By Holly Hurd
When her children were young, Connie Cusick quit her job at a communications company to open The Brown Bumblebee, a small company selling home accessories from France, a line of handbags she designed and vintage jewelry.
“With four shows a year, the house became my showroom and workroom,” said Connie.
As the business took off, she added 20 or more trunk shows a year outside of her home. This meant packing up boxes of large things and lugging them all over the county as well as leaving her family behind.
During this period of her life, Connie realized she was passionate about vintage jewelry and often found inspiration for her handbag collection based on the jewelry.
“My clients and friends asked me to make things for them,” she said. “When I started to make more jewelry, I saw an opportunity.” Tired of storing merchandise in her home and being away from her family, she closed her home accessories business and focused on creating a vintage jewelry collection called Proof Jewelry.
“I could take my entire inventory with me in one bag,” she said. “This was so much more manageable.”
She began scouring flea markets and estate sales, not only in the US but also in London and Paris. She started “unlocking the English silver vaults,” looking for vintage things she could repurpose in a more contemporary style.
She started selling her collection in boutiques in Westport, with much success.
“I knew that having a creative venture is something I must have in my life,” said Connie.
Her new company, Proof Jewelry “awakens the classic essence of timeless elegance and the splendor of aristocratic inspired status style.”
Her classically-inspired jewelry is a hit, based in part on the popularity of the PBS hit, Downton Abbey. The Proof Jewelry collection reinterprets vintage pieces from centuries ago. Cusick’s designs evoke a sort of bohemian glamour. Showcasing silver cuffs, large lockets based on ones made centuries ago and equestrian-inspired necklaces, Connie’s jewelry encourages women to feel confident and powerful.
“I always hear women say they wish they could do something inspiring and I think they should just do things without fear,” said Connie’s, adding that her parents were her role models. They are both entrepreneurs who taught her that anything is possible.
Given that background and support, Connie recently started a social media
consulting business with the tag line, “Be a Business Bad Ass.” Offering a one day seminar titled, Miss Social Boot Camp, Connie plans to teach women the essentials of creating content for Facebook and Pinterest. “I love the idea of teaching and inspiring other women to grow their businesses.”
Based on her success, Connie is working to get her line into larger stores while conducting private sales. Her collections have been featured at high-end stores including: Henri Bendel, Mille Raes, Pimlico, and Dovecote. They’ve also been featured in magazines and on web sites.
“With the internet and a web site, you can be global and make sales in your sleep,” she said. “The best part is I get to stay home with my kids.”