Churning out magnets, tea, pillows in JC
The unusual stories behind your neighbors’ small businesses
by Ricardo Kaulessar
Reporter Staff Writer
Jun 20, 2010 | 2792 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MADE IN JERSEY CITY – The Body Café, an all-natural skin care line based in Jersey City, was one of several small businesses honored by Jersey City at the second annual ‘Made In Jersey City’ day. The businesses also showed off their products as part of the event.
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One downtown Jersey City company makes jewelry from the nut of a South American palm tree, while another churns out custom refrigerator magnets.

They were among seven local companies that received a citation last week in the second annual “Made in Jersey City” ceremony at City Hall.

“I feel that this is an artsy area, and I found people were open to handmade goods.” – Luca Cusolito

From a woman who knits baby blankets for charities, to a local tea company, the businesses were able to sell their products in the City Council Chambers last week, while discussing why they choose to do business here.

Eco-friendly jewelry from Tagua tree

Damarys Cuevas, who resides near Hamilton Park in downtown Jersey City, showed off her handiwork as owner of Greenpologie, a web-based business she operates out of her home. The company sells eco-friendly, hand-crafted jewelry made from the nut of Tagua palm tree. Cuevas felt honored by the city’s acknowledgement of her work.

“I think it’s amazing, and it’s nice to be acknowledged and appreciated for the work that you do, especially when it’s handmade,” Cuevas said.

Jacqueline Odom started Simmy’s Stitches three months ago. The company provides crocheted items to various charitable groups.

Odom, a resident of the city’s Greenville section, saw her daughter Kandice give birth to granddaughter Simone Marie three months premature and weighing only 2 lbs. The baby spent three months in Newark’s Beth Israel Medical Center, where her incubator was covered by a special, crocheted blanket made by her grandmother.

The blanket won over the hospital’s staff and they requested more blankets from Odom. She ended up donating 200 blankets to the hospital. That’s when her daughter saw a potential career opportunity for her mom.

“My daughter said, ‘Ma, maybe you should go into business for yourself,’ but I didn’t think about it because I always like crocheting just because it was relaxing,” said Odom, a retired executive assistant from a New Jersey publishing company. “I thought about it, I thought about it, and then I decided to just to do it.”

Part of the proceeds from her business goes to various charities.

Downtown ‘Craft Mafia’

Other businesses that set up tables in the Council Chambers included Body Café, an all-natural skin care line; Innovation 5 Designs, which creates custom-designed pillows; The Gran Tea Company, providing custom teas and tea gifts;, maker of promotional refrigerator magnets, and Lollibomb Beauty, offering natural cosmetic products.

Downtown resident Luca Cusolito runs the organic beauty products outfit Lollibomb Beauty. Cusolito, a self-described, third-generation “small-business owner” said she came into her vocation because she enjoyed “making her own cosmetics” and also found an audience in Jersey City.

She also is a founder of the Jersey City Craft Mafia, a collective that helps provide local artisans with an outlet to ply their wares and to network with other artisans.

“I feel that this is an artsy area, and I found people were open to handmade goods,” Cusolito said. “People are just more receptive here.”

Kimberly Black was one of the customers receptive to what was being offered during “Made in Jersey City.” Black, a city employee on a break, checked out the natural products at the Body Café table, manned by longtime Jersey City resident Tiffany Perry and her family.

She applauds efforts to boost local entrepreneurs.

“I think we need to give our entrepreneurs the opportunity to have people test out their products and give familiar with them, which is a good thing for this city,” Black said. “And I look forward to doing business with some of these people.”

Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at

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