New Around the Woo: Worcester Wares
When Jessica Walsh and her husband moved to Worcester in 2007, she thought it would just be a pass-through along the way to other things. She wasn’t expecting to fall in love with her new home and had no idea of the impact it would eventually have on her future – and it all started with an “I love Worcester” button that she got at stART on the Street, one of the city’s favorite festivals.
“I was never able to find another, so I started making some and handing them out to friends and found that a lot of people wanted them,” Walsh said. “I started to realize maybe I should start selling them, so I did! Then, people wanted more designs, and various wonderful small businesses in Worcester started selling my items. I expanded the line to include licensed images from Worcester artists, realizing that there were different views of the city that each artist could portray with their different styles.”
And what’s not to love? Sure, Worcester has its struggles like any other big city, but it is also a place filled with artists, musicians, students and entrepreneurs. It has several large (and historic) venues and nine colleges. Its rich history includes former President John Adams having taught and attended school here. There is always something happening in town, and in recent years, Worcester has boomed with incredible restaurants and galleries. And now comes the newest addition to the city: Walsh’s very own storefront property, Worcester Wares, just opened in August.
“I think people are proud to live here,” Walsh said. “There is a huge momentum right now, with so many changes and ideas that are taking off. I hope I am a small part of the movement that is pushing Worcester forward, increasing the positivity and getting people talking.”
And how does she plan to do that?
Located in the former Worcester Sharks merch store in the DCU Center, Worcester Wares will offer shirts, pins, tote bags and more, all with thoughtful designs that inspire Worcester pride and start conversations. All items will sport Worcester-related ideas and artwork, which is all silk screened in-house. These items are excellent for those who live in and go to school in Worcester, but they also make excellent gifts for family and friends.
I asked Walsh what her favorite product right now is, and she said it’s a tote bag featuring Worcester zip codes.
“It’s the most ‘smart’ product. You don’t know what it is unless you know what it is. It’s like a secret handshake or something. I love using the tote and then seeing someone across the way have the light bulb click on over their head when they figure it out!” Walsh said.
Walsh, an animal-lover and foodie who earned her degree in biology and biochemistry at Northeastern University, admits that in hindsight she may have chosen another major for herself, but that everything led to where she is now and it is where she is supposed to be. Not only is she fostering a pride for the city she adores, but also she is collaborating with local artists and charities.
“I truly believe for Worcester to continue to move in great directions, we all need to be doing this together,” Walsh said. “Worcester Wares will be selling multiple items where the proceeds go to a certain organization. We are working closely with Action Worcester, Worcester Pride and others. I also plan to have quarterly events that involve local artists and nonprofits to help raise funds and awareness and get more art out into the community.”
Taking her love for Worcester and helping the community show its pride and grow its economy at the same time? It’s philanthropy at its finest (and most fun). Apparently, there are some secret new products in the design phase, so stay tuned.
Visit Worcester Wares at the DCU Center on Foster Street, online at worcesterwares.com or on Facebook.