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Central MA Up + Comer: Coco’s Closet Founder Jonelle Garofoli

Thursday, January 09, 2014


Coco's Closet founder Jonelle Garofoli may run a successful business, but her family is always her priority.

Jonelle Garofoli is the founder of Coco’s Closet, A Children’s Consignment. A Worcester resident and mother of two, Garofoli welcomes the freedom that comes with owning her own business. Garofoli comes from a long line of Worcester entrepreneurs. Her grandfather, Louis A. Boucher started Boucher's Good Books in Worcester just over 40 years ago and her mother, Denise Boucher-Garofoli, currently owns and operates the shop today. Garofoli hopes that her location next door to Boucher’s will keep her grandfather’s successful entrepreneurial spirit alive, just with a new twist!

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.


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