Got It Made–Local entrepreneurs and their unique products and services
Norwalk’s cultural landscape provides the ideal environment for entrepreneurs to thrive. Meet three local entrepreneurs.
My Blind Bag is so much more than just another subscription box service. Founders and Norwalk natives Melissa White and Jill Dunn (shown above) have a simple mission: “Each month we curate a collection of thoughtful and useful gifts that you didn’t even know you needed.” Now these friends turned co-workers provide hundreds of women with a monthly gift that often feels like it was purchased just for them. “We get more people saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, that was my favorite,’” says White. Dunn adds: “It happens so much that people think we pick the bags for them!” It is this eye for perfection that has allowed My Blind Bag to expand from an idea into a growing business. With nine months of Blind Bags to consumers, Dunn and White have data and feedback to work with. Their signature pink bags are filled with useful items—such as June’s reusable bags to November’s cozy scarf and hoop earrings. Even though Dunn and White are close friends, they both admit that they couldn’t be more different. In terms of likes and personal taste, White says: “We are polar opposite. The way we work and come together with a bag is weird and amazing.”
Zena Moon Candles has an interesting backstory. Oprah herself chose Zena Moon candles for her Live Your Best Life Tour after receiving a set from a close friend. Chief Executive Candlemaker and owner Jenn Balliett took over Zena Moon in 2014. The single-mom of three was living in Norwalk and working in Stamford. Says Moon: “I felt like I was missing out on so much and had tons of ‘mom guilt’ for not being there.” When the chance came up to take-over Zena Moon Candles as her own, she jumped at it. “I love showing my kids you can do what you love and are passionate about.” This passion is evident in her candles that are lovingly labeled with quotes and affirmations. Each Zena Moon candle includes a gemstone paired with the message. “Everything is handmade locally in Norwalk. We are #norwalkproud.”
Salty Sea Tee’s Jason Coleman may originally hail from the Midwest, but it is the Norwalk Islands and Connecticut coastline that inspired him to found his apparel company. “The brand will always have an appreciation of what Norwalk has to offer,” says Coleman. “That is a nice work/life balance of laid back coastal vibe.” This feeling can definitely be felt through Salty Sea Tee’s growing line of merchandise. Its logo’d t-shirts, trucker hats, soft sweatshirts, and duffel bags are all made in the USA. “The hats were actually made and designed about an hour away from Norwalk.” Customers love sporting their local gear on their travels to just about anywhere in the world. “I love when people send us photos wearing our stuff out an about anywhere from Machu Pichu, Rockies, and Vietnam.” Some proceeds from all sales go back to Connecticut Fund for the Environment’s Save the Sound program. “This enables me to give back to the place that we all know and love—Long Island Sound.”
TAKE YOUR PILLS // The Norwalk business Health Prize uses a technology-based gamification and rewards program to incentivize patients to take their prescription medication.