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Friendsgiving

What’s a nice girl from Indiana doing in Fairfield? Sharing her creativity and myriad talents with others, for one thing. Connie Cusick has spent the past 20 years building her own businesses and creating objects that bring beauty and inspiration to the world around her. It is hard to label Cusick because she has so many facets to her. She is an entrepreneur, photographer, jewelry designer, a certified business and life coach, and personally—she has been curating collections of vintage pieces for over 30 years which has led to her newest venture, an online vintage shop of found objects called The Salted Farm.

As you might imagine, it all started when she was a child growing up in Indiana. “Both my grandmothers had a retro decorating flair—especially at holiday time. They each had vastly different styles, but I remember loving their patterned dishes, decorations, and the way they elevated special occasions with these objects and attention to every detail.” Her father always brought the fun with card games, sports and laughter. Cusick feels that the items that surround us need to have meaning. “Even if it was a found piece—or handed down to you—an object from the past has a history attached to it,” she says. She is able to make vintage items relevant and knows how to edit out pieces for a modern flair. Her mother was a big influence in honing her style—­“she could make anything beautiful,” says Cusick, with her eyes moist—her mom passed away in 2007.

Cusick decided to move from the midwest to a much bigger city—Chicago—where she learned to cultivate a “city vibe” in her design aesthetic until Martha Stewart finally lured her to Connecticut. “I immediately knew Fairfield was right for me—the eclectic mix of people—New England homes with character, and of course, great inspiration.” Cusick created a business in 2002, the Brown Bumblebee that featured French accessories and a line of classic style handbags sewn by Cusick herself. Did her grandmothers teach her to sew? No—she taught herself. Her friends would tell you—if she doesn’t know how to do something in the creative space, she will try to learn it, and even master it. She always loved antique jewelry and decided to create a line of her own, Proof Vintage Jewelry in 2006. Her collection was sold at Henri Bendel in New York as well a small boutiques in France and the US.

Cusick’s Friendsgiving party was born from her passion to entertain and give her guests an experience. “I enjoy shopping locally for food, flowers, wine, dessert, and like to design with seasonal additions like artichokes and greenery, or a table of vintage glass jars in varying heights.” Living in an area which is rich in culinary excellence, she had everything she needed to make a great menu not far from her front door. She collaborated to bring the Friendsgiving menu to life with chef Fred Kaskowitz of Fred 06825. Together they created a buffet of seasonal items featuring miniature turkey pot pies, a multi-colored heirloom beets platter, au gratin potatoes, and demi-tasse cups filled with squash soup garnished with spiced sour cream.

The magical fall-inspired desserts were created by pastry chef Alina Dancho of Alina’s Cakes and Cookies. She created tall, layered, and deconstructed carrot and chocolate cakes for the party, along with mini cupcakes with marzipan pumpkins on them. Cusick and her friends are lovers of rosé Champagne, and Kindred Spirits, in the same plaza as Alina’s, had a wonderful selection of boutique bubbly rosés. “I dipped the glasses in pink rock crystal sugar for a little added sparkle, and tied my vintage Parisian glasses with a little green bow, giving it an added elegance,” she explains.

Cusick also called on her talented friend and designer Cheryl Sugel, owner of the popular home decor and accessories store Millie Rae’s, newly relocated to 1011 Post Road East, Westport. Cusick asked Sugel to “surprise her,” with some new additions to the décor and the tablescape. With a base of classic pieces in neutral colors, Sugel layered on texture and pops of orange with pillows and Asian artwork above the fireplace. “I wanted to use organic materials for a dramatic centerpiece—adding tall feathers into an oversized bowl—to complement the season as well as the dinner menu,” explains Sugel. Cusick’s place settings, with tangerines placed in mint julep cups atop vintage dinnerware were the perfect extension of Sugel’s tabletop design. The collaboration wowed her guests—yielding an unforgettable Friendsgiving party that blended both fall and Thanksgiving into a feast of sharing. “Connie is constantly inspired by what’s around her. Her jewelry has always been a fascinating combination of vintage pieces that she has re-created by adding modern components,” says Sugel.

When Cusick is not entertaining, she is usually collecting, or consulting others—sometimes that involves complicated business decisions, sometimes that can mean redesigning a space or helping someone set life goals. A devoted traveler, she will swap her home with a French homeowner, and spend a few weeks at a time in a new locale. “I feel very at home in France—especially Paris. I am energized by being around so much beauty—and I love to find it in simple things, which seems to me a very French way of looking at the world.”

Connie joined friends Mary Beth Peterson (seated) and Lori Cunningham in the living room.

Cusick is a talented photographer and has also been doing photo­shoots and creating social media content for entrepreneurs. One of the friends at the luncheon said it best, “Connie’s ‘eye’ should be trademarked!”

Guests Lisa Garcia and Carolyn Tormey enjoy their Kindred Spirits Champagne.

Cathy Mackay (with Connie) enjoyed their drinks as well.

 

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