Central MA Up + Comer: Coco’s Closet Founder Jonelle Garofoli
Thursday, January 09, 2014
A Conversation with Jonelle Garofoli
SW: How did Coco’s Closet come about?
JG: In 2011, I needed to find baby items such as a high chair and a crib to leave at my parent's home while we visited from Florida. I didn’t want to pay "retail costs" but could not locate a children’s consignment store that was local to Worcester. That idea sat in the back of my head until we moved back from Florida in the spring of 2012. Once we settled in, I knew that was what I should do! Hence, the founding of Coco's Closet, A Children’s Consignment. I definitely knew I had to be my own boss since I like to march to the beat of my own drum.
SW: How do you describe Coco’s Closet?
JG: I see my shop as an outlet for anyone looking to sell their unused or gently used baby and children's items and clothing. It is a cozy place to shop for those expensive baby and children's items such as high chairs and jumperoos. I can sell them at a fraction of the cost of retail shops.
SW: What is the best thing about your career? Your life?
JG: The best thing about my job cannot be summed up in one aspect. I would have to say that to save my local consumers money is my ultimate goal. As a mother, I spent a lot of time in consignment shops looking to save and to make a dime. The next best thing is being able to take my children to work with me if need be! The greatest thing about my life is being a mother. I embrace every second I can spend with my children. I want to be there for them every time they need me. To be able to run a business and be a full-time mom is a dream come true.
SW: What is a typical day like for you?
JG: My children have 100% of my attention all morning, 7 days a week. So, from breakfasts to dressing them to preschool, I am with them. I only work 3-4 days a week, so on my days off, I take the kids everywhere I go and everywhere they want to go such as parks or to the bookstore! On the days I work, I start work at 9:30 am and end at 5:30 pm. As soon as the work day is done, I’m off to get home, get dinner ready, and spend quality time with them. It is baths, books, and then bed every day and I LOVE it. I venture out with their daddy, Joe Pasquale, at least once a week for some quality time together too. Family time is daily!
SW: What is your dream career?
JG: My dream career would be working for the Travel Channel as a host for some show that rates hotels in countries all over the world. I would be able to take my family along with me. To learn about and experience different cultures, food, and wonders would be the ultimate dream job. The job I should be doing, according to most people who know me, would be owning my own investigation company!
SW: What is your favorite movie?
JG: My favorite movie is Something's Gotta Give with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, because I am a sucker for rom-coms. I have loved every role that both actors played. This particular flick leaves you laughing at the simplicity of humor, love, and romance.
SW: What is on your iTunes?
JG: I am extremely eclectic when it comes to music! I love James Taylor, Michael Buble, Norah Jones, Jay-Z, Sean Paul, and Pitt Bull. From Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis to Dixie Chicks, Keith Urban and The Band Perry; throw in a little Aerosmith, Alice in Chains and Fu FIghters, and you have just a fraction of what is on my iTunes!
SW: Which social media site do you like the most?
JG: I am a sucker for Facebook. I can find so many groups to get answers to questions from real-life moms. I also use it daily to post all my items in my shop on my Facebook page for Coco's Closet. Facebook has helped me spread the word about my shop through sharing posts or my pics, from one customer to a new potential one. It's free and free is it for me!
SW: What do you do as a family?
JG: My interests and hobbies include spending as much time outdoors as possible. We all love the beach so its quite natural to spend the entire day on a quiet beach in Maine, reading a great book while watching my kids play or Joe fly-fish. I am up for anything! We love to go to North Conway, NH too.
Joe and I both play baseball and softball, so anything sports related is always fun for both us and the kids. My son Lorenzo goes to TeamWorks now and loves it. I love reading books, particularly anything by Jodi Picoult or doing crossword puzzles. I also playing along with Jeopardy with my family.
SW: Are you active in the community?
JG: Currently, I run a referral group called The Net, Worcester's premiere networking group. I founded it in 2007 with 4 other colleagues. The Net consists of one person per profession that meets once a week and we pass referrals to each other while building each other's businesses. For example, there is one plumber, one insurance agent, one real estate attorney, etc. Our group hosts fundraisers for or donates to local charities such as Why Me? & Sherry's House, which is an organization that supports families of children with cancer. I also donate thousands of clothes to The Friendly House (had a drop-off bin outside my shop), St. John's Catholic Church, and Compassion Pregnancy.
SW: Who has been the most profound influence on your life to date?
JG: I have 2 major influences in my life. The first is my mother, Denise. She is a living, walking earth-angel. She is the most caring, generous, loving, and strong woman I have ever known. She exudes the idea of unconditional love, not just to me, but all her family, friends, and faithful customers. She gives all of her time to her family while running a successful, 40+ year business by herself. She has always taken care of her parents and mother-in-law without getting one thing in return but their love for her. She wants nothing from anyone except respect and kindness. The other influence in my life would be my fiancé, Joe. He came from nothing and built his life up several times through hard work, determination, and the fight to always want more and do better. I have never met a stronger man, who has been faced with such adversity and tragedy, but always pulls it together and keeps moving forward. I couldn't be happier that my children have him as their father. He is an amazing athlete and an entrepreneur but most importantly, he is the most amazing father.
SW: What is a fun fact few people know about you?
JG: A fun fact that most people may not know about me is that I have a dorky side. I graduated with honors, I love to study and read, especially about 16th century England. I am pretty good at Jeopardy and hope to be on there soon—I am taking the test (again!) January 9!
SW: What is your favorite quote?
JG: "Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall." –Confucius
SW: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
JG: In 10 years, I hope to have a chain of children's consignment shops all over Central and Eastern Massachusetts. My children will be in school full-time, so with that success, I’ll be able to buy one of those small cottages on a beach in Southern Maine so that my whole family can enjoy quality time together. And no matter what my children or I may do or become, I always want to be not only their parent but their best friend. They are my world and I love it.
Central MA Up + Comer is a weekly profile of a member of the next generation as they are making their mark on the Central MA workforce and community. Join us every Thursday for a look at the careers and lifestyles of the local digital generation. If you have suggestions for a profile, please email [email protected].
Susan Wagner is the president of Susan Wagner PR. In this challenging economy, she has begun a new division to offer affordable start-up packages to new and emerging small businesses and non-profit organizations that include professional writing services, websites, collateral, marketing, social media, grassroots outreach and PR campaigns.
Related Slideshow: 14 To Watch in Central Mass in 2014
EcoTarium's Cox, who took the helm in 2012, is one to certainly watch in 2014. If you don't know Joe, he helped raise over $26.5 million at his previous post at the Galisano Children's Museum in Florida – and broke attendance projections in the process. If a track record of success is any indicator of a future one, expect to see amazing things at the Ecotarium.
Thanks to a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, EcoTarium will soon house one of the most unique exhibits in the country. A team of researchers led by Robert L. Ryan, professor of landscape architecture and regional planning at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, along with Worcester's Clark University and Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, will integrate the science of urban systems into a new "City Science" exhibit.
Next City Manager
With Michael O'Brien's departure from the City Manager post he'd held since 2004 for the private sector, Ed Augustus got tapped from his Director of Communications post at Holy Cross to fill O'Brien's shoes – but for an interim basis only. The former McGovern staffer and State Senator will take the helm for nine months only, leaving the big question in 2014 as to who will be the next City Manager.
The next City Manager will have a myriad of issues to deal with, from economic development, to crime – a top issue as far as residents are concerned. Will the next City Manager address the fact that while more than 40 percent of Worcester's population is a minority, the City has more than 1,600 full- and part-time city employees and well over 80 percent of them are white. Will city government ever reflect the population of Worcester?
The Hamilton native, who did a stint at Syracuse before declaring for the NBA draft this year, is already making an impact as a pro.
In February, GoLocal's John Barone broke the news that Hamilton native, and Syracuse Orange guard, Michael Carter-Williams would declare for the 2013 NBA draft after his sophomore season.
Carter-Williams, a 2011 McDonald’s All-American at St. Andrews in Rhode Island, was drafted 11th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. He is currently having himself quite a rookie year, with 17.6 point and 7.8 assist per game averages.
Dr. Dickson, who was named President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care this past February, will no doubt continue to have an influential role in the community.
During his tenure to date, challenges have included financial and labor issues, but also oversight of major changes as well -- Dickson appointed a new president of UMass Memorial Medical Center, Patrick Muldoon, and embarked on closer collaboration with Baystate Health to improve quality, access, and affordability of care.
Republican activist and Boylston school committee member Brad Wyatt will definitely be someone to watch in 2014, having just announced he's running for State Representative.
Wyatt is eyeing Hank Naughton's seat in the 12th Worcester District, as Naughton's now seeking the office of Attorney General. According to the Red Mass Group, the district, which includes Boylston, Clinton, Lancaster, and Berlin is the 38th most Republican leaning district in the Commonwealth. Scott Brown took the 12th in 2010 63-36, and Charlie Baker got 51% to Deval Patrick's 40%. Could Wyatt see a similar success in 2014? Stay tuned.
The Holy Cross senior is no stranger to politics – both locally, and in Washington, DC, having worked as an intern in the Office of Communications at The White House (and before that both in the office of the Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Worcester.)
As President and co-founder of the Worcester Student Government Association, Hakim told GoLocal's Susan Wagner, "Lately I have been describing myself as a pragmatist. I’m definitely a dreamer, but I believe the only way to get anything done is to make an honest assessment of where things stand and then go from there."
Who will get medical marijuana licenses in Worcester County will be watched for certain in 2014.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health in November released the names the 100 applicants for potential medicinal marijuana dispensaries who made it through to Phase 2 of the state’s licensing process. Worcester was named by 10 different applicants, more than any other city. The county itself has 14 finalists for dispensaries, more than any other county than neighboring Middlesex, which has almost twice the population.
Future of the T&G
What will become of the Telegram and Gazette will no doubt be closely watched in 2014.
GoLocal's Dean Starkman wrote in November of the scenario, "The Telegram and Gazette, a wallflower among New England newspapers that has suffered years of benign neglect by distant owners, seemed poised for a revival, after John Henry scooped it up as part of his landmark deal to buy the Boston Globe. Now a month later, he’s putting it on the block."
The potential future of the paper that has a nearly 150-year presence in the city and circulation of roughly 75,000 was broken down by Starkman. One of the major question marks is if new ownership would be local, or a return to a New York parent company.
The quintessential power player in Worcester has been a tireless advocate for the Commonwealth's tourism and visitor industry – with clear focus on developing the Canal District and the Blackstone Valley.
Giangregorio sits on the boards of Preservation Worcester and the Worcester Convention and Visitor Bureau, and also serves on the steering committee of Citizens for Business and as representative for the Canal District on the Mayor's Small Business Roundtable.
Be Like Brit
The legacy of Britney Gengel, who perished in the 2010 Haiti earthquake while on a service trip with Lynn University, continues to move forward through the Be Like Brit orphanage.
What started as a project built in her memory is now home to 35 children, and employs more than 40 full-time employees. According to the Be Like Brit website, hundreds of American and Canadian college students and other volunteers visit or volunteer at Be Like Brit each year.
He might have gotten the nod earlier this year for his cool factor, but GoLocal is putting Corazzini on our list of people to watch because of his "kid" factor.
While we feature the business and political minds needed to move Worcester – and all of Central Mass – forward, we recognize that the future of the Commonwealth depends on the education, and development, of our youth.
Waterman, the CEO of Girls, Inc., didn't always know she'd end up in the role of spearheading the 97-year-old organization in Worcester that allows girls the ability to participate in enrichment programs and get the tools, opportunities, and encouragement needed to grow.
A 20 year veteran of the mortgage banking industry, Waterman created "Divorce Mortgage Specialists" to help women in transition, before switching gears to head up Leading Women Massachusetts as President, providing cutting-edge leadership development solutions for women in organizations. Now, Waterman is setting her sights on the 100 year anniversary of Girls Inc. in 2016.
Central Rock Gym
Could 2014 be the year you start climbing to the top? If you haven't already been to a Central Rock Gym, watch out, because you could just catch the climbing bug.
Now in four locations in MA and CT, the gym offers climbing opportunities for all ages and abilities, and hosts climbing camps, regional, national – and international – competitions.
Trial attorney Paczkowski is as busy out of the courtroom as she is in – sitting on the Community Legal Aid Access to Justice Campaign Leadership Committee and co-chair of the Young Lawyers' Division of the Worcester County Bar Association, Paczkowksi is also the founding member and President of the Young Professionals Women's Association.
With goals of serving as a platform for women to share their voice on issues relating to the region's vitality, connecting with women through social and educational events, and providing opportunities for self-enrichment, the YPWA's esteemed found was recently named a 2013 Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Star.
- Central MA Up + Comer: Digital Credit Union’s Victoria Blandin
- Central MA Up + Comer: NKD Worcester’s Kristie Lee Laskes
- Central MA Up + Comer: Yoga Professional Abbey Oliver
- Central MA Up + Comer: Entrepreneur Ivania Nicole
- Central MA Up + Comer: Olga Kwasniewski, Restaurant Owner + Model
- Central MA Up + Comer Niki Luparelli, Marilyn Monroe to Boozy News
- Central MA Up + Comer: Estate Attorney Alicia O’Connell
- Central MA Up + Comer: Paint NIte’s April Kennedy
- Central MA Up + Comer: Anna Maria College’s Jessica Sabourin
- Central MA Up + Comer: Financial Advisor Wendy Davidson
- Central MA Up + Comer: Rushmie Nofsinger
- Central MA Up + Comer: Aviation Entrepreneur George Charles Allen
- Central MA Up + Comer: GH2 Fitness Owner and Trainer Heather Baker
- Central MA Up + Comer: The Owl’s Zack Photakis
- Central MA Up + Comer: Barry Communications VP Lindsay Gerhardt
- Central MA Up + Comer: Health Coach Andrea Davis
- Central MA Up + Comer: The Queen’s Cups’ Renee King
- Central MA Up + Comer: Clark University MBA Student Abigail Donahue
- Central MA Up + Comer: Ivy Child International’s Shan Yi Koay
- Central MA Up + Comer: Trial Attorney Lynette Paczkowski
- Central MA Up + Comer: Crompton Collective Owner Amy Lynn Chase
- Central MA Up + Comer: Linda T. Cammuso, Elder Law Attorney
- Central MA Up + Comer: United Way’s Heidi Charlebois