COVID devastated many local businesses.
For Dori Bomback and Terri Jaffe, it provided a chance to start one.
The women met more than a decade ago, when their 2-year-olds were in the same preschool class.
Their backgrounds — Dori had worked in fashion for Kate Spade, Henri Bendel and Prada, then learned the jewelry business from Jamie Camche of JL Rocks; Terri was in high-end contemporary furniture and interior design — were complementary.
During a Chabad Purim project, they realized they could be more than friends. They worked well together. Could they somehow combine their skills in a business venture?
Several months into the pandemic, they met — masked and distanced — for a drink. They joked that the label on their tequila bottle could be great for a lifestyle brand.
The casual remark turned into an Instagram page. The women found, then posted images of things they loved — beautiful textures, colors or concepts. Once a day, Dori highlighted luxury fashion; once a day, Terri did the same for interiors.
The name was natural: “Things I Love.” They added “203” to honor their hometown area code.
At its November launch, the women were not thinking about monetizing their effort. In February though, they found a product they really loved: a handblown glass vase from France.
They wondered if they could turn ThingsILove203 into an e-commerce site. On a Zoom call, the art glass creator was very encouraging.
That was the impetus they needed.
Dori and Terri started searching for emerging artists from around the world. They looked on Instagram and Pinterest. They read voraciously.
They found artists and craftspeople in Spain, Germany, Italy Ukraine, Georgia, South Africa, Israel and Australia. For many, it was their first US outlet.
The website also includes artist photos, bios, and pictures of where and how they work. “We want to share who they are as people,” Terri explains.
The website lists all kinds of products: scarves, handbags, jewelry, home accessories, servingware, art glass, candles, soaps, fragrances, sculptures, women’s clothes and more. Not every category is filled yet, however.
The women purchase directly from their artists. Items are warehoused in Westport, then shipped from here.
ThingsILove203 has grown to over 5,000 followers. They’re drawn to Terri and Dori’s consistency — they still post twice a day — and the aesthetically pleasing products they promote.
The fashion posts attract primarily women. The design posts draw an audience that’s a bit older, and about 50/50 male/female. The other day, Dori and Terri introduced their first product for men: sunglasses.
It’s one more thing they love. And, they’re betting, discerning fashion-and-design lovers around the world will love too.