Why Small Businesses Matter
Shop small, do big things for your community
Why Small Businesses Matter puts a spotlight on the local merchants who donate their time, talent, goods, and services for the betterment of our community. The shop local movement spreads virally as local businesses who are “tagged” have the opportunity to share their story!
You're IT Gells Apparel!
Four questions with Ashley Perkin, founder of Gells Apparel.
Why did you start your business?
My husband Richard and I launched Gells in 2016. We wanted to collaborate on a product that would be fun and practical, yet at the same time, provide us with a platform to raise awareness for organizations we already had a connection with. With my husband’s background in business and mine in the accessories and beauty space, we agreed that a belt would be right because it’s a staple in everyone’s wardrobe. Furthermore, we could have some fun with designs and colors!
Gells belts are intended to be fun, durable, and versatile. After our initial launch with an adult belt, we saw an opening in the market for children’s belts and experienced a big uptick in business once we added playful designs to them. Five percent of each purchase goes to our three partner charities; Thanks USA, Breast Cancer Alliance, and Blue Ocean Society.
What is your best-selling product/service?
Our best-selling products are navy nylon belts with Lobsters, adult trucker hats, and kids cotton hats.
Our custom belts are a large part of our business as well. We have worked with various organizations such as schools, companies, and charitable outings. They make great gifts and are versatile enough to be worn on the golf course, a fishing trip, working in the garden, or to a cocktail party. For kids, they are an adorable accessory that definitely does their job in keeping little one’s pants in place! Our “All-Purpose” nylon belt can be wiped clean or even survive a run or two through the washing machine. We wanted to keep the price as low as possible. We hope that people will purchase a Gells belt because they love the look, but also feel that it’s a thoughtful and responsible purchase.
How many local businesses do you use to support your business (products and services) and can you name them?
We try to use local vendors as much as possible! This includes print shops, photographers, graphic designers, and several businesses that help us with the fundraising events we host.
We have an upcoming charity golf tournament at the Carl Dickman Par Three Golf Course in Fairfield on September 24th that will feature G&J’s Pizza and have raffle prizes from several local companies such as Highland Imports, Woopa Handstitch, and Sea Salt Baking Co just to name a few. All proceeds will go to Thanks USA, whose mission is to provide scholarships for the children of the US Military.
Have you "reimagined" your small business?
When we first launched we were mostly direct to consumers on our website and in specialty boutiques. Now, much of our business comes via our custom work. We are also really excited to announce that as of July 1st, 2021 we are an official NHL licensee and will be dropping team-branded belts starting in November for all 32 teams! Our belts will be on NHL.com/Fanatics.com, Amazon.com, Kohls.com, in NHL Arenas, and of course at gells.org!
When we launched we offered only one belt style. Now we have expanded to additional styles, hats, and other apparel for kids and adults.
HamletHub thanks Fairfield County Bank for making our Why Small Businesses Matter series possible!