Mattapoisett jewelry company owner aims to help 'destroy poverty cycle'

By Andrea Ray | Jun 25, 2017
Courtesy of: Teah Keogh

Mattapoisett — When Teah Keogh started Anchor Me Bracelets out of her living room in Mattapoisett, she never expected the business to expand so rapidly.

Now though, she's found a way to help others and free up valuable time, collaborating with Denver-based nonprofit Women's Bean Project. Every bracelet in the Anchor Me collection will be handmade by the women of Women's Bean Project.

Keogh started Anchor Me in 2013, while she was living in Mattapoisett and working as an English language learning specialist for Old Rochester Regional Schools. She was looking for a simple nautical themed bracelet with an anchor on it, and when she couldn't find one, she decided to make one herself with leather and anchors she sourced online.

Keogh used the extra materials to make bracelets for her two best friends and her brother. The anchor symbolized their bond -- these were the people who had kept her grounded, she explained.

Soon, she started getting requests for the bracelets from friends of friends. She started a website (www.anchormebracelets.com), an Etsy page (an e-commerce platform for craftspeople) and approached local shops, and Anchor Me was born.

In two years, she'd quit her day job and sold 38,000 pieces of jewelry.

The expansion has continued -- today Anchor Me has over 400 retail partners across the country.

Keogh, who was still making the vast majority of the bracelets herself, was finding herself with less and less time to focus on sales and customer relations.

Women's Bean Project CEO Tamra Ryan explained the nonprofit's mission. "There are a lot of women who haven't had the opportunity of learning the discipline of going to work every day," she explained. "We want to give them an opportunity to learn better skills as better mothers and community members."

The nonprofit takes in women and gives them a job, generally in manufacturing, to teach them job skills - with those tools, they can move on to another job and find full-time employment.

Traditionally, the job availabilities have been in-house - the nonprofit runs a soup line that the women help put together and distribute.

In the last six months, however, the profit has turned outwards, looking for collaborations with outside companies; the more jobs they can provide, the more women they can help.

The push for company collaborations came at the same time as Keogh was searching for a way to add assembly help. Hiring full-time staff was out of the question -- the company continues to expand, but full-time help is not a possibility.

Keogh moved to Denver with her husband in 2014, but found herself in Massachusetts on a monthly basis regardless - Anchor Me is still based in Mattapoisett and the materials used in the bracelets are manufactured in Rhode Island.

She learned about the Women's Bean Project through a mutual friend while at a convention in Denver. "I loved what they did," she said. "It was such a natural fit."

Currently there are two women at the nonprofit who are trained to create the bracelets, according to Ryan. Keogh picks up the bracelet materials from Rhode Island and sends them to Denver, where the Women's Bean Project members put the materials together and send the orders back.

"We're still working kinks out, but it's been a very smooth process," Ryan explained. "Historically, we've had to turn away four out of every five women who've come to us for help. Collaborating with Anchor Me has meant more opportunity for more women."

Keogh, for her part, is thrilled that the collaboration has worked so well. The timing was ideal - she recently discovered that she is pregnant. "In December, I'll have a new baby anyway," she said with a laugh, "So I'll be busy enough without working on the bracelets."

In the meantime, she now has more time to focus on other aspects of her company. "My goal now is to continue to grow the company," she explained. "Now I have more time to focus on sales and customer relations."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A member of Women's Bean Project assembles a bracelet from Anchor Me. (Courtesy of: Teah Keogh)
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.