love of the region that influences their success, or is it because following their passion allows them to call the Cape home?
Meet the 13 people we have identified as Movers, Makers and Shapers in 5 different business sectors. To a person, they have honed their skills, identified a unique product, and allowed everything that is wonderful about the region influence their efforts. The big question is, who benefits most, these savvy individuals or the rest of us who get to enjoy their ingenuity and hard work?
Meredith Hanson • Robert Kennedy • Molly J. Curley Farrow • Justin Labdon • Joseph Carr • Todd & Beth Marcus • Elizabeth & Alex Hitchcock • Kelly O’Connell & Greg Bilezikian • Tiffany Narbonne • Corey Quinn
Art from the Heart
Meredith Hanson’s love of place, people and pets is at the core of her charming renditions of life in a lovely place.
Text by Allyson Plessner
Anyone who has ever spent time on the Cape & Islands knows that there’s something intangible about the experience—an indescribable quality colored by two important things: untampered natural beauty and close-knit community. Being part of this region is almost akin to the feeling of keeping a secret; it’s a wink and a nod to your neighbor as you both look out at another mesmerizing sunset. It’s something that can’t quite be captured by words, but paint on the other hand…
“For the past 11 years, Nantucket has been my home and year-round source of artistic inspiration—from the incredible seascapes and landscapes to the local shops and festival weekends unique to this magical island,” says artist Meredith Hanson. To viewers of her work, it’s abundantly clear that Hanson has managed to capture that intangible spirit of the island and put to paint all the breathtaking, enchanting qualities of the region. “No two parts of the island are the same,” she says. “I feel like I’m part-artist, part-explorer.”
A few years back, Hanson’s watercolor rendition of a snowy Nantucket scene graced the cover of Cape Cod Life. Since then, Hanson has continued to collaborate with many creatives on Nantucket and beyond. As she travels to snow covered New England villages, or the busy streets of Boston, or south to the colorful world of Palm Beach, she says she always meets new people with a connection to Nantucket. She now splits her time living on-island and back on the mainland with one of those serendipitous new connections: her fiancé, Trevor. And, Hanson continues to credit much of her success to the roots she’s put down on Nantucket.
“I learned very quickly that to make it as a professional artist, I couldn’t spend every day in my studio painting…as much as I would love to!” she explains. “In order to paint Nantucket, I needed to take the time to experience it. I’ve been able to collaborate with many wonderful brands and equally wonderful people because I took the time and effort to invest in relationships with the community and the island itself.”
From hand painted dresses colored in hydrangea blue to imaginative watercolor calendars and notecards for Vineyard Vines, Hanson’s art is certainly not bound by the traditional constraints of a canvas. This year, she plans to expand upon her line of custom holiday baubles and create scenes that celebrate Nantucket year-round. “What inspires me the most are the stories from customers who share with me why they wanted a particular bauble,” she says, noting all the ways that Nantucket might be special to someone—from vacations to weddings. “I hope years from now, my artwork and products remind people of their ‘Happy Place.’”
“As a former equestrian, I literally learned the importance of getting back on one’s horse, no matter how challenging that might be,” says Hanson about creating art and continuing to connect with other art lovers through a pandemic. She credits social media with allowing her to share her creative process through what is essentially an online gallery. “I take great pride in capturing the magic of a collaboration from the beginning stages, starting with preliminary sketches, to painting moments in my studio, and finally to the actual product. I have fallen in love with the entire storytelling process from beginning to end.”
As Hanson’s favorite saying goes, “Never forget who took you to the dance.” For her, the magic of the region–that tantalizing secret—is in the Nantucket community she’s built. “The Nantucket community has supported me in so many ways,” she says, “and I will always be humbled by, and grateful to, the folks who helped me realize my dream to become a successful artist.”
Robert Kennedy and his art have been a staple of Cape Cod for 50 years; the artist has a way of merging the memories and moments that make up a lifetime.
Text by Rachel Walman
In his book “The Art of Travel”, British philosopher Alain de Botton mused, “If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest–in all its ardour and paradoxes–than our travels.” Whether you vacation on the Cape or are a year-round resident, there are some places that remain permanently stamped in your heart and memories, like an ink stain from a brightly colored postcard. For Robert Kennedy, these memories have been something he has brought to his craft over countless years of travel and artistry.
Kennedy was originally inspired doubly by Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” as well as artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a French artist who often sketched images of Parisians going about their daily lives in the late 1800s. During his college years, Kennedy took time to hitch-hike across the country with his roommate. From Providence to New Orleans to Santa Monica, Kennedy wandered and sketched, explored and painted. “I fancied myself an itinerant artist, traveling with a sketchbook and recording places. I did one bang up job doing that, mostly inside of bars and restaurants, because of the fascinating characters. I was drawn to places that had personalities that needed recording,” he says.
On Main St. in Hyannis sits his gallery, which has been open and operating since 1973–with a commemorative stamp inlaid in the pavement outside to prove it. “The gallery came first,” explains Kennedy; the shop on Main St. was established before he even owned a home here.
Capturing various scenic highlights of each Cape town, as well as many locales around America, Kennedy reminisces on his own time as a youth visiting Cape Cod: “We would come down to Falmouth; my friend had a cottage, so we would go to local bars, sleep on the beach–I’d feel the waves of the tide coming in getting my feet and blanket wet, you know?” His paintings often depict snapshots of life–vibrant and with each element positioned just so, as though they were pulled from a photo album.
One of his Cape Cod collections is in the style of travel posters that were popular in the 1940s, which are made using a silk screen printing technique that Kennedy perfected in his Beacon Hill studio. In addition to his passion for silk-screen printing, Kennedy also used a first-of-its-kind process. According to his website, “[Kennedy] first coined the term “giclee” to describe the cutting-edge advancements in computer-assisted inkjet fine art reproduction in 1995, as opposed to offset lithography which had been the only other color printing at that time. These images are available as reasonably priced limited-edition giclee prints and posters.”
Kennedy is also heavily involved in Cape Abilities, a nonprofit that provides supports those with disabilities within the Cape Cod community. Many of his pieces can be found at the Cape Abilities Thrift Shop in Yarmouth. “They’re always calling me for more,” laughs Kennedy.
While the Kennedy Gallery on Main St. in Hyannis will be closing this year, Mr. Kennedy will still be actively painting the lively scenes that have been a part of his life since that first cross-county adventure.
After taking a leap of faith and following her passion, Molly J. created a booming bikini brand, becoming the navigator of her own destiny.
Text by Christina Galt
“Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, so my brother and I grew up thinking that was the normal route you would take,” she explains. “Growing up, we never saw our parents working for anyone else, we never saw them going into an office from 9-5, we just saw them be their own bosses.”
From then on Molly J. knew she wanted to do something entrepreneurial. “I wanted to start a business, I just didn’t know what that business would be,” she shares.
After graduating in just three years with a degree from Bentley University, she used what would have been her last year of college as a “buffer year.” Molly J. explains, “I used that fourth year to start my brand. I had the mental focus of ‘Okay, I am just going to do this. If it doesn’t work out I’ll just get a normal job and have the normal timeline with all of my friends.’ It gave me that security blanket I needed to start my brand.”
Molly J. found the inspiration for her unique business through her own struggles of finding the perfect bathing suit. She says, “The reason I landed on starting my own swimwear brand is because I was buying suits that were $200 plus for a suit, and if you weren’t spending that much, the next step down was cheap bikinis that were really bad quality.”
On her 21st birthday, her parents gave her a necklace which featured a compass, “The message behind the compass is to be the navigator of your own destiny, and that was something that just really resonated with me,” shares Molly J. “I decided that was what I wanted to use as the logo of my brand, because that is exactly what I’m doing with my life.”
When creating her swimwear, Molly J. draws inspiration from her environment. “The Cape has really brought out some more preppy styles in my line, like my gingham print suits,” she says. “The first collection I designed I was living in Miami, so the style reflected that.” This past season, Molly J. found herself working with different textures. “I found all of these fun textured fabrics, and I really loved it, so that became the basis of last years collection,” she explains.
The summer of 2021, Molly J. opened her very first pop-up shop in Mashpee Commons. She shares, “I’m so happy that my first pop-up was on the Cape because it is where I’m from and what I know.” She currently has another pop-up shop on the Cape in the works for this upcoming summer in addition to her Mashpee Commons location. “Last summer really blew me away with how much support we received, so I’m excited to expand here on the Cape,” she shares. “I still have that mindset that I need to keep growing and take the brand to the next level. I think that feeling, as an entrepreneur, is something you never want to end and can be a crucial part to the success of your business.”
Chairman of the Beach
Justin Labdon has figured out a way to make going to the beach a successful career.
Text by Chris White
The conception for Cape Cod Beach Chair took place in a most unbeachy moment. Justin Labdon had been mired in an unfulfilling job, working for the rat race in what he calls a “standard career path” for Cape Codders. After graduating from Nauset High School, he went to college, moved to Boston, and took a sales and marketing job in the high-tech industry at the height of the growing dot-com phenomenon. When that bubble burst, he found himself unemployed, “looking for what to do next.” That summer, he realized how far he had drifted from his dreams and from his roots. “I went out to Nauset Beach with some buddies,” he recalls, “and realized how much I love the Cape. How much I had missed it.” Back in the North End soon thereafter, he was hanging out on his building’s roof with some friends, sitting in “crappy folding beach chairs,” and looking out over the concrete jungle. It was then that inspiration struck. “Someone should make nice beach chairs,” he decided. “And that is a business that could be marketable on the Cape.”
“I was engaged at the time, so I wrote up the business proposal and shared it with my fiancee,” says Labdon. “She was mortified.” She also saw merit in his plan; she agreed to stick around for the ride, and the couple soon moved to Sandwich, allowing her to commute to her own job. Justin set up a sewing machine in the basement, a workshop in the garage, and launched “a really good website.” He bought a couple of chairs, tinkered with the designs, changed dimensions, and began working with quality materials such as weather-resistant tropical hardwood, stainless-steel hardware, and Sunbrella awning canvas. Most of the time, Labdon’s chairs are constructed from Shorea wood, commonly used in the construction of outdoor furniture, but sometimes he’ll use mahogany, white oak, or even teak, although that becomes expensive. “I try to keep all of our chairs in the range of $150-$200,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s possible to make a better beach chair, even at a higher price”
About 10 years ago, he purchased a 5,500 square-foot barn in Harwich. “It used to be a wooden barrel factory,” he notes. The new location includes a 1,000 square-foot sewing loft, an assembly shop with a digital CNC machine for cutting the wooden chair pieces, as well as a “gigantic retail store,” where he sells anything needed for a great day at the beach: towels, Maui Jim sunglasses, beach games, kites, Yeti and IceMule coolers, and stand up paddle boards.
The Cape Cod Beach Chair has evolved to, “a handful of standard models in 7-8 colors,” says Labdon. “Every so often, we’ll do shorter runs of limited editions in other colors and materials—tie dye, sail cloth—but probably 70% of our sales are in classic navy-blue.” In addition, CCBC has a growing roster of commercial accounts who are ordering large quantities for corporate branding, special events and sometimes employee and client gifts. Labdon’s original idea has certainly paid off, as his chairs ship regularly to addresses around the globe, not to mention their national press in the travel sections of major newspapers, lifestyle magazines such as Men’s Journal, and TV programs including the Today Show, as well as on Chronicle, twice. “We’ve had a pretty good run,” says Labdon. “It’s been good to have a national presence even though we’re a local company.”
Winemaker Joseph Carr deservedly earns recognition as 2021 American Winery of the Year for Josh Cellars, and his life on the Cape provides endless reasons to celebrate.
Text by Allyson Plessner
Over the past few years, Joseph Carr has become a household name (if he wasn’t already), in large part due to an increasingly recognizable commercial for his winery, Josh Cellars. “I didn’t come from a family of wine makers; far from it,” opens the commercial, with a bottle of Josh and a photo of Carr’s father, after whom the wine was named, splashed across the screen. Carr goes on to explain his working-class upbringing, his serendipitous fall into the candlelit world of fine wines, and his lifelong love affair with the ambrosial flavors of Bourdeaux, Napa, and beyond. “That commercial, it’s the truth,” says Carr. “We’re telling a story—about the American dream; about my dad. We’re not trying to pretend to be some fanciful, expensive wine. We want to be that wine that somebody buys when they have their first date.”
This year, Josh Cellars was named American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. “I read that magazine when it was first starting 40 years ago,” comments Carr. “And I liked it because it communicated this value of approachability, introducing new regions and lifestyles to the wine community. Wine should be approachable.”
Ten years ago, Carr was selling wine out of the back of his truck while living at his home in Dennis, and today, Josh Cellars is the number one premium wine brand nationally, with over five million cases sold internationally, and a huge distinguishment under their belt from Wine Enthusiast. “I still get up every day and go to Dennis Public Market with my dog Molly,” says Carr about the impact of such profound accomplishments on his life. “Sometimes I don’t need anything, but I still go there to see my friends and neighbors. It’s my way of connecting, and we talk about more than wine. We talk about the tide, and fishing, and the Arts Foundation.” Carr’s life is rooted in those small-town values, and in many ways, so is his brand. “That’s what I love about Cape Cod,” he says. “There are so many places where you can get lost. You can go fly fishing at the end of the world and still find yourself part of a community.”
As Carr is quick to point out, there are many ways to measure success. For a brand like Josh, it isn’t difficult to look to the millions of cases sold across the world or that recognizable commercial with millions of hits on YouTube alone. But Carr measures his success in passion—the passion he has for his brand and the passion he and his cherished late wife Dee were able to bring into people’s lives with their wines. “There are so many metrics by which to measure the wine industry,” explains Carr, “but those material things are not what defines me. What touches me the most is sitting in my kitchen on Cape Cod, and knowing that somewhere my wine is being served at someone’s wedding. So many of us are connected by this wine, but more importantly, by the spirit of this brand.”
When asked about his legacy, there are many things Carr could say about the mark he’s left on Cape Cod and beyond, the millions of dollars he gives to charity through Josh Cellars and Joseph Carr Wines, or the stamp he’s made on that whimsical, almost untouchable, world of wine he found himself so enraptured by in his college days working as a wine steward. Instead, he says simply, “I’d like to be known as a good neighbor.”
For his next venture, Carr plans to write a book…or three. And now, when that commercial comes across his screen, Carr says he has his daughter to keep him humble. “She leaves the room when it comes on,” he laughs. “I guess that’s how I stay grounded.”
Life’s a Beer
Cape Cod Beer’s Todd and Beth Marcus are committed to making, distributing and ultimately filling customers’ glasses within a 60 mile range. It doesn’t get any fresher.
Text by Chris White
Like grunge music, microbreweries burst onto the scene around 1992, even though companies such as San Francisco’s Anchor and Sonoma’s New Albion had pioneered the US craft beer movement in 1965 and 1976, respectively. On the east coast, Samuel Adams, founded in 1984, introduced many beer drinkers to the craft experience—and then promptly grew out of the “micro” prefix that the brand had helped popularize. While the success of Sam Adams had created a buzz, the west coast really dominated the first wave of microbreweries. Todd Marcus of Cape Cod Beer spent time in Seattle in the early 90’s and slaked his thirst on IPA’s from Red Hook and on hefeweizen from Portland’s Widmer Brothers Brewing, among others. Although his degree was in electrical engineering, he soon found himself back east, making beer for John Harvard’s, a chain of brewpubs in the Philadelphia area. In 1998, the Hyport Brewing Company, at the end of Main Street in Hyannis, offered him a job. His wife and business partner, Beth Marcus, recalls, “We moved here sight unseen. With a baby.”
Hyport was technically a brewpub, and the legal name for the beer production was Nantucket Brewing. Todd was the sole employee of this branch of the business, which was separate for permitting reasons from the restaurant enterprise. Over the next few years, Hyport struggled in a very competitive restaurant scene. “Two weeks before Christmas in 2003, Todd was laid off,” recalls Beth. Soon afterwards, her own job ended. The Marcuses now had two boys, aged 4 and 6. The tide was right for a bold move, and fortunately all was not lost at Hyport Brewing. Todd struck a deal to continue using the brewpub’s equipment to produce his own brew, Cape Cod Beer. He bought some “squatty” barrels, contracted with a few local businesses, and Todd brewed and delivered the beer. By 2006, he was ready to expand, and Cape Cod Beer moved into its current location on Phinney’s Lane. Beth joined as the company’s fourth employee, directing marketing retail and finance. “There were no taprooms, though,” she recalls. “We had a growler business.” Growlers, 64oz jugs, were sold from the brewery, and the delivery accounts continued to grow.
“We built the business organically,” says Todd. “We weren’t interested in taking on millions of dollars in debt.” Instead, they waited until the money was available to expand. From the jump, Cape Cod Beer has been committed to living up to its name—they distribute their own beer, and only to the Cape Cod area. Year-round employees number 20, including 3-5 brewers, and swell to around 30 for the summer and fall months. “We’re very lucky to have created such a great culture with our employees,” says Todd. “They support us because we support them. It’s something to be proud of.” Along the way, they have kept community front and center by sponsoring local charitable events and supporting local artisans. In both their retail showroom and their seasonal farmers/craft markets in the parking lot outside their beer garden, Cape Cod Beer features products made by a variety of local vendors. Over the past few years, the Marcuses have also made music a priority. “Live music has always been a part of my life,” says Todd, who has seen over 40 Grateful Dead shows. “It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase local artists. Some kids who got their start here, are out playing on the circuit now.”
Now 18 year later, Cape Cod Beer owns the distinction of being the first true microbrewery on the Cape. With “A Vacation in Every Pint,” Cape Cod Beer is continuing to ride the craft beer wave in this new decade.
The Joy of Cheese
Mother daughter team, Elizabeth and Alex Hitchcock share their love of handmade artisan cheese with the Cape at their new Brewster café, ACK Gioia.
Text by Julie Craven Wagner
As a native Italian, raising her family on the idyllic island of Nantucket, Elizabeth longed for the kind of cheese she had been raised with. “I am accustomed to going to the creamery and getting a fresh product, something that was made that day, to be eaten that day,” she explains. “I decided to make my own. I had to learn, and it took time to get it right, but it was always about getting to the end result that was fresh and authentic.” In 2013, that quest for quality eventually evolved into a business that now produces over 1,500 balls of mozzarella a week in the summer season.
In January of 2020, her friend and representative for food purveyor Dole and Bailey, Liliana Dougan, introduced her to the chefs at Chatham Bars Inn and Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, where her product was enthusiastically embraced and immediately placed on the menus of both resorts, as well at the Chatham Bars Inn Farm Stand in Brewster. That trip across Nantucket Sound to Brewster was a day that changed Hitchcock’s life, as well as that of her daughter, Alexandra.
“I had just moved to Brewster to live with the love of my life, Bradley,” Alex says of her boyfriend, an offshore fisherman. “And I found myself on Underpass Road looking at the perfect location for an on-Cape facility,” Elizabeth adds. A small retail and café space had just come on the market that looked perfect for on-Cape operations. The pandemic afforded the time and patience to outfit their production space with double-walled, water-cooled stainless tanks to make the cheese, and a small retail space where they offer other local cheeses, breads, jams, pasta, sauces, and Nantucket’s Bee Happy honey and beeswax candles produced by David Hitchcock, Elizabeth’s husband and Alex’s father.
Alex oversees the operation of ACK Gioia, a name derived from the Nantucket aviation call signal and the Italian word for “Joy.” A visit to the shop always includes the kind of warm and personal greeting one might find in a small family-run negozio di fromaggi in the quaint villages of Italy. Informal discussion of the various cheeses and processes, as well as stories behind the local purveyors of the delightful products sold in the shop send customers out the door with incomparably fresh delights as well as a sense of connection.
There are a few critical things that make the cheeses produced by ACK Gioia different from any other. First, as Elizabeth continually commits, it is fresh. The fresh date on the product is only a few sunsets away, so the good news is you need to enjoy it very soon. Unlike most other fresh mozzarellas, theirs is not packed in a bath of citric acid and salt. And as Elizabeth describes, when you cut into the cheese, you immediately notice the difference, “there are small pockets of the milk inside and between the delicate strands.” In addition to mozzarella, the Hitchcocks make burrata—mozzarella filled with shreds of mozzarella soaked in luscious, fresh cream (Stracciatella)—and small containers of the Stracciatella.
The Hitchcocks have exciting plans for the 2022 season at ACK Gioia, including an expanded menu of salads, sandwiches and frittatas, but one thing won’t change: the authenticity of the product or the owners. They truly get, as well as give, joy through their cheese. As Alex says, “It doesn’t matter where in the world you are from, or what your background is, people come together through food. It has the power to nourish, and excite, and comfort; but most of all you can create memories for a lifetime when you come together for a great meal.”
It’s Their Jam
Celestial navigation couldn’t have provided a more fortuitous intersection for two creative entrepreneurs.
Text by Julie Craven Wagner
In the spring of 2020, the world became very quiet. For some, their inner voices gained amplification. That was the case for two entrepreneurs, both Yarmouthport natives, who were on opposite yet overlapping tracks as the world quarantined at home. When the world shut down, Kelly O’Connell was living in Manhattan. O’Connell had spent over a decade with a busy career in marketing and product development for lifestyle brands like Martha Stewart and The Pioneer Woman where she worked to bring recipes to the national grocery market.
Meanwhile, Greg Bilezikian—whose parents built the iconic Christmas Tree Shops—was operating his Yarmouth-based product development and import company that distributed goods nationally. As the pandemic set in motion substantial changes and logistical challenges globally, Bilezikian began exploring new opportunities.
“When the pandemic hit, I quickly realized I’d be confined to my tiny apartment in New York,” O’Connell says as she explains her decision to return to her parents’ home in Yarmouthport. Still working, but remotely, O’Connell looked for ways to occupy herself during those early days of solitude. “My father loves toast, and years ago I gave him a jar of raspberry jam Martha Stewart made, and he coveted it,” she remembers. “I began playing in the kitchen and set out to recreate that jar of jam. Working from home, I noticed how many people were taking walks throughout the day along Route 6A. I thought selling jam and fresh flowers from our garden would give people a reason to smile.” O’Connell set up an old table with a red checkered cloth, and within weeks, a steady stream of customers began leaving money in a jar for her homemade jam.
The longer O’Connell worked remotely, the less desirable her eventual return to city life became. Searching for a role that would keep her on Cape Cod, she approached Bilezikian in the fall of 2020 about openings within his import business. Bilezikian was looking to downsize, but O’Connell’s experience developing food excited him. “I have this idea around jam,” Bilezikian told O’Connell. Quickly she began researching production kitchens, developing branding ideas and creating more recipes. In the spring of 2021, O’Connell returned to Bilezikian with a business plan, a full line of jams, hot sauces and condiments, a complete marketing strategy and 30 stores on Cape Cod willing to place orders. Bilezikian was convinced, and with his partnership Lighthouse Keeper’s was born.
Just a few weeks after their recipes went into small-batch production, a delightful bakery in the heart of Yarmouthport came on the market. Bilezikian and O’Connell saw possibility in the bright, inviting space, and O’Connell again presented Bilezikian with a proposal—this time to create a gourmet food shop and café experience featuring their line of Lighthouse Keeper’s jams and condiments on the menu. Excited about the potential, Bilezikian purchased the property, O’Connell left her job in New York, and in September 2021 the charming Lighthouse Keeper’s Pantry on historic Route 6A opened.
When asked how she arrived at the name Lighthouse Keeper’s, as well as the brand’s image that seems plucked from the vivid imagination of Herman Melville, O’Connell says “Sandy Neck Beach is my favorite place; I take my boat there whenever I can. Growing up, it was an extension of my backyard, and it was that for Greg, too. I thought about how the Sandy Neck lighthouse keeper might have used his surroundings to create and season his meals. It didn’t seem like a far stretch that he’d use the wild blueberries, beach plums and native cranberries that grow there to make jams to pass time, just like I did.”
Today, the café acts as a beacon to Yarmouthport neighbors, as well as Cape Cod locals and visitors, who gather for delicious coffee, wonderfully creative scones and hearty sandwiches. It’s a lively place where togetherness feels normal again. “We love how much joy it brings to our local community,” says Bilezikian.
On The Cuff
After quitting her corporate job, Tiffany Narbonne embarked on a journey to do what made her heart happy. Today, she is well on her way to creating a gem of an empire.
Text by Christina Galt
“Iʼve always been passionate about gemstones and the special meanings they hold,” shares Cape resident Tiffany Narbonne, founder and owner of lifestyle brand, T. Jazelle. Since founding the brand in 2013, Narbonne’s brand has become widely recognized across New England and now nationally.
In 2018, Narbonne brought her passion home when she opened T. Jazelle’s flagship boutique in West Dennis. “I feel so blessed to be able to have our company based here on Cape Cod,” shares Narbonne.“ What I think is really special about the boutique, is the fact that you can see our entire collection. And because we are located on Cape Cod, we have people who visit the shop from all over, which really helps drive our goal of becoming a nationally recognized brand.”
Currently, Narbonne has a crew of about 15 women who handcraft every piece in house on Cape Cod–right down to the descriptive packaging. “I personally write every message behind the charms and stones for the packaging.” She shares, “I try to think of things I have personally gone through, and we have so many amazing fans that write to us asking for a certain message, so for the charms, I try to think of designs that portray their messages.”
When it comes to picking out the gemstones, Narbonne and her husband–who is also her business partner–try to find stones that have different meanings. “Whether it is something I’m going through, or followers ask for things like strength, healing or good luck, I really try to find stones with attributes I think will resonate with others, as well as fresh colors that will just make your wrist happy,” she says. “We want our customers to be able to ‘stack their story’ with each additional piece.”
The West Dennis boutique introduced the Stack Bar this past summer. “It was something I was working on for a while,” explains Narbonne. “When someone comes in they can see all the different gemstones we offer and can pick out certain properties they might want.” Also featured are displays filled with their sister brand, H.E.L.P. by T. Jazelle. “Our H.E.L.P. Collection was founded two years ago,” explains Narbonne. “When we created it, we felt it was really important for us to give back to the local community that has given so much to us and other causes that are near to our hearts.” With their H.E.L.P. Collection, which stands for hope, encouragement, love and purpose, the brand has been able to donate over $160,000 to organizations worldwide. “The Paper Store has really been a huge help with raising those funds,” explains Narbonne. You can find H.E.L.P. by T. Jazelle in all 80 locations of the Paper Store.
In addition to the Paper Store, you’ll find T. Jazelle across the Cape in local stores like Sativa in Harwich, “They have carried my brand since day one,” says Narbonne. “Being carried in local stores and having the community genuinely believe in me when I first started out, to today, really just means the world to me.” The brand also collaborates with local businesses like Hot Diggity, Truro Vineyards and more. “We love being part of the memories made at those local businesses,” says Narbonne. “With our brand, we really want to create a gift that can commemorate a special moment, remind you of a loved one or get you through a hard time. We put so much love into each and every piece. We like to say that we create the story, but the wearer is really the one who is creating that meaningful message.”
In 2020, Corey Quinn settled back home on the east coast and was immediately inspired by his surroundings–Coast Goldworks is the result of his talent and years of dedication in the business.
Text by Rachel Walman
Corey Quinn’s career as a goldsmith began here in Massachusetts 17 years ago, and since those early days, he has undergone extensive training in all aspects of fine jewelry manufacturing. “I’m a GIA Diamonds Graduate, and I’ve developed relationships over the years with trustworthy people to source materials from,” Quinn says. Prior to starting his own business here on the Cape, Quinn had been working at one of the largest custom jewelry retail shops in the country, based in Seattle. “When the pandemic hit, I decided that was a good time to move back home to Massachusetts and be closer with my family,” he explains. “Once I got back, I started making some coastal inspired pieces out of my home studio, and they started selling as fast as I was making them.” In February 2021, he started Coast Goldworks.
Quinn takes inspiration for his pieces from the environment and local atmosphere, and the lifestyle that encourages. “Living on Cape Cod, we’re surrounded by an abundance of beautiful sources of inspiration–the ocean waves and the beaches, the nautical and maritime history, incredible sunrises and sunsets, the changing of the seasons and beautiful landscapes,” he illustrates. “I have a notebook right now, with about 40 designs that I haven’t even made yet. Some come to me in my sleep.”
While Coast Goldworks pieces are featured at The Gilded Oyster jewelry store in Falmouth, Quinn continues to make all his creations at his home studio. “As a goldsmith, that’s the main part of my passion–just sitting at my workbench and bringing the piece to life; from sawing and forging and hammering, to melting stone and finally setting it.”
His years of experience in the field have led him to using accredited, responsibly mined, ethical suppliers for diamonds and other precious metals. As for metal, Quinn only works in gold and platinum. “I always check that there’s no microscopic cracks or pits or porosity, anything that would present a problem down the road,” he emphasizes.
All Coast Goldworks pieces are made to order and take about 1-3 weeks to complete, from initial request to final product. “I spend an eight-hour day processing all the orders and working on my bench, getting various pieces completed,” Quinn explains. “After that’s done, I spend another two hours just working on designs. A project may take about six weeks before I get it right. I always have at least four or five in different stages of production going on.” Each design starts with a simple pencil sketch, which evolves into a computer model that is then 3D printed. Following that step, the design will either be hand-fabricated or cast in gold. “At that point, all the stones are set under the microscope and go to final polish and quality inspection,” relates Quinn.
Quinn’s journey recalls what may be one of President John F. Kennedy’s more popular quotes among Cape Codders: “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are going back from whence we came.” Indeed, coming back home has led Quinn to his ultimate calling, which in turn brought forth a creative spirit that will continue to forge heirlooms for generations to come.